Trends in the music business mean musicians like Seattle’s Kitt Bender are finding new ways to bring their music to their fans. Bender will bring it right to your door.

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Global Washington 2013 Conference

Global Washington 2013 Conference

You’ve just spent the last few years of your life working hard to get your non-profit up and running. You’ve invested a couple hundred dollars to attend an international conference filled with your non-profit peers. Now you’re standing up in front of hundreds of them, basically a room of strangers, and you’re told you have two minutes to tell your story.

Go.

That was the scene earlier this week when a group of nine intrepid spokespeople lined up before a luncheon crowd at the Global Washington Annual Conference at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Conference Center. It was billed as the Fast Pitch Presentations.

globalwa-banner-2012-1

Reps were there from a local micro-enterprise non-profit, a development group, a reproductive rights organization, a sustainable fishing group along with a handful of other advocates. Almost all seemed a little nervous but when each got the “go” sign … there really wasn’t time for nerves. There was just 120 seconds.

The audience felt for the plight of the group of nine who lined up near the stage, waiting for their two minutes. But the
exercise illustrates a deeper truth. Very often, you don’t have that much time to grab someone’s attention and tell your story, no matter how important you think it is. We live in a world of short attention spans.

Bell Harbor Conference Center - Seattle, WA

Bell Harbor Conference Center – Seattle, WA

Seattle’s Randi Hedin went first. Hedin is a corporate lawyer by training. Today she’s the founder for Seattle buildOn, an international nonprofit organization that runs youth service after school programs in United States high schools, and builds schools in developing nations.

photo courtesy: buildOn

photo courtesy: buildOn

Hedin volunteered, “because I’m working hard to get the word out.” She says she wasn’t nervous because she was prepared and knew her talking points. She says she didn’t feel hurried either. “I worked hard with classmates” (in a Substantive International Law masters class at the University of Washington Law School).

Randi Hedin buildOn Board Member

Randi Hedin
buildOn Board Member

Her preparation showed. She’d picked a catchy title: “Who Ate My School? The Compelling Need for Schools in Developing Countries.” In the two minutes she had, Hedin focused on the need to keep schools in the developing world from falling into such disrepair that cows would graze on the weeds and grass growing on the property. The title of the talk grabbed attention, the pitch was short and to the point. She got a big round of applause.

Was it hard to capsulize the length, breadth and mission of an international non profit in just 120 seconds? “No”, says Hedin. “I just picked a piece of the puzzle and told that part of our story.” Hedin says it was a great way to organize because it forced her to focus on the “most important messages.”

There’s a lesson in the Fast Pitch.
1. Know your story.
2. Focus on the most important points.
3. Keep your pitch short
4. Know when to get off the stage.

Sometimes all you need is two minutes to tell your story. Sometimes, that’s all you get.

Mike Gastineau

Mike Gastineau

Seattle’s Mike Gastineau remembers the date, October 7th, 2012. That’s when it came to him. He’d just seen the Seattle Sounders beat their arch-rival, the Portland Timbers along with the wildly enthusiastic Emerald City Supporters, behind the south goal at Century Link Field. After the 3-0 win, the thought followed him as he walked to his car.

“This is a great story. I have to tell it.”

Earlier that fall, Gastineau had made the decision to leave his job at Seattle’s KJR 950 AM sports radio station as an announcer. Now he was consumed with the need to tell this story. “What better way than with a book”, he thought.

A year later, the result is a new book, “Sounders FC: AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE: The Inside Story Of The Best Launch in American Sports.”

The book (Gastineau’s first, with a forward by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl) is a must for any Sounders fan who wants a behind-the-scenes look at how the Seattle Sounders have become the talk of, or some would say the envy of, the rest of Major League Soccer. “Seattle’s the New York Yankees of this league”, says Gastineau. “We’ve got the money because we draw the fans.”

That success was no accident as “Authentic Masterpiece” reveals. The secret? According to Gastineau, Sounders management knew they couldn’t rely only on Seattle’s soccer moms and dads, a rich vein by itself. Sounders research showed that, “The last thing a lot of soccer moms and dads wanted to do after watching their kid play was … watch more soccer”, says Gastineau. “What Seattle did was go to places like The Atlantic Crossing in Seattle’s U-District and Fremont’s George & Dragon Pub, places where legions of hard-core soccer fans would pack bars at 7am on a weekend morning to see English Premier League soccer.” Mike says, “That’s a hard-core, underserved fan base. They (Seattle Sounders) really focused on who were fans of the sport.”

And then that October night at CenturyLink Field came back to him. He remembered the feeling of watching a Seattle sporting event for two hours, on your feet. That revelation leads to another secret to the Sounders’ success. “It wasn’t the fact that the Sonics left town”, says Mike. “It was the Mariners’ mediocrity.” Mike Gastineau says, “If Seattle sports fans had entertaining baseball to distract them, it would have been a different story.”

And if there’s one thing a Repurposed Sports announcer like Mike Gastineau knows, it’s a good story. His new book tells this one with authenticity and passion, like a night behind the south goal with the Emerald City Supporters.

Emerald City Supporters

Emerald City Supporters

Chris Daniels KING 5

Chris Daniels KING 5

Chris Daniels is an award-winning journalist with KING 5 (Seattle NBC) in the nation’s 12th market. His Seattle Arena reporting earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage in 2013. He’s also won a Regional Emmy for General Assignment Reporting in 2012. But that’s not why his Twitter following has grown by more than 70 percent in the last 90 days. He can thank the NBA’s Sacramento Kings for that.

In February, Daniels’ Twitter following couldn’t crack 10,000. Three months later, on the day the NBA voted to keep the franchise in Sacramento his total had risen to almost 17,000. Twitter helped him own the story. Recently, I sat down with Chris Daniels for a little one-on-one.

Daniels with former Sonic Shawn Kemp

Daniels with former
Sonic Shawn Kemp

Yeager: Now that the Sacramento Kings aren’t coming to Seattle and this chapter appears to be over, what stands out?

Chris Daniels: How social media changed the whole tenor and way I reported the story. I realized how many people paid attention to what I had to say on Twitter and made it a source for getting information. It was a way for me to plant the flag and direct people to the website. It used to be, wait until 5 o’clock, and deliver it then. I thought more globally about the website and how important clicks are, how important page views are, as much as TV views and how you can use Twitter to direct people to those stories. So I found over time that nobody was investing as much in the story as I was.

Yeager: You’re a reporter in the 12th market but you really reported in three different markets.

Daniels: I had to be more and more careful because I began to realize that the NBA was following me.  And my follower count went way up in Sacramento and also in Seattle. I felt I was reporting on Sacramento news as much as I was Seattle news. But because the Seattle ownership group wasn’t very vocal, I almost became the person that knew the most on this subject in Seattle.

On Twitter On The Road

On Twitter
On The Road

Yeager: Something that happened in the mayor’s office of Sacramento was evidence?

Daniels: What social media did was it put me on a different level in Sacramento, so when I went down to Sacramento feeling, “Everyone there must hate me.” It was 100% the opposite. I said to my photographer, “Have my back, ok?” Before I could even get into City Hall, Mayor Johnson’s press secretary came out and complimented me on the work that I was doing on social media. They thought that I was the best reporter on the story. And a group of local (Sacramento) fans said, thanks for all the work you’ve done on this.  You’ve done such a great job. I just looked at my photographer and raised my eyebrow, this not what I expected at all.

Yeager: You received some negative feedback from the NBA Commissioner’s Office in New York because of what you said on social media.

Daniels: I wrote the story that there was a rift between David Stern and several of the owners about the direction of this (Seattle) franchise. And you could see that there were eight votes on the board for relocation, that there was a rift. And what social media allows you to do is that it alerts the NBA to these stories that are being reported and that was obviously in advance. He read it. He saw it. He’d seen me before so he knew who I was. He said in front of everyone, “Contrary to what you’ve reported,” which shows you how closely they were following what I was reporting in Seattle.

With former Sonic  Kevin Duran

With Former Sonic
Kevin Durand

Yeager:  How did it play in Seattle?

Daniels: The sports radio stations started following me for news. I would tweet something and before I could ever write something or put it on TV, they’d have me on the radio. There were days when I’d do six different radio interviews.

Yeager: So when expansion becomes the story will you be the guy on it?

Daniels: Likely. That’s what people still ask me about on Twitter. @ChrisDaniels5

http://flipthemedia.com/2013/05/kirotv-coms-michael-fox-tips-for-new-media/

Monday, April 15th. Two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a big news day.  More than two hundred are injured, three are killed and the Boston Globe’s pay wall comes down. In the world of Internet news content that’s almost news by itself.

Pay walls prevent Internet readers from using webpage content (mainly news and scholarly readings) without paying. They’ve been controversial because for years, online newsreaders have taken free content for granted. Not anymore and not on Monday. News about the Marathon Bombing was free for all.  And not just in Boston.

Executive Editor Seattle Times

Executive Editor
Seattle Times

“Boston forced us to come up with a (pay-wall) policy when breaking news happens,” says Seattle Times, Executive Editor David Boardman.  “When public safety and welfare are concerned,” says Boardman, “we’ll put those stories (and only those) outside the pay-wall.” “When the coast is clear,” he adds, “we’ll put it back.” The Times briefly took down their pay wall for Boston Bombing stories.

The Seattle Times started their pay-wall three weeks ago. http://seattletimes.com/html/home/index.html For $3.99 a week you get digital content and in some cases a paper copy of the Sunday edition. Boardman says there was some initial pushback but now the pay wall is beginning to pay off. “We’ve been really encouraged,” says Boardman. “They’re well above the numbers that we were expecting.”  The Seattle Times gets 7 million unique page views a month. “Today, there are 450 dailies with a pay wall,” Boardman says. “It’ll become the norm one day.”

David Domke  Communications Dept. University of Washington

David Domke
Communications Dept.
University of Washington

This week, the New York Times has taken down its pay wall for video. Professor David Domke at the University of Washington http://www.com.washington.edu/domke/says pay walls are here to stay. “They’re showing up more and more,” he says.  At first he says, they were more experimental but now, “Enough of the traditional print audience has gone online so we’re entering the era of the pay wall.”

http://paidcontent.org/2013/04/23/new-york-times-lifts-paywall-for-video-plans-franchises/ The Times says it’s no longer restricting non-subscribers access to video as part of its plan to “expand its brand in the video space.”

But it’s not just big dailies.

The Chinook Observer http://www.chinookobserver.com/ charges its readers $33 a year for digital news content. The Observer serves the Long Beach area in Pacific County in Southwest Washington. Editor and publisher Matt Winters says, “Some of it is arbitrary. “We’re still trying to decide what to charge.” They’re planning to publish an on-line business publication, which he says they’ll charge for as well. “It’s all about re-purposing content,” he says. “It’ll be experimental.” “In essence,” he says, “we are an information society. At some point you have to assign real value,” he says. “Otherwise the paradigm falls apart.”

But the UW’s David Domke http://blogs.seattletimes.com/uwelectioneye/author/ddomke/ wonders how much online news content we really read because of pay walls. “People are now able to ‘a la carte’ the paper. Picking and choosing what they read now more than when readers open a traditional ‘ink on your hands’ hard copy. “It’s unfortunate,” Domke says. “When I read the paper I encounter so much more.”  “Part of it is when I actually do ‘read’ the newspaper, I’ve said to myself, “I’ve got time to read the paper. It’s really a loss for our culture. We’re so busy now. We’ve taught ourselves to just quickly glance at the news. Reading a twitter update is not the same as engaging with the news,” says Domke. “It’s fundamentally different to read at a stoplight than to sit down and actually read the newspaper at home.”

At The Seattle Times, David Boardman says the pay wall has to make sense. “It has to have news content they can’t get anywhere else,” he says. “The main point”, Boardman says, “is if they (the readers) don’t perceive that it won’t work.” Still, Boardman says, “The pay wall doesn’t provide enough money.” But what it does, he adds, “is to get people conditioned to get used to paying for content.”