Today we have Buddy Oakes from PredsOnTheGlass.com. For those of you that aren’t familiar with POTG, Oakes and his son Jackson have a successful blog and internet radio show (which is available as a podcast). Their morning links everyday help not only Predators fans keep up-to-day with their own team—but they have links around the league to stories that would interest fans of any team. Their new project “The Aggregators,” pull in information for a ton of different sites so their readers have a one-stop shopping for all their NHL news.
We caught up with Buddy to see where he thinks New Media and the NHL are headed.
The Predators New Media/Social Media presence is among the strongest in the league. The Nashville fans are blessed to have some of the best bloggers and podcasters in the NHL—with Preds On The Glass contributing greatly in both areas. Do you have any ideas WHY the Nashville market has been so receptive to the New Media options? On a related note, do you have any idea why people have taken the initiative to create the podcasts and websites in Nashville?
Several things have come together in the last couple of years that placed the Predators and their fans in a position to truly embrace the New Media/Social Media tools that have become so popular. In some respects, it is difficult to understand the chicken or egg relationship of how things have transpired and evolved recently.
Oddly enough, I point to Jim Ballsillie’s take-over attempt in the summer of 2007 off-season as a catalyst. Tennesseans are generally a laid back, live and let live type of folk right up to the point that they are threatened or backed into a corner. When that happens, you need to beware.
Several years ago when the state legislature tried to impose a state income tax, tens of thousands of Tennesseans took to the streets and converged on the State capital and made it clear that a new tax was unacceptable. The tax bill went down in flames and never reappeared.
The same type of “closing ranks” mentality happened when the loyal Pred fans were threatened with losing their team. A true Tennessee Volunteer, David Freeman came to the rescue and brought stability to the Predator’s ownership situation to insure that he team would remain in Nashville. With the fan’s passion of appreciating what you almost lost, the seeds were laid in fertile ground for a fan-based media.
The next dynamic that needs to be considered is the lack of main stream media providing the fan base with information about the Predators that they crave. In Tennessee it is football season 365 days a year. The Titans and college football coverage of the University of Tennessee and even Vanderbilt take up the majority of available newsprint, TV highlights, and talk radio discussions.
Thirty seconds on the TV sportscast, one hockey caller out of twenty on the radio, and one lone writer at the Tennessean is not enough for the average die-hard Pred fan.
In the summer of 2007, there were only two or three active blogs. At the end of last season there were eight active bloggers. This morning there are seventeen blogs that I know of writing exclusively about the Predators. I would doubt that any other market has exploded this quickly and to this degree. The catalyst to this growth has been driven by Twitter in general and the @predfans Re-Tweet-Bot developers specifically. This Twitter group was the brain child of Paul Nicholson who developed a way that fans could follow and tweet to @predfans and have the tweet delivered to all 609 members of the group.
@predfans has become the 24/7 ongoing conversation between fans and the perfect way to disseminate information and grow the blogs to the avid social media audience of Predator fans.
The most recent piece of the puzzle that has been added is the Predators recent hiring of ex-Nvidia marketing head, Derek Perez as the Preds new Executive Vice President /Chief Marketing Officer. At Nvidia, Perez was a leader in using the blogosphere and social media to steer folks to their product and the games that were driven by their devices. Derek was a part of a panel last Wednesday that was put together by Social Media Club – Nashville that also included Paul Nicholson, Codey Holland of Section303.com and Dirk Hoag of SN Nation. The two hour session was webcasted nationally and was indicative of what a vital part of the Nashville social media scene that the Predators have become.
From what I can gather, Perez’s hiring will bring greater support for the blogging community from the team and an expanded use of Facebook and Twitter as tools to drive sales and the conversation around town about hockey.
Perez even hinted at the possibility of in game tweets by players between periods at some point in the future.
As for Podcasts, again the driving force is an absence of hockey conversation on the local airwaves. Specific Predator radio coverage has been generally limited to a few remotes with players during the season and occasional segments on one of the two sports radio stations.
Preds P.A. Announce Paul MCCann and Brandon Felder teamed up last season for a weekly one-hour HockeyBuzzRadio broadcast on a local station and that really was the only weekly outlet that fans could count on for pure hockey talk.
In January, Jackson (my son and partner) and I started PredsOnTheGlass Radio patterned somewhat after Chris Wassel’s The Program which airs twice a week on BlogTalkRadio. As complete novices to the field, it has been a learning experience and we have been fortunate to have eager hockey fans that were happy to jump on board and follow us on the odd ride that the show has taken.
A couple of our first guests were Codey Holland and Jeremy Gover who were in the process of re-establishing Section303.com as an active web site. Best I can tell, we were so bad that they thought that they could do better and thus the genesis of the 303:30 bi-weekly podcast. I would love to see others jump on board and give it a go to add other voices to the local podcast airwaves.
You do a great job linking other sites on Preds On The Glass and exposing your readers to some of the other great blogs that are out there. But as much as you’ve done in the Social Media community on the website, you’ve really been able to bring people together to talk about hockey on the POTG radio show/podcast. Was bringing people together to talk about the NHL something that you set out to do from the outset or is that just the way that POTG naturally evolved?
When we began the podcasts as well as the web site, we had two goals that played hand in hand with each other. We wanted to provide a resource for the local base of Predator fans as well as to hockey fans across North America who were open minded enough to consider that a “non-traditional” market might have something to offer the world of hockey on the Internet.
Our recently adopted motto, “Spreading the gospel of Predator hockey to the four corners of the hockey world” embraces the duel nature of our existence.
Our analytics show that we probably have about a 50/50 split of readers (local and elsewhere) and probably about a 75/25 split of listeners (the majority out of market) to the podcast. That would indicate that we are heading toward meeting our original goal.
By having a wide variety of guests on POTG Radio from other places, we have gone beyond limiting our following to the local fan base. We have a solid group of folks in the New York City/Long Island/New Jersey area as well as in Phoenix that are regular readers and listeners.
By supporting the Coyote fans in their battle against Jim Ballsillie, we developed a secondary market in the desert. Travis Hair of Five For Howling has been on the show more than anyone else to this point.
Another early guest was Dani Muccio better known as @dani3boyz who was the brains behind the incredibly successful NHL Tweetup movement. Dani has been a big supporter of POTG and probably has done more to lead us to other folks and in turn other folks to our site and podcast than anyone else.
Our long distance friendship and support of each other’s efforts could provide a case study for a graduate thesis on how Twitter can spread information among folks with common interest in hockey that otherwise would never have crossed paths.
Dani is truly one of the true social media gurus in the field and I often encourage her to take her story on the road as a real world example of how social media marketing can drive the exchange of information among folks with a common interest.
Through Dani and folks that we met through her, we became more involved in Long Island affairs than I could have ever imagined. We have done a couple of shows in support of the Light House Project and even wear our “Just Build It” t-shirts proudly around Middle Tennessee.
We have also tried to develop contacts in each NHL city so that we can have “go to” folks to call on when the Preds play other teams so we can give our listeners the other side of the story with a viewpoint from fans of opposing teams. Anyone that wants to appear on POTG to talk about their team is always welcomed.
Speaking of Blog Talk Radio, can you tell us a little about the website and the way its set up? What sets it apart from your normal podcast that you can find on iTunes? In fact, are there some other shows on Blog Talk Radio that hockey fans should be following on a regular basis?
BlogTalkRadio along with TalkShoe are two of the easier platforms that I know of to get a podcast started. All you need is a telephone and a computer and a desire to get started to have your own show.
A traditional podcast involves recording the content, editing, uploading the product, and marketing to your audience. The live BTR and TalkShoe formats avoid the editing and uploading functions.
The live podcast is a different animal from the traditional podcast. Being live, you don’t get “do overs” and you are subject to the weirdness that occurs within the sometimes unstable platform itself. Our first shows were horrible but we learned something every week and did not give up. When you screw up, it’s there for the world to hear. The quality is also much lower than a fully produced podcast (think AM radio vs. Digital Radio).
There are several advantages to the live format. Primarily, you can get instant feedback to what is being discussed through the chat room that is tied to the show on BTR. You can also take live calls from the audience. This lends itself to more of a “sitting around on the couch talking hockey” atmosphere. As with the traditional podcast, the recorded version is always available on demand.
Doing a live show requires co-ordination with guest and enough advance show prep to carry the show for the full hour in case something unforeseen happens with guests or technology when it has the potential to turn into a hour long monologue.
As for other podcasts, I am a regular listener to Chris Wassel’s “The Program.” Over the summer with XM 204 on a partial schedule, I tried to take in as many other podcasts on BTR and TalkShoe as I could to see what others were doing with hockey as well as other topics. I do like Tapeleg’s Rink Podcast, Blue Shirt Banter, and Eric Smith’s Fire The Cannon as well as a bunch more that would take pages to list.
Over the offseason, you were able to pull in a few people that are around the New York Islanders to talk about the Lighthouse project. For anyone that wasn’t familiar with the facts and problems concerning the project, they would have learned all they could ever want to know about the Lighthouse and Nassau County. How is it that you were able to pull all of those people together for a roundtable discussion? Did you know them through Social Media modes of communication prior to the conversation?
I touched on the Lighthouse Project in an earlier answer and it was definitely a social media driven meeting. Through Dani, I met Katrina Dell who is the PR person for the project itself. I became familiar with Nick Giglia who runs the Let There Be Light(house) site through following his tweets from the big Lighthouse rally and hearing at Hofstra during the summer.
In setting up the shows, I generally do all communication by emails, Twitter and Facebook. There have only been a couple of times where I have actually spoken to potential guests over the phone prior to their appearance on the show. I found the folks on the Internet so that is generally how I communicate. In dealing with local Predator based guests, I obviously do see them in person and talk to them directly.
Most of the time, people that have credentials start working for a newspaper and then adding a blog to augment their work. You are actually the opposite. You started with the blog and it grew into writing for The Columbia Daily Herald. Do you like that the line between mainstream media and blogging is starting to be much more of a gray area?
That was a unique situation were we started with a blog and ending up with the Daily Herald. The Herald had not been doing much with their Predators coverage other than running AP stories and having a part-timer that would attend games and file stories on a sporadic basis. The part-timer left town and I was contacted by a long time family friend, Marion Wilhoite, who is the Sports Editor.
It was a match made in heaven. I received credentials from the Predators through the paper and the paper got original content. It has been a difficult transition for me to learn to communicate in a sterile 500 word limit format as opposed to having endless amount of space on the blog to say whatever needs to be said.
This season, PredsOnTheGlass.com was credentialed directly by the Predators instead of through the paper. That hasn’t lessened our work with the Herald but recognized our entity in a more honest manner. In fact we are developing a process where our blog material will feed on to the Herald’s web site giving their reader more coverage on the paper’s site.
We also provide Predator content to Inside Hockey and Hockey54.com in Toronto.
In the past, we also have worked with HockeyPrimeTime and several other sites spreading original Pred content to sites that otherwise would not have fresh Preds news. The Nashville blogger community has grown so much recently that other local bloggers are sharing content to fill the national void.
For example, our friend Mark Willoughby who runs The View From 111 is now affiliated with Hockey Independent and Bleacher Report doing something similar to what we have done.
The line between the MSM and blogging is really a grey area as both sides take on more of the other’s characteristics. I recently inadvertently crossed a line involving rights fees paid to the NHL by the major television networks involving post game locker room video interviews and have since willingly complied with the rules in force.
With the rapidly changing landscape of news coverage and blogging there are many more folks involved in the process and it is difficult for non-traditional media folks to know what is fair game and what isn’t. Had it not been for a fight video getting a lot of attention on YouTube, my rights violation may not have been an issue.
The NHL leaves most of the credentialing and policing process up to the thirty individual teams so there are wide variances in what happens in each city across the hockey world. I think that this is a good system but I do wish that there were some type of instruction, standards, or guidance available to steer new media types in the right direction so they don’t run afoul of what the league expects or desires. Trial by error is not pleasant for any of the folks involved.
There’s an exciting project that is current linked to POTG—the Aggregators. Thus far, you have created aggregators for the Predators, Islanders, NHL sites and the “Slap Shot Blogdom.” How would you explain the aggregators and what are your plans for them going forward? Do you have plans to make one for all 30 teams?
The project started out as a way to try to bring mainstream media, blogs and podcast for each individual team all into one place so that that a reader could go to one site and see virtually everything that is going on for the team that the follow.
By using the Blogspot platform and the RSS feed feature, each listed blog automatically updates to show the last published story by each site that is included. Technically, it is a very simple project.
In thinking and researching the project, I was surprised that it had not been done by anyone else. Now that we have started with a few sites, I now understand why it hasn’t been done. ThePredatorsAggregator is the most complete of the ones we have done and it is even difficult to keep updated and maintained with the constantly changing blog scene.
I would categorize all the others as being in extreme alpha (not even beta) state. It is very time consuming to research the blogosphere to find blogs, podcasts and other team related resources to build a site worth using. The process is slow but we will continue to move forward as time allows.
Ideally, it would be great to find a volunteer from each city to help with the project and monitor for changes or omissions. If anyone reads this and wants to be involved, feel free to get in touch.
Finally, a strictly hockey question for you. Convince me that the Nashville Predators have what it takes to survive the nightmarish Central Division and grab one of those last playoff spots. Remember, I put a little money on them at 50/1, so I REALLY want you to be convincing!
As I write this, the Predators are 2-0 and neither game has been particularly pretty but that is typical of Predator hockey. A win is a win is a win, no matter how you get there.
On paper, the Preds are not particularly impressive and they manage to surprise the pundits every season. The key to the Predator’s success had been David Poile’s and Barry Trotz’s ability to find players that will work within the system and play a team based game. Character, hustle, and putting the team first are the primary ingredients of the “Predator Way.”
The team (and organization) has been built much like a jigsaw puzzle where each piece has an exact place (and price) and has to fit together and work together in order to have a successfully completed product.
Only certain players have been able to thrive (and survive) in such a structured system, and that is why character and team play is always what the Predators look for in their players. It is a very loyal group of players that took on a “Band of Brothers” attitude down the stretch last season when almost all the key players lost games and were replaced by youngsters who played well above what would be expected.
One very talented player that lived in Barry Trotz’s doghouse the entire time he was here was Alexander Radulov. He either never understood the concept of what was being done or did not have the self sacrificial attitude that the team requires.
The strength of the team starts in net and moves out from there. Most places would consider the current #1 and 1A situation with Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne as a major goalie controversy. Barry Trotz sees it as two number ones in which he has full confidence.
The first defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter is one of the best in the league. Dan Hamhuis anchors the second pair with Kevin Klein and the third pair has been solidified with the addition of veteran role player Francis Bouillon. The sixth and seventh D-men will likely be a revolving door of several of the young prospects since the Predators are well stocked on the blue line.
The offense will center on the first line of Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and J. P. Dumont. Secondary scoring should come from the second line of David Legwant, Marty Erat and rookie Mike Santorelli and a third unit that will be led by early season hero, Patric Hornqvist, who has seen first line duty filling in for the injured Dumont, and several others.
The Predators have several prospects including Colin Wilson (who is out with a groin injury) that will contribute as the season progresses.
I doubt that my rose colored, Pollyanna view of the Predators season outlook has done much to make you feel better about your wager, but I tried to do it with passion and enthusiasm.
I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this View From My Seats project and always enjoy all the good things that you do.
Here are all of the interviews from The NHL in the Social Media World series. If you have any interest whatsoever, you should check out what everyone had to say. Each guest comes from a different perspective, has a different area of expertise and brings something different to the table!
Interview with Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy
Interview with Dani Muccio of NHLTweetUp
Interview with Jennifer Leggio of ZDnet
Interview with Buddy Oakes of PredsOnTheGlass
Interview with Eddie Garcia and Doug Stohland from Puck Podcast