GRAYHAVEN COMICS APPRENTICE- 4th Challenge- Judge’s Thoughts/Boardroom

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WITH HIVE MIND TAKING THE LOSS THIS WEEK, PROJECT MANAGER JARED NEEDED TO CHOOSE TWO OF HIS TEAM MATES TO ACCOMPANY HIM TO THE BOARDROOM. HE CHOSE COURTLAND AND RYAN.

LET’S GET TO THE QUESTIONS…
RAY- Ronald quit when the week was just starting. Did that throw you off your game at all this week?

COURTLAND- I wouldn’t say that it threw us off our game seeing as how he quit right away but it definitely didn’t help not having him around. He was a valuable member of our team.  I asked him to reconsider leaving and argued that he should stay and not participate and stick with us if we skipped the boardroom this round but he stuck by his decision.
JARED- Fortunately Ronald dropped out so early I don’t think it threw us off our game. Though when it comes down to it, the goal was mostly based around networking and having an extra set of connections would’ve helped.

RYAN- Well, of course losing a teammate threw us off in the sense of – hey, whoa, we’re down a man! But Ronald leaving, well, I understood the reasons he was leaving. They certainly marred my resolve a bit.
RAY- Did you make a decision to focus on any one or two parts of the challenge? If so, which?
COURTLAND- Early in the game we were focusing on everything but when it became apparent that we were going to lose the social media sides of the round, I made a pitch to the team that we should focus more on sales and media promotion seeing as how they were the biggest point earners in the game.
JARED- At a certain point it looked like the we were not going to win with likes and follows, so we decided to focus more on publicity, sales, and site visits
RYAN- I was really, really counting on personal contacts. People within the industry, facebook friends, twitter followers, etc – I had hoped friends/acquaintances of mine could spread the word effectively, just get us more general publicity.

 

ANDREW- Your team got off to a good start and them things seemed to taper down. I’m especially surprised by how you seemingly abandoned Twitter afterThursday. What was the reason no one worked on the twitter side of social media

 

COURTLAND- I can’t speak for the rest of the team but I’ve never been much of a Twitter user. I have an account (2 actually) but I use it more for my teaching career and then only sparingly.  The other account is used primarily for following comedians and I never post to it.  I’m familiar with it enough to use it but have never made an effort to cultivate a following on it.  I also didn’t want to pester people too much. I felt I got lucky getting Gail and John Jackson Miller to give us retweets but they are both Grayhaven friendly pros (why they were targeted) and I didn’t want to impose on people or annoy them.  As I said in my answer to Ray’s question above, we stopped focusing on the Twitter and Facebook parts of the challenge when the gap in our followers became too great to close in time.  They were also low point earners in the challenge and I felt it was better to focus on the two that could win the game by themselves.

 

I also wasn’t entirely comfortable asking people to follow accounts that possibly weren’t going to be relevant in a couple of weeks.   I don’t have a lot of “professional” friends on social media.  Most of them are people I socialize with in person or friends from high school and they’ve already heard me promote Grayhaven whenever I have a story out or whenever there’s a Kickstarter.

 

Also, this was a busy week for our team.  I had to travel to Northern Michigan to visit with my dad and the promised Wi-Fi was not as good as I was led to believe.  A couple of us are also teachers and school is starting up now sucking up a lot of our time.
JARED- I take responsibility for that. Because of the time needed to manage two separate social media accounts, I suggested linking the two, so that posts to one would show on the other. The team didn’t like the idea, and I dropped the subject, when I should’ve doubled our efforts on Twitter. Ray wasn’t too far off in his estimation that I’m more familiar & comfortable with Facebook than Twitter; so I just focused on Facebook.
RYAN- I created the Twitter account, which maybe may have made an idea that I would take it over – understandable – and I didn’t deliver on that end. I’m very bad at tweeting, I almost never have a reason to check twitter personally, and I’m not particularly good with it.
ANDREW- Was there a strategy involved with how you decided to spend your time. Were you looking to take leads in each category or focus primarily on winning 3 of 5 to give you a point advantage

 

COURTLAND- We focused on everything at first but focused on the big point earners later in the game.
JARED- Yes, it didn’t work, but the plan was to focus on site visits, sales, and publicity. After we noticed how large of a lead the other team had on social media, we decided that rather than try to steam those from them, our best bet was to try and secure the other three.

RYAN- At first, it was a goodhearted sort of, hell, let’s do this! Go for everything – cavalier, you know. But the newly christened CCC had the advantage off the bat, and they ran with it. We hoped to focus on the more important challenges toward the end of the week, but we didn’t quite make it.
ANDREW- Who should be fired this week and why?

COURTLAND- Probably me.  Like Ronald, I had some reservations about this challenge but I tried to stick with it and work outside my comfort zone but I don’t think I was performing at the level that the rest of the team was.

JARED- I would have to say Ronald because, even if his departure didn’t necessarily cause us to rethink our strategies, it did rob us of our advantage last week. That hard fought victory was all for naught since we had as many people on our team as our opponents who lost.

RYAN- Me. 100%. This was an insanely busy week for me, coordinating stuff for Top Cow, the University Newspaper, and school coming back up, and this week’s challenge was neither my strong suit, nor something I could put creative work into. This week’s challenge just needed my time, labor, and attention, and I couldn’t give it that. I gave the least effort, contributed the least overall, and it’s my time to bid y’all adieu.
MARC- What was the most challenging aspect of this marketing challenge?
COURTLAND- The time frame. Even with the extra time for this challenge, building an authentic audience quickly is difficult.
JARED- Personally, I felt that the hardest part was reaching out to people to do interviews and reviews. As I haven’t had much published by GrayHaven yet, I felt more like a PR person than a creator actively trying to promote my own project.
RYAN- Being able to devote the time and dedication, and put the effort into something that isn’t really “fun” at all. (It ain’t all fun ‘n games, anyhow.) Plus, I’m not big on promoting – I know this is sort of career suicide, but it’s not a true skill of mine and it feels unnatural.
MARC-  Who would you say was the strongest player this week for your team?
COURTLAND- Jared or Steve for sure.
JARED- It’s a tough call, but I would have to say Courtland. He had some outside of the box thinking with setting our coupons on Coupon Follow and he wasn’t afraid to go after some relatively bigger names (Tony Isabella, John Siuntres, Tom Spungeon) to try and get us press.

RYAN- Jared. The dude’s *always* dedicated – he puts in the time, he delivers good work (both creative and administrative), and he’s just plain nice and hardworking. The whole team really rocked, but Jared always stands out.

 

MARC- What would you say was the biggest mistake you made as a team?
COURTLAND- I don’t know that we made any really. I think the other team had some better ideas (the press release was one I wish we’d thought of) and I suspect had a few more connections than we did to start with.

JARED- Our biggest mistake was probably ignoring Twitter, It’s where we got spanked the worst and was something totally within our control, as opposed to the luck of the draw with trying to get press.

RYAN- I don’t know, really. I feel like losing Ronald, coupled with an awareness that CCC had more followers/likes kind of beat down morale. It certainly did on my end.

 

GLENN- Did you keep an eye on what the other team were doing?  They were a lot more active and if I had noticed that I would have perhaps began to be concerned

 

COURTLAND- We kept an eye on their Twitter and Facebook activity but I don’t think we knew how to respond to it really.   We tried to keep up at first but that gap just got bigger and I don’t think we had a chance at closing it. I suspect that if there were a greater point value assigned to those two parts of the challenge we would have worked on them more.

 

JARED- We did see their Facebook activity and that’s why we realized that we needed to start focusing on the other three aspects.
RYAN- We made note of their likes and followers, and we noted several things they did, but a lot of what that really accomplishes is beating our own morale down. I feel like they employed a lot of the same strategies we did, just more effectively – and examining that only really makes you want to lose hope early.

 

GLENN- Were you up to anything major behind the scene and it didn’t pan out and if so what?

 

COURTLAND- I don’t know if I’d call them major but I tried to communicate with some of the bigger comic coverage sites (Word Balloon, Bleeding Cool, etc..) to get some mentions or reviews.  The problem with that is that even the sites that agreed and/or accept review copies would not be able to get their copies in the mail before the challenge was over (which I guess could be considered a mistake in answer to a previous question).

JARED- Not personally

RYAN- Not particularly. On day one, I made the twitter, and I made a point of getting in touch with Ron Marz and seeing if he could propel things. I was really hoping for an industry following – even a small one. Ron tweeted at us, and Gail Simone and a few others retweeted, but it didn’t really accomplish anywhere near as much as I’d hoped.

 

GLENN- At any point did you decide that the challenge was a lost cause and stopped making an effort?

 

COURTLAND- As mentioned above, the Twitter and Facebook challenges.

 

JARED- We absolutely decided to focus on certain aspects over the others as the week went on, but we never gave up the entire challenge

 

RYAN- Somewhat yesterday. By then, it was CCC’s big day for traffic, and it looked like they were already winning – fighting a losing battle on the enemy’s home turf? Rough.

 

GLENN-  Do you think you’ll keep the Twitter account/Facebook page?

COURTLAND- If it were part of a future challenge for sure, but I suspect most of the followers are just our friends who we would share information with through our personal accounts.
JARED- I don’t see why not
RYAN- Oh, I’m sure we’ll still utilize it as a team for the upcoming challenges – can’t hurt. Plus, we clearly need some practice on it.

 

GLENN- I read the review for Gather 14 and it seems to believe the issue is humour based is there any reason?

COURTLAND- I’m not sure. He’s a friend of a friend and a pretty tough to please reader.  He may not have been a horror fan (I also sent him a copy of the first Hey Kids issue but he didn’t review it) and could have been misreading the intent of some of the stories.

JARED- It seems like they felt one or two of the stories were blackly humorous, but they didn’t like the rest of them, so they went more in depth describing the humor.
RYAN- Well, if a reviewer’s naturally a tongue-in-cheek kinda guy, and he picks the wrong comic in an antho to focus on, I can see a review getting colored that way. Could’ve been a really simple misinterpretation like that.
AFTER THE JUDGES DELIBERATED, RAY CAME OUT TO DELIVER THE VERDICT.
RAY- Okay, the judges have deliberated. This was a rough loss for you guys, 91-9, but you did put a lot of effort into it.

We had to look not just at this week, but at the entire game so far to judge who we wanted to keep around into the final seven.

Jared, you were PM and lost, but you did put a ton of effort in, especially with the press section. So you’re safe.

So, Courtland and Ryan. It’s down to you. You both said you should be the one to be fired…  Courtland, you worked outside the box to come up with some creative ways to get reviews with bigger name sites. Ryan you started off strong but admittedly got sidetracked a lot with real life responsibilities.

Unfortunately, this is the end for one of you.

Ryan, you’re fired.

Courtland, you can rejoin your team. The next challenge will be posted soon

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