Saturday, October 25, 2008

New-look CCA Web Site

Maybe I’ve been in the dark, but today I stumbled across the Canadian Curling Association’s new-look website and IMHO it’s impressive. Welcome to the 1990s CCA! It’s about time you upgraded.
The new site is attractive, colourful and inviting. Glad to see some of the staff are blogging/writing, especially Danny Lamoureux (who got his start by penning a regular column for the Ontario Curling Report a way back when) and his Business of Curling column.
Smart stuff: selling event merchandise online in one location; the aforementioned blogs; a regular schedule of events in one place; and the Club Finder.
Stuff That Could Be Improved (this is meant as constructive criticism): a more prominent position for the Go Curling! link – right now it’s just text on a navigation bar; some connection to the World Curling Tour (they’re all friends now, right?), better video interviews – the ones up there now have awful angles, light and sound; make the CCA logo at the top of the page a clickable link back to the home page (like every other web site known to man).
As well, the club finder is a great start, but it’s also a bit awkward. For example, if I live in Weston, Ont., and enter Weston and Ontario in the appropriate boxes, I get the information on the Weston G&CC. Well, information is a bit of a stretch. I get the address and a link to Google Maps. How about a link to the club’s web site? How about a phone number? More info please.
Hopefully this will all come in time. For now, it’s a decent improvement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stagnating Purses

One of the more remarkable things in competitive curling, to me, at least, is that the size of purses has been relatively stagnant even from those days so many moons ago when I used to curl for dollars.
With the exception of the Grand Slams, most of the “big” events on the World Curling Tour (oops, sorry, the Asham World Curling Tour) offer up an average purse somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000.
There are some exceptions such as the Cactus Pheasant at 70K, but if purses have grown, it hasn’t been at a rate consistent with the profile of the sport.
One of the main reasons, of course, is the difficulty in attracting sponsors. Curling sponsors are rare beasts, in spite of the fact that those that take a solid stance often report good results in getting support from curlers. Curlers are definitely loyal beasts.
Most curling sponsors get involved because the guy/gal controlling the dollars is a curling fan, not always because it makes good business sense. That’s not always the case, but it does seem to happen more often than not.
Why is that? Because in many cases, local bonspiels are run by volunteers who aren’t pros at selling sponsorships. It’s easier to hit up Bill at the Garage down the street than Fred at the Car Dealership because Bill is a curler. In many cases, Fred doesn’t even get a proposal.
It’s tough for local spiels to justify to a company such as Fred’s why it should put up $20,000. Is there a return on the investment? There can be, but trying to convince people of that is a difficult task if you're a curler talking to a non-curler.

Monday, October 13, 2008

At the BDO

Stopped in at the BDO Classic in Oakville today to see some rock throwing and got there in time for the semis (couldn't stay for the final as Turkey Dinner was a-waiting).
On one sheet was Glenn "Hernia-Hard" Howard against his old buddy Wayne Middaugh. It was a good game, but the Howard rink was simply too much on this day. I do like the look of the Middaugh rink, though, with John Epping on board. If they get enthused, they could do some damage.
Strangest thing, however. Game ends, boys are sitting around having a drink and some pizza and organizers Rick Chittley-Young and Bill Mackay come by to give Middaugh his semi-finalist cheque. Middaugh promptly endorses it and hands it to Howard. My mind races . . . pot splitting? A bad bet?
"Glenn's wife is my banker," said Middaugh. Oh, direct deposit then.
By the way, this was Glenn's first foray onto the ice since his hernia operation. He threw a few days prior to playing at the BDO, but said there was no pain and he felt good -- a month to the day of the operation. He looked like his old self and the team looked impressive once again -- they'll be tough to beat.
The other semi was between Sarnia's Mark Bice and Mike McEwan of Winnipeg. The McEwan team looked impressive at first but man, they threw away several good chances to put this one on ice. The skip had an open hit for four in the fourth and to me, at least, he threw too much weight down a straight spot and rolled out. Bice rallied several times in a gritty performance, but McEwan still had a chance with his last rock to win. He was trying to play a delicate tap back on a Bice stone on the side of the button but the rock fudged about two feet before reaching its target.
Howard eventually beat Bice in the final.
One thing I also learned in Oakville is that fudged is so last year. The new word is "mucked." So, in a sentance, that would be: "McEwan's last rock really mucked."
Hmmm. . . can't wait to see if I can get that one past the editors at the Globe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Learning from Cactus Pheasant

In my business, I get a lot of folks who ask me who they can get more coverage for their bonspiels, both big and small. The local club spiel wants some mention in the Ontario Curling Report and the bigger events would like the Globe to cover it.
Well if those folks took a page from the gang at the Cactus Pheasant Classic, they’d be a lot better off. Those guys do the best job at promoting their event and creating awareness (outside of something like the CCA or the WCT who have staff to do that) than anyone in curling. I think I’ve received half a dozen releases already, including one this week about the band Chilliwack playing at the big bash.
Now I haven’t been to this event, probably couldn’t even find Brooks on a map, but I will be looking for the results of this event, following it online as best I can.
In this era of cutbacks and consolidation to the media, you have to be aggressive in promoting your event. Give the press gang as much info as you can – sure some of it won’t make it past the Delete button, but you have a better chance of getting coverage if the writers and broadcasters know about it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Curlers on Facebook

One of the most interesting developments on the curling front over the summer came not on the ice or the CCA boardroom or in planning for the Grand Slam.
No, this summer curlers – at least those of a certain vintage as well as a media interloper – found Facebook. Yup, over the course of the summer some of the Legends of the Game began to get ‘booked and then search out friends. Actually I have been on there for a while and I’m sure some of the others have too, but there was this flurry of friend requests between everyone.
So now I’m friends with Al Hackner and Randy Ferbey and Pat McCallum and Guy Hemmings and Don Bartlett and Neil Harrison and more.
And thanks to all this, of course, you get to know really cool stuff. Like that Ferbey was off building a deck at the end of September. And that Guy’s home page picture is that of a monkey who seems to have the same hair stylist as the real Guy. I saw some amazing pics of the fish that Hack caught this summer. You know, real hard core newsy stuff.
I also know that Podcaster extraordinaire Dean Gemmell has a virus because I keep getting these messages from him saying he knows someone who has a big crush on me. Earlier this summer, Patti Lank sent me the same message and I was foolish enough to think that she really did know someone who was warm for my form. Oops.
Now I’m sure that some of the younger curlers out there are cringing when they read this, realizing just how low-tech some of us are. Ya, I know, welcome to the 1990s. So what? We’re having fun.