Many thanks to Ron Lippock of the Pittsburgh Daily Sports Bulletin. Ron religiously conducts interviews for the enjoyment of Pittsburgh sports fans, so I thought I'd turn the tables and ask him to answer a few questions about how he got started with the project, how he manages the daily grind of maintaining the email newsletters (consistently submitting the email each and every day, 365 days without fail, is no small feat). Equally, if not more impressive, is the fact that the PDSB has conducted well over a hundred interviews in the past year or so I'd say. A sizable percentage of them have been great lands by Mr. Lippock, a testament to his consistent efforts, growing reach and cool personality.
So, click through to his site and sign up for the newsletter. Sure it may make my life more difficult in terms of not being redundant on link posts, but that's okay. It's too good a service to pass up.
And don't worry, I've already talked to him about his website. He's correctly worried about bite over bark, but also realizes it may be time to get a go under the cosmetic knife for some unobtrusive work.
1) When did you start the Pittsburgh Daily Sports Bulletin (PDSB) and where did the idea come from?
PDSB: I actually produced an enewsletter about ten years ago but simply didn't have the time to continue doing it due to a demanding job and the complexity of that enewsletter (it was more of a personal editorial-based product - who looked good in the game, who should start, etc.). The idea originally came about because I had friends in the military and in other states that had a difficult time keeping up with Pittsburgh sports news. I produced the enewsletter originally for those folks, though again, it was much more editorial in nature.
I revamped the idea - one interview and article links this time - frankly to keep it more manageable. Let the professionals do the analysis - they are much better equipped to do so then I am anyway.
The numbers kept growing, so I began to actively promote it. I built a website to "house" the interviews. I started taking it more seriously and set up short-term accessible goals as well as long-term, more expansive ones. This was key - setting up realistic goals that weren't too easy to attain, but that didn't cause me to lose steam by being too far out of reach or too much effort for me to realistically maintain.
Part of the "new direction" entailed promoting it to other folks besides fans. I started letting media and front office folks know of it - and they had wonderful feedback - and some requested to be interviewed which got that ball rolling even faster. Many now use it to as a media clipping service and as a means for preparing their shows, so they tell me.
I'm learning to some degree as I go, but the mission still is three-fold: keeping fans up-to-date on sports news, getting exposure for sites and blogs that may not have otherwise received as much and to continue being relied on by media and front office personnel.
2) Do you have help or do you work on the email list and website alone?
PDSB: I have some folks who help with design work, but I do the editorial work, including interviews, on my own.
3) I could be wrong, but it seems like you typically blast out the emails in the mid to late afternoon east coast time. If so Is their a particular reason why you then? Perhaps it's merely a matter of fitting things in your other schedule, which leads me I suppose to ask what it is you do when you're not keeping Pittsburgh sports fans up to date?
PDSB: I try to send it out so that it's a true wrap-up of the day's news. I do have a full-time job so it's a juggling act. But I'm managing....I wake up very early in the morning to do much of the work, help see the kids off to school, then start my day job.
It's a lot of work and some lost sleep, but I enjoy it immensely and take satisfaction growing the enewsletter and conducting the interviews, many of which have been thrills for me to get to do.
4) Anybody can collect the links, but the PDSB has also conducted an astounding number of interesting interviews. Talk to us about how you've gone about that part of the site -- who to choose, why you think you've had so much success attracting a diverse range of relevant interviewees, who you still hope to speak to in the upcoming months?
PDSB: First, thank you for the comments. I'm trying to be creative about the interviews. If I speak to someone who's been spoken to often, I try to get something new out of them, rather than the typical questions. It doesn't always work, but that's my approach anyway.
But moreso, I try to talk to those that others don't. The interview with Rob Ruck - the Pittsburgh sports historian from the University of Pittsburgh, the one with Dr. Maroon, the Steelers Neurosurgeon, and the recent one with former Steelers coach Dick Hoak are examples ... I'm trying to bring something new, thoughtful and hopefully fun for readers they wouldn't find elsewhere.
And, to bring exposure to teams and people that deserve it, but often don't get it from mainstream media for one reason or another. I cover over 20 Pittsburgh sports teams each day...
5) How much reading would you say you do each day? Obviously you don't have time to read every last word of everything you link to, but do you try to read a fair amount of each post or do you mostly look for compelling headlines and just make sure that the article is somewhat on point and interesting?
PDSB: I do some reading. In terms of what I read most, I try to read the articles that are a bit different in nature. The challenge for me in terms of what to include in the enewsletter is when multiple sources carry the same storyline. Which do I run? Then, I tend to scan each to see which seems to cover the issue best and run that.
That's why RSS feeds will never be the answer for serious readers, in my opinion. Collecting the links is more work than I expected it to be. I'm culling articles from literally over 170 sources every day (and yes, some from the Bleacher Report....guilty...). It's a lot of work... you'd get a litany of repetitive articles and a lot of nonsense if these aren't scanned through manually and hand-picked.
6) Any final words on what you have in store for the site and newsletter for the remainder of 2011? And since the site is a great resource to so many folks now, would you be interested in receiving feedback on how to improve your operations from the people who rely on it and enjoy it currently?
PDSB: Continued growth (hopefully) and more interviews. I have a number of interviews lined up with former players, media folks and Pittsburgh sports writers - I always try to stay ahead of the game.
I not only welcome - I encourage - feedback and ideas for interviews. Anyone should send any ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . (And also pleas use this email address to sign up for the e-newsletter -- it's free.
I've run a couple of surveys across the subscriber base asking for feedback. It's nothing without the readers....so let me have it, whether its constructive criticism, thoughts on what I'm doing right, interview ideas....let me have it!