Online Journalism: Fridays 2009


the class blog for Columbia College Chicago’s Online Journalism class: Friday edition

the Site Community Presentation explained

Next week is our first of a few graded check-ins on your site. Driven by our focus on social media and community engagement, it is a check in that’s centered around the audience/community that you hope to reach with your site.

Next week we will have presentations and you will turn in a report. Your report and your presentation should encompass:

presentation & report

Who is the audience you’re targeting?
— what age/gender/etc are they?
— what do they do, both for a living and also for fun?
— what are their hopes/dreams?
— why are they interested in the things they’re interested in?
— where do they go? (both in real life and online)
— why are they a part of the community(ies) they are a part of?
— what will they gain by visiting your site?
Give three specific examples of people, complete with photo documentation. For your written report, write a short profile of each person.

Where is the community that already exists around your site’s topic?
— where do they go online?
— where do they go in the real world?
— what do they do when they’re there?
For both locations, please cite three specific examples of each (both virtual and real), explain the motivation your audience/community has in going to those places, their activities once they are there and what you can learn from these things to apply to your site. For the real-world place, please include photo documentation of your visit there: show us your community “in the wild”.

Who are the influencers in your space?
— identify three people who help to drive interest and people towards other sites, places, and concepts within your topic space
— talk with two of them (this can be a virtual conversation over Twitter, e-mail, or wherever)
— where do they go online? Why do they go there?
— what do they feel are the needs within your space?
— what leads them to recommend certain things?
— why do they believe they’re influencers?
In your report, be prepared to explain why you’ve identified these people as influencers.

Who are your competitors?
— give three specific examples and list their Google PageRank score
— how are you different?
— what are they doing right?
— what are they doing wrong?

What keywords are people searching within your space?
— how can those keywords influence your content?

Bring it all together
With all this information about your audience/community, explain how you will reach them and engage them with your site.
— three specific online examples
— two specific real-world ideas

Your report will be handed in, but please paste a copy in the comments section below. Be sure that every member of your team signs the report.


You will make a number of slides for this presentation. You will upload them to the photo-sharing site Flickr. Flicker will automatically make a slideshow of your photos, though it’ll help if you arrange them in a set so you can reorder them as you see fit. Your slides need to cover:

  1. Intro to your site with a one-sentence description
  2. Your audience defined, with photos
  3. Their community defined, with images of them in the locations you identified
  4. The influencers in your community
  5. Your competition
  6. The keywords around your space
  7. A slide for your conclusion

Your slides can contain as much information as you want (though remember: less is often more, you will be talking along with them), but need to cover these eight points. Link to this slideshow on the class blog.

If you don’t have a good image editor for making slides, check out Picnik, a web-based image editor that’s surprisingly robust (and free!).

Presentation specific notes

–Your group’s presentation should not last longer than 10 minutes, that will leave plenty of time for questions from the class and our panelists.
–Plan your presentation out in advance, and make sure everyone’s practiced it as well. Rambling doesn’t help anyone.
–Be prepared to answer questions with further detail about your site and your strategy.
–Finally, you will end your presentation with a brief look at the site. So, you know, you may want to have some stuff on it, huh?

Filed under: group project

6 Responses

  1. Rachel Stapinski says:

    UkeChicago Site Community Report
    Terry “Truhart” Pensel (Influencer)
    Terry is the club leader of Nui Ukulele of Chicago, but he is having back problems recently and had to cancel meetings for a while. He is concerned about what the class is trying to do, being a defensive supporter of his art. He wrote in an e-mail, “This is great, but what happens to the site and content once your class is over?” Terry likes to spend his time online creating content for his site, He really wants to use a phpBB hosting to support thousands of subscribers like Ali Bee at
    Terry says he doesn’t chat too much online but likes to direct musicians to the places they like to go through his site. He says the major ones now are Ali Bee’s,, and 4thpeg is local to Chicago and is run by Alan Johnson, a musician. Terry likes these sites specifically because they are the largest and have the most professional musicians and teachers adding content to the sites.
    Terry had to confess our website needs a better domain name. He also suggests consistent content, an easy-to-use and read interface and individual logins with passwords. Terry also said we need to promote our website to well known people in the uke community and at uke events so people get to know and use it. Terry says that the best national and international websites have these features and it is exactly what a local site will need.
    Terry is one of the primary organizers of the Windy City Ukulele Festival. Last summer was the first year and he says the feedback was good. “We expect a lot more people this year,” he wrote. Terry hopes to promote and facilitate ukulele in schools, community centers, church and social groups through his club, and “help people find their voice through playing and singing.”
    “Learning to play in groups helps build communities and promote the aloha spirit,” Terry wrote.
    Elizabeth “Liz” Gaylord (Influencer)
    Liz is a diehard Beatles fan, specifically of guitarist George Harrison. He was the inspiration for her studio in the nine block long Oak Park Arts District, Harrison Works, 17 Harrison St. This is where she holds the Ukulele Club meetings, in front of a large window that commuters walk by on their way home from the Oak Park Blue Line station.
    Liz enjoys walking around this neighborhood strumming her banjolele and going to different events like Beatle Fest and the Windy City Uke Fest. She also keeps a list of her favorite websites handy for new members. is where she goes for chords and tabs, and, is her place to talk about ukes online.
    Yet she has needs that her list of sites cannot fill. For instance, Liz needs somewhere to circulate press releases about her group, their events and the arts district in whole. She needs a local source, not an international message board. She has a friend from Oak Park at WXRT, Terri Hemmert, and plans to send Terri recordings of her group’s performances. Liz hopes to get her group recognized for their music and loose environment.
    She needs a place where her music can be heard so she can grow her local following. In return, she wants to find out what the Chicago uke community is doing. She wants to learn about new events and listen to other group’s performances. For example, Her friend and fellow club leader, Gi Gi Monico, tried to get the world record of ukulele players on stage. They didn’t beat the record, but got a first for the fest. They want to try again next time and need a way to get the word out.
    Liz says it is important to communicate with players and help with troubleshooting chords and arrangements. Liz spends a lot of time strumming around to find the best chords for her favorite songs by ear. During class she tests her research against the members’ ears and together they edit the sheet music. Because her studio couldn’t fit a half-dozen people, she needs a place to troubleshoot chord issues with the entire city, collaborate edits and print sheet music for the meetings.
    Liz also suggested a detailed description of different or unique types of ukes. There are times she comes across a uke type she never heard of and has used forums to get a better understanding from the wider uke community. She says it is difficult to purchase a uke because they’re hard to find. A listing of local shops to buy ukes, strings and tuners would also be useful.
    “UkuLarry” (audience)
    Larry is a self-pronounced “couch strummer.” His wife razzes him for playing ukulele around the house. One day she saw a piece in the Oak Park Wednesday Journal about Liz’s club and cut it out to taunt Larry even further. He decided after seeing the piece that he would play with the group on Wednesdays to escape the couch at least once a week.
    Larry used to play guitar. He says it was difficult for him to transition to ukulele. He started on a baritone uke, which he explained has the closest chord combinations to guitar. Larry is striving to master his new soprano uke that gives him the reverberating sound he enjoys, but the chords are totally different, he says.
    He carries around a green folder of all his sheet music. The pages are smudged with correction fluid and ink showing the history of his progression through various chords to find the best ones. Larry says he needs a place he can collaborate with others over the same arrangements with different stringed instruments. He wants to find all the tabs of his favorite songs from the 1950’s folk revival to the Beatles. He also says he needs a way to communicate his suggestions with other collaborators and be part of the chord-changing experience.
    Larry does not go online since his computer broke. He goes to the club and Gi Gi’s meeting at East Gate Cafe just down the block from Harrison Works. Larry also enjoys playing harmonica and banjo. He is a walking one-man band.
    Katie (audience)
    Katie is Liz’s sister and goes to Harrison Works several times a week, dropping in to strum a uke and hang out. Katie is new to the ukulele. She does not know many chords and usually strums quietly and practice keeping time. She loves to sing along to the music, some of her favorite songs from Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Leonard Cohen. Katie also enjoys karaoke and singing at performances with her sister.
    Katie had an accident that made her arm very sore. She cannot play for long and only got to play again after a long healing process. Katie needs a way to practice her uke skills when she cannot visit Liz at Harrison Works, like tutorials of strength building exercises that will get her arm back in shape.
    Lisa (audience)
    Lisa has a couple teenagers and comes to the meetings to get away from the stress of sending her kids off to college. She plays a fluke, or flea uke, that she cradles like a baby when she plays. Lisa shares the same passion for the Beatles as Liz and Katie. She tries to find obscure folk songs and rare George Harrison blues recordings. Lisa’s husband, Mike, sits in the corner resting in a folding chair. When Lisa forgets some old folk song, Mike perks up like a living encyclopedia spitting out trivia on artists and recordings.
    Lisa likes to emails links she finds about musicians and songs to Liz. They correspond through messages about what chords they want to print out for meetings. She needs a place to find links about local artists and music as obscure as the folks songs she wants to play.
    Community (online)
    For learning chords and how to tune a ukulele the audience and influencers go to:
    For sheet music with chords and lyrics they go to:
    For social networking with other players and fans they go to:
    The Chicago ukulele community has to go to a number of sites to get the type of content they are searching for. There is not one site that houses all of the content or disseminates all of the content the community needs. We learned that we need to have a one-stop shop to fulfill the needs of our community.
    Community (real world)
    Harrison Works
    Harrison Works is a small studio in the Oak Park Arts District that sells oil paintings, hand-made clothes, and their calling card, the painted ukulele. Liz Gaylord opens the studio to the public from Thursday through Sunday. She kicks off her weekly opening with a late Wednesday night meeting of the Il. Ukulele Club of Oak Park, a half dozen friends from the neighborhood.
    They like to edit sheet music together for the best chord combination of their favorite songs. They like to talk trivia about obscure folk music and musicians. They like to go to local events together, performances and support different ukulele communities.
    We can support their needs by allowing them to communicate to the Chicago ukulele community on our website. We will have a forum just for chord arrangements and allow people to post their thoughts and edits. We will also allow those tabs to be printer friendly. We will have a question answer section for uke trivia and facts about different types of ukuleles. We also need a calendar to post all the upcoming events from club meetings to classes and performances. As our following grows, we will create events to bring the entire community together.
    Old Town School of Music
    Old Town School of Music has two locations in Chicago. The location where ukulele classes are taught is at the Lincoln Park location at 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. Currently the two classes are taught by Lanialoha Lee, who is the executive director of Kupa’a, a Chicago organization connected with the midwest Pacific Island community that promotes culture and art of the South Pacific.
    Ukulele enthusiasts can not only take classes at the Old Town School, but they can also buy ukuleles, instructional media, and can get their ukes repaired at the Different Strummer music store. The store is complementary to the lessons, and our site could benefit from offering instructional media, as well as lists of places to buy and get repairs done. It would also be beneficial to offer reviews on different kinds of ukuleles or a “What’s The Best Uke for Me?” how-to section.
    Nui Ukulele Club of Chicago
    Nui Ukulele Club of Chicago meets at 1077 W. Polk. Terry Pensel runs the meetings and focuses on teaching people how to play, sing and learn about themselves through the power of the ukulele. He holds various sections during the day the club meets. New members have orientation which starts at noon. Beginner lessons and jam session is at 1 p.m., and advanced classes are at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome to any session, only the music becomes more challenging to play. People go to Nui Ukulele for the educational value of sessions and help they receive from Terry.
    We can utilize Terry’s drive and spirit and offer to record video tutorials of him teaching ukulele. We can also archive videos of his meetings and categorize between the two sessions. Terry has not been able to conduct a meeting in a while due to a medical emergency. He hopes to have a meeting next month and wants UkeChicago to cover the grand reopening.
    Competitors page rank: 5 page rank: 5 page rank: 3 page rank: 3
    The ukulele underground is our closest competitor, but their website is jumbled. The front page does not have any cohesion. The posts are not categorized and there is too much going on at once. The website does serve its purpose to teach ukulele through its many lessons.
    Ukulelia is also very one-dimensional. It doesn’t categorize content and it is hard to find anything. It is a place where people can talk and post their ideas, but it is just a long list of random posts. It does serve the purpose of being one of the few social outlets for ukulele musicians.
    Our site is concise. Our content will be categorized and easy to find. We are bringing the wider internet community together for the Chicago area audience, and serve the purpose of connecting the Chicago community and making it stronger. The only Chicago-based ukulele website,, is out of commission. The Chicago ukulele community needs a social network and go-to place for uke news.
    We looked at the top average search terms for ukulele. Ukulele is searched approximately 673,000 times a month. The second most common term is a misspelled version, ukelele. Ukalele also made it into the top 20 most common search terms. The song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a popular fad song that shows fleeting interest, was in the top 10. These terms show that many people are new to the ukulele but show interest. Other signs of this are the terms: tuning, lessons, tabs, music, and chords.
    There is also evidence of many Uke pros searching online. The different types of ukes searched shows that some audience members know their craft, such as: soprano, tenor, baritone, electric, kamaka, and koa. Also, seasoned ukulele musicians look up terms for their favorite musicians like: Jack Johnson, Oscar Schmidt, and Jake Shimabukuro.
    In general, people search for consumer products like strings, tuners and of course ukuleles. People want to see: concert and orchestra reviews, stories on musicians, video tutorials, sheet music, tips on changing strings and tuning, and descriptions on ukuleles.
    Three ways we will reach our audience online are:
    Live chat
    With live chat we can let players collaborate with others over musical arrangements, lyrics to old songs and just chat about the latest performances or promote their clubs. We also need a forum where content can be posted for an extended time like burning questions where users can give advice and comment on posts.
    Tab Archive
    We should find the best links to ukulele tabs and have a printer friendly version of tabs with lyrics. Clubs still use paper, and it is hard to consider an alternative. But, they need a way to edit tabs online and collaborate with others so the printed version is the last edit they will need.
    Videos and Audio
    We have a great opportunity to get audio and video content in various forms. We want get videos of Chicago ukulele musicians at performances to go along with reviews, and audio of jam sessions we are invited to. Each week at different meetings, classes and events we can collect multimedia content to archive the ukulele community in Chicago.
    Two ways to engage the community in real life are:
    A IRL Event
    We can draw the Chicago community together by creating an event where various clubs, schools and musicians can meet in one physical space and network. Physical connections make online connections more meaningful and last longer.
    We can get the physical community involved by organizing contests where musicians can send us their videos and audio records to post and let the Chicago ukulele community pick the winners.

  2. “Find Yourself Columbia”
    Erik, Jon, Mandy, Rosette, Zach

    Who is our audience?

    Our audience is 18-25 year old men and women. They are undergraduate and graduate students attending Columbia College Chicago. The majority of our audience members have part-time jobs outside of school. Our target audience either lives on campus or within Chicago. Our audience members have goals set towards graduation and landing their ideal jobs.
    While in school they want to make as many connections as possible with their peers and faculty, which will help them as their careers progress. These students are interested in the people and the city around them, and they are always looking for ways to meet people on campus. During the week they are in class, but usually have gaps of time between classes or after classes when they aren’t busy. They usually go to the restaurants next to the University Center, Bar Louie, the South Loop Club––anywhere near campus––on a regular basis. Weekend outings usually consist of going to bars in the city or to parties at their friends’ apartments. These audience members are in search of new events and places to attend aside from the typical party/bar scene where they can be social and meet a wider net of people.
    Our audience finds their information on the web, mainly on Facebook from friends, about events like parties and shows. Occasionally they will spot posters around campus advertising events, but this is seldom. Our audience members are part of smaller communities like student organizations or simply their circle of friends who get together regularly to watch shows or grab a drink. They are a part of these communities because they have easy access to the information about these communities whether it is from Facebook messaging or email to phone calls from student organization leaders. Either way, these students have a central way of getting their information about what is going on within their smaller communities; however, to reach their goals of branching out a wider network, they need to be a part of the wider Columbia College community by going to events put together by students like themselves––student organizations. Here in lies the problem that the student organizations face: there is no central hub for the wider Columbia community to go to and find out about the events different student organizations plan for the Columbia community to engage in.
    Enter Find Yourself Columbia to save the day. By going to our site, students will be able to find out what student organizations are out there and what kind of events they are planning. From our site, students will get a better sense of the college community around them and find better ways to engage that community to make connections.
    Three potential audience members:
    Michelle Drevlow is a 21-year-old female who is a full time college student at Columbia College Chicago. She is a nanny to three kids in Lincoln Park, and enjoys going to new restaurants around the city and riding her bicycle along Lakeshore Drive. She is a piano performance major would love to have any job to play the piano professionally. She enjoys creating music because she loves experimenting with beats and melodies. She usually visits Facebook, various news sites and Twitter online. She believes that since Columbia is located in the loop, the departments are so segregated. She feels she would gain a sense of campus community through our site because she feels so distanced from the rest of the school and she would become more aware of what organizations are around at the school.
    Jennie Fajman is a 25-year-old female who is a full time student at Columbia College Chicago and works part time at Jewel. She enjoys going out to the local bar in her town and going out to see movies. She hopes to write hospital newsletters when she graduates college. She’s a journalism major who’s always been into writing. When she’s online, she usually visits Facebook, Twitter, various newsites, and her two blogs on vox and tumblr. She commutes to school and lives south of Chicago. She thinks our site would help her be more and touch and aware of what organizations and events are happening in the school.
    Joe Struck is a 23-year-old male and a full time student at Columbia College Chicago. He works part time as security at a bar in his hometown. He simply hopes to make a lot of money with whatever he is doing in life. He became a journalism major because he’s always had a natural curiosity for everything. When he goes online, he frequently visits,, and He believes our site would give him the ability to sit down and look into the different organizations that are happening in Columbia because some of them seem to have such a low profile. It would make him feel more connected with the school and give him more of the college experience considering he commutes.
    Where is the community that already exists around your site’s topic? (3 people examples)

    On the Columbia College website, students can search for the student organizations page where it lists most of the student organizations. From there, only a few organizations have links to Facebook or actual websites they have set up for their organization. When students click on the links it will take them to the main page for that student organization that may or may not be updated with current information and events. Each student organization has an email next to their names, but aside from the ones that have Facebook pages, that is the only source of communication the organizations have with outside students interested in their clubs. Students can also go to the Portfolio Center webpage on the college website to find out networking events set up; however, these events are mainly for meeting professionals in certain fields and not necessarily for connecting with other students. They can also go to the In the Loop webpage of Columbia College that posts news about certain college events sometimes not associated with student orgs.
    Student organizations meet in places all over campus, but the main place of gathering for these students is in the Hub located in the 1103 S. Wabash building. This is where student groups come together and have monthly meetings with the leaders of all the student orgs. and the administration. However, these monthly meetings usually don’t involve outside students, but individual organization meetings are usually open to everyone. Students gather in common areas around campus to hang out, do homework, grab a bite to eat, or waste time. Usually these areas are restaurants as we’ve stated in our previous answer, as well as Columbia spaces like the Hokin Annex in the 623 S. Wabash building; the Conway Center in the 1103 S. Wabash building; the Underground Cafe in the 600 S. Michigan building; or in the new 618 S. Michigan building.
    People go to these places because they have time between classes to get homework done, or they just don’t feel like going back to their dorms or apartments––especially the people who live farther away from campus. They also go to these places because there is enough room to have a lot of people gather and meet without feeling cramped. Some of these places also have internet access and computers to use, which also helps people who do not have laptops or who do not bring their laptops to school have something to do to kill time.
    Who are the influencers?
    SOC Chair Miranda Nicholas. 
 As the chair of the SOC, Miranda is a key conduit for accessing student orgs. It was thanks to her that I was able to give a brief presentation on our site last Wed at the monthly student org meeting. Miranda will be an essential resource since she has influence over student org leaders and whether or not they cooperate with us in building a site. Miranda has the power to bring up issues related to our site at student org meetings and her approval is necessary for future speaking engagements.
Director of Student Engagement Aldo Guzman. 
 Aldo is a great resource, and as director of the office of student engagement he has control over student org budgets. Aldo can provide valuable contact info as well as incentives for groups to provide us with info, event calenders, etc. I am working with Aldo to identify which student orgs are the most receptive to publicity and targeting them for contributions to the site.
    Director of Online Student Communications Matt Green.
    Matt is a great connector and will be an essential resource in helping our site reach as many people as possible. As director of student he is in charge with managing the loop site and reaching out to students through the school’s various online platforms. I have spoken with Matt about adding a link to our site via the Columbia Loop page as well as the newsletter and he said it won’t be a problem. Once our site is up and running, Matt will be able to help us make more students aware of what we offer and hopefully they will, in turn, express an interest in promoting themselves on our site.
    Who are your competitors?
    The Columbia Chronicle/page rank 3/10
    The school newspaper and website is probably our biggest source of competition since it is their job to cover school events. We’re different from the Chronicle because our sole focus will be student groups and activities. We can update as often as we need to, whereas the Chronicle is a weekly paper. The Chronicle does a good job of covering Columbia as a whole, but they do not put a lot of focus on specific groups or events. They also do not utilize their website. All their web content can be found in the paper.
    Columbia College Chicago website/page rank 6/10
    The college website has several sections devoted to student live, student events and student news. It’s the official site for the school so it is the first place most students will think of going. The school website does a good job of listing all the events in a calendar and gives price and location information. Our website will be different because we will event previews as well as post event stories. We will have pictures and audio and video from the events, something the school website does not have.
    Facebook groups
    Our other competition is the individual group sites that are hosted on Facebook. Many of the student organizations have their own Facebook groups. There are also groups for the college and different departments as well. The good thing about Facebook groups is most of the students are on Facebook and it’s easy to invite people to join the groups. The bad thing is there are a lot of groups for the same thing and there’s not one general location people can go to. Our website will be the ultimate destination for people to find all the information they want on student groups, activities and events in one location.
    What keywords are people searching for?
    “Columbia” will obviously be one of the keywords along with “student groups”, “student activities”, “Columbia events” and “Columbia sports.” We would make sure we tagged our stories and events on our site with these key words. We would also talk to our target audience members and see if there is something else they are specifically searching for. We would tweak our site to make sure it is easy for people to find content and we would get feedback to find out which stories people want to see more of on our site.
    Bring it together
    The first online tool we will use to engage our audience is the Twitter feed. We will use it to update the audience on what is going on each day at Columbia. We will also use Twitter to get feedback from our audience on our site to see what else they would like to see. Another online tool we will use is Flickr. We will post pictures from events, meetings and other happenings around Columbia to let our audience see what is going on. The third online tool we will use is blogging. We would like to do live blogs from sporting events and group meetings to give our audience an up-to-the-minute report of what is going on at Columbia.
    For the “real world” we would like to do a video to get feedback from different people about the site and what content they would like to see. We would interview people on camera and ask them how they feel about Columbia events and what events interest them the most. We would also like to talk to more groups and find out as much as we can about what they have coming up and how we can best report it on our site.

  3. Rosette Capito says:

  4. CUT-RATE says:


    The audience CUT-RATE is targeting:
    Men and women between the ages of 21 – 29. These individuals will have artistic careers – journalists, writers, graphic designers, photographers, individuals in film, painters, musicians, etc. And also people who work in local shops such as bakeries, clothing stores and art stores. This audience likes to enjoy the resources of their own neighborhoods to have fun. They go to concerts in their areas, they shop at local businesses and they hang out with their friends in their neighborhoods. For the most part all of their friends live in the same neighborhood as them. These people go to local pubs and drink cheap beers. They get quirky and go bowling with their friends and they are always up for the latest superhero flick. Our audience’s hopes and dreams do not reside in a desire to become famous or be the richest of the rich. These folks are good people who just want to go through life having a good time and playing the occasional Wii game. They love the things they do because these things make them happy. They don’t do things because it’s ‘cool’ or ‘other people are doing it’ but because these things truly make them happy and entertain them.

    In real life, our audience goes to bars like the Innertown Pub in Wicker Park, the Whirlaway in Logan Square, or stores like Perminent Records in Ukrainian Village and restaurants like Jeri’s Grill in Lincoln Square. Online they read the newspapers, they read sites the critique the newspaper, they read the Chicago Reader, but they sure as hell don’t visit

    They are a part of the communities they are a part of because like I said before this type of audience does what they do because it makes them happy. And this site will just be another place for them to find things to do that will make them happy and get new ideas for where they and their friends can hang out.

    Where is the community that already exists around CUT-RATE’s topic?

    Like I said before CUT-RATE’s users are regular newspaper readers and news readers online. They also visit sites like and In real life, our audience goes to bars like the Innertown Pub in Wicker Park, the Whirlaway in Logan Square, or stores like Perminent Records in Ukrainian Village and restaurants like Jeri’s Grill in Lincoln Square.

    When they are online they are looking for interesting stories that are off the usually popular track of stories. They avoid the easy clicks and find interest in hidden stories on a newspaper’s website. They also participate in Twitter and wouldn’t mind spending an afternoon browsing Etsy for a new set of homemade potholders.

    When they are out at the bars they don’t like to pay a lot for their drinks. They want a pool table (preferably free or less than $2). They want a good solid juke box with new music from My Morning Jacket, but Prince classics as well.

    Who are the influencers in CUT-RATE?

    Nichole O’Neal is a graphic designer who spends much of her time online and in the hear of wicker park, where she lives in a perfomance gallery with four other people. Nichole normally goes to design sites like and for deisng inspiration, but also uses the to find out what events are happening in her neighborhood. Nichole feels that a website focusing on cheap things in her neighborhood should have a calendar of events, as well as an area for people to check a bog and say they may attend an event. This way, she will have a better idea of how popular, or unpopular an event is. Nichole is drawn to pass on events only when they sound amazing, so good writing is key to get her enthusiastic, otherwise she only reccomends events and such when it is easy to do so, (email to a friend). Nichole doesn’t see herself as an influencer. However, as her friend who recives links from her everyday, I can gauruntee Nichole knows how to pass on the good stuff.

    Who are your competitors?
    — give three specific examples and list their Google PageRank score Google Rank: 5/10 Google Rank: 6/10 Google Rank NA Google Rank: 6/10

    — how are you different?
    CutRate gives readers a defined spending limit of 19 dollars, and focuses on three specific neighborhoods.

    — what are they doing right?
    1.have a “most popular” section by category with a drop down meneu

    2.”Weekend Agenda”

    3. Tabbed sideshow with new/popular events

    4. Main food/event/bar search has built in google map

    5. RSS feeds

    6. Clever bar write-ups

    — what are they doing wrong?

    1. Podcasts

    2. Not enough updates/ content

    3.No new information can be added (wickerparkgadlfy)

    What keywords are people searching within your space?

    events calendar
    chicago local music
    theater in chicago

    chicago shows

    free chicago

    drink specials

    — how can those keywords influence your content?
    Make sure to include specific neighborhood locations, so that people can find what they search for faster.

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    Bringing it all together…



    Online communities are the first and probably easiest and most powerful method for reach large groups of people very quickly. Facebook, Myspace and Twitter will be the main targets. Creating an account on each and amassing followers gives us multiple outlets to link out our content out. With Twitter and the tradition of retweeting we will end up doing very little work for potentially great returns.

    Linking to other sites that are not competitors – since we hope we are really unique – but that bring in our target audience can help to spread the word among cliques that follow other sites. In turn we would hope to draw the attention of those sites and hopefully have them realize the service we provide and in turn link back to us.

    A more ambitious idea, we create a viral video, or attempt to. T-mobile recently did just that. The distribution was free, global, instant, and incredibly successful. They also did it with very little resources. The most difficult part would be organizing the people, but groups like Critical Mass have done flash mobs for fun for years. Although statistically making a video go viral is next to nothing, the key is to make it unique and desired. And that is exactly what we are trying to do with this site, right?

    Real World


    Asking the establishments that we review and promote for free on our site to display a small poster or flier in return would work well. Often in bars there are walls of random band posters or drink specials. Putting ours up there along with the others may not create the biggest buzz, but it will get our name out there for low cost and low labor.


    I have been a huge fan of guerrilla advertising for a long time. One of my favorites is sticker graffiti. Basically you design a logo and print on stickers. More importantly packaging stickers, the ones that are very thin paper with extremely powerful glue. This is not entirely legal but I have personally done similar and worse for major corporations. We would not post anywhere that it would be considered defacing. Newspaper stands, concrete pillars, the corner of an L train window. Only in places where the stickers would be an improvement and be noticed.

    Three Specific Examples

    1. Kim Schubert is a 22 year old graduate student at Loyola University. She commutes to the city from the suburbs for class and work. Her job is to go to different Chicago public schools and administer tests to the children, then analyze the results. A few months later, she administers the tests again to find changes in the results. On weekends she enjoys going out to bars and parties, both in the suburbs and in the city. She doesn’t like clubs because of the crowd and the fact that they are usually way too expensive. She’s unsure of what the future holds for her. Kim graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a degree in psychology and would like to eventually work with children in a social work aspect. She uses Facebook to keep in touch with old ISU friends, and likes to browse the Internet, looking at random sites. Kim would use our site to find places to go on weekends in the city. She hopes to move out of her parent’s house within the next year, so the site would help her learn about different areas in the city and what they hold for her. She is also a fan of music, so learning of local bands playing in the area interests her as well.


    Keywords unique to the site would have to do with the entertainment of the week. Keywords could be days of the week, venues, restaurants, bars, alcohol, food, special types of entertainment, and the like.

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