Monday, 15 August 2011

WE need you help

Well this morning (South African time) Pete left Cape Town and flew to Johannesburg, and now he is driving down to Djuma. His mission? To get all systems ready for the relaunch of the LIVE safaris on Wednesday (the 17th August) morning. Marc and Seb are back in camp, as of yesterday, and Becky will be filling in for Tara while she is still on holidays in England (until the end of August, when she returns to Djuma). There are still a few issues with the radio link from Djuma to Hoedspruit which need to be worked out before the Internet connection is good enough for streaming, but Pete and Jurie (and a few others) are working hard to get this all done by Wednesday morning.

In the meantime WE need to get ready to do our piece when they get the safaris LIVE. What exactly is 'our piece'? 

Well many of you have offered to help WildEarth and Djuma increase the viewership of the Djuma Safari and Djuma Waterhole cams so that enough advertising revenue can be earned to pay Marc, Tara and Seb's salaries as well as the food, fuel, Internet bandwidth, maintenance and other costs that it takes to keep these safaris LIVE. To make this happen WE need to about double the current viewership. Over the past few weeks we have received literally hundreds of ideas to do just that. Some have been super good but just not very practical to implement, and after a great deal of discussion we have settled on 5 basic ideas.

The five ideas, that we are going to start with, to promote the cams are:

Embedding the players in as many high traffic sites as possible.
Advertising the fact that these streams are available to be watched.
Trying to get as much press for these cams as possible.
Getting the safaris into more schools.
Selling merchandise that encourages people to visit and/or

Obviously we don't want to start actually getting any of this promotion 'out there' before the safaris are back on air. It would just be a waste having people coming to visit pages where there was nothing happening, but we do need to start getting organised ...

The first thing that we need to do is call for volunteers and get all the volunteers organised into teams. We have chosen to use Yahoo Groups as a place to gather, discuss, debate and plan all our promotional activities, because Yahoo Groups has worked super well for the zoomies up till now. Here we can have little databases which keep a record of which journalists have been contacted, merchandise that has been approved, embedded players, etc. We can also maintain calendars of which schools will be interacting on the safaris when and files with docs explaining all the processes for advertising and so much more. 

So if you are interested in volunteering your time, money, contacts, experience or passion to make these safaris successful the first thing you need to do is choose the team you want to join and send an email to that team address explaining what you have available to contribute. Here are the teams:

WEadvertise - Many people offered to donate money to keep the safaris running, but this cannot work as we cannot employ people in the hope that there will be enough donations each month to pay salaries. However, if you are willing to donate money to keep the safaris running then this is the team for you! This team will share ideas and experience in buying advertising on the Internet (Google Adwords or Facebook or other) and driving traffic to, or one of the Facebook pages where these cams are embedded. The idea is to very carefully buy advertising that can reach the kind of people that you think would like these cams and grow our viewership.

WEmerchandise - This team not only helps grow our viewership, but you can also make money doing it! Thats right YOU can make money in this team. You can design and sell T-shirts, caps, ... anything as long as it includes the WildEarth and Djuma logos as well as web addresses and encourages people to visit our cams. WE and Djuma will supply you with logos and high resolution photographs, for FREE, and you can sell your products to the WildEarth community and keep 100% of the profits for yourself. However, the two rules are (1) each product must promote our web addresses and increase traffic, and (2) all artwork and merchandise has to be pre-approved by WildEarth and Djuma management.

WEpress - If you can write, or you have contacts in the media world, or you have the time to find lots of journalists email addresses and communicate with them, then this is the team for you. The WEpress team will focus on trying to get as many articles, TV/radio interviews, etc. for WildEarth and Djuma. This could have a very very large impact on traffic and could be the way that YOU make a large difference.

WEeducate - WildEarth, and Djuma, has always been about teaching people about our natural world. Not lecturing people, but more immersing them in this environment and letting the learning happen. One of the greatest contributions any of us can make is to take this special experience into our children's lives through schools. Its been happening for a long time, but now we are going to encourage and organise school participation in our safaris. If you would like to be a part of the team that takes LIVE safaris, where kids can ask the ranger questions and get answers all the way from Africa, then this team is for you.

WEembed - At the end of the day what is going to make this all work is the number of people that WE can get to watch the stream. The team that focuses on taking the cams to where the audiences are is the WEembed team. This is all about reaching out to high traffic sites where the kind of people that we think would enjoy a LIVE safari or waterhole cam already visit and convincing them to embed our cams into their websites. So if you have some time to surf the web, email webmasters and get our cams 'out there', then this is the team for you.

WE don't want to make too many rules and want this to be a community project, so if you feel you can contribute to more than one team then by all means join more than one. But please don't join and then not get involved and help. This is just demoralising for those that are trying hard. In fact if some volunteer, but don't seem to in a position to contribute much time, energy, experience, contacts, etc. then we will politely suggest that you wait till you have the capacity. Remember however, that you don't need money, experience or contacts to make a difference. There are going to be plenty of things to do that just require time and passion. WE will all help each other.

So to begin with choose your team/s and send an email explaining what you can contribute to that team. Then WE will decide (quickly) who can join the official teams and you will receive an invite to join the relevant group/s. From there we will work in small teams to get the basic plans in place, organise ourselves and prepare for the relaunch ...

Thanks, in advance, to all those of you that have expressed a desire to help us make this work and will be volunteering for a team.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The safaris are coming back next week!

WE are so excited to announce that if all goes according to plan the LIVE safaris from Djuma will be back on WildEarth at 06h30 (CAT) on 17th August 2011. 

Tara, Marc and Sebastien will be presenting, directing and operating the camera on the Ganda and will be doing so under the auspices of Djuma Game Reserve. As most of you know Safari Television was no longer able to afford to continue running the LIVE safaris in the way that they had and was forced to stop broadcasting. Djuma very kindly, and very courageously, stepped up and has agreed to cover the costs of operating these safaris for 3 months, in order to give us all an opportunity to make them viable. 

What does that mean, 'make them viable'? Well simply put it means that WE need to work together to increase the viewership of the safaris and the Djuma Waterhole Cam to the point that the Internet advertising served on these streams produces at least enough revenue to cover the operating costs of the safaris and the waterhole. The good news is that it is much cheaper for Djuma to operate this broadcast than Safari Television because they own the land and have an existing lodge, which means some of the costs are reduced or removed. However, we would still need to about double the current viewership. 

WE need your help to promote these cams, and are excited that so many people have said that they will help. Over the past few weeks WE have received many many ideas and suggestions and we have been having numerous internal discussions figuring out how best to proceed. Talking to Jurie at Djuma we have narrowed down a few key things that we think can make the difference and substantially increase the viewership of this amazing broadcast. They are: (a) embedding the cams in as many high traffic sites as possible, (b) running several Google Adwords campaigns, (c) getting as much press coverage as possible, (d) encouraging you to sell T-shirts and curios (where you keep all the money) but that promote Djuma and WildEarth, (e) providing branded buttons and banners to sites to promote the cams, (f) getting the streams into as many schools as possible and (g) as much social media campaigning as possible.

After the incredible success of the zoomie volunteer community (more than 40 volunteers) that control the Pete's Pond and Djuma Waterhole cameras, we have decided to build a new promotion community based on the same Yahoo group system. I will be putting out a new Blog on the weekend that will both explain each of the various promotional ideas in much more detail as well as explain how you can volunteer to be a part of the teams that will tackle each approach.

The first stage is get everybody that wants to be a part of this drive to make the safaris sustainable into the group, and organise exactly what we are going to do and how. WE don't want this to become an uncoordinated affair where the wrong messages are communicated or where we are all working at cross purposes to each other. So please make sure that you do volunteer and join up with everyone else and work together in teams. Also, we must make sure that we don't start promoting before the safaris are actually back on air. There is no point in driving traffic to a player where there is no broadcast. We are aiming for the 17th August, but there are some things that are not in our direct control (e.g. the radio network from Djuma to Hoedspruit) that has to be finalised before then. So lets get everybody (that volunteers) into the group, make sure we all understand everything and be ready to leap into action the minute the safaris start up again. More info in a few days ...

Thanks for all your ideas and emails of support. You truly are a very special community of viewers and I am sure that together WE can make these safaris successful enough that they will be broadcasting on WildEarth from Djuma for many years to come.