Site stuff

Site Stuff: We’re in this together, quite literally

Our staff's been doing some getting together. And we'll be doing a lot more of it.

One of many strange things about this little company, and one of the many perils of being the first venture of our kind on the continent, is that you learn what works as you go because there really isn't any precedent. In fact, a lot of the lessons we've learned now get passed on to our independent friends at Boston Sports Journal, as well as the several other startups launching even as we speak around the U.S. and Canada. We let them know both the good stuff we've done and the bad.

One of the bad, I've now got no doubt, is that we as a staff always should have spent more time together.

As I've shared here many times, our primary means of communication is an array of group texts, one big one for everybody and then a few others that aim at the big three teams, the multimedia operation and one that's just for discussing Friday Insider. But that isn't enough and it never was enough. I embraced the idea of all of us being truly independent and relishing that -- I was like that at the newspapers -- but it doesn't work for everyone and, thus, it didn't work for us. We became, I think, a little too comfortable thinking of each other as little faces inside little circles on our phones, not as real people.

This isn't breaking any new ground, obviously. Again, it's a common issue in business. But then, I should have recognized that as soon as we began growing rather than just forging ahead with my own work -- I'm still like that -- and hoping everything else would just magically sort itself out. Because it doesn't. We needed better direction, better leadership.

This statement has nothing to do with any staff changes, by the way. This is very general, trust me.

[caption id="attachment_500512" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Left to right: Dali and Dejan Kovacevic, Audrey Snyder, Matt Sunday, Christopher Carter, Matt Gajtka, Chris Mueller, Taylor Haase, Chris Benson, Lance Lysowski, Dale Lolley, Long Hong, Chris Bradford. - LONG HONG / DKPS[/caption]

So, there we are up there in the silly Christmas photo that Long Hong set up with his timer. That was from a staff meeting at the office Tuesday. Some of us, as you can tell, were pretty tired, having stayed up the entire previous night to cover all the news from the Steelers' momentous night in Cincinnati. But we're going to do those meetings twice a month no matter what. We'll talk, complain, praise, vent, encourage and come up with ideas to help this thing continue to grow.

Now, because we'll all be in one room, it won't just be Taylor Haase and Matt Gajtka who shout me down. They all can do it. Lance Lysowski did it. Audrey Snyder did it. We have a couple newer members who wouldn't yet be as vocal, understandably, but we're all doing our best to make them feel at home. They've all been tremendous, and it's been really uplifting to hear that from readers, as well.

And it's all good. That's how it's supposed to go. Because we're all in this together.

HERE COMES BASEBALL

Lance's punishment for shouting me down -- I kid, I kid -- is spending his next week covering PiratesFest today and then flying down to Orlando, Fla., for Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings that begin Monday and run through the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.

I'm excited about this mostly because its offers Lance a headfirst dive into the beat after weeks of trying to scratch stuff out of no actual developments. That said, I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge Lance has been a great team player here the past few weeks helping us with editing, web publishing and so forth, staying up with us until sunrise while we were working in Cincinnati.

He also provided me with good, sound advice when I called him from Cincinnati to let him know what Dale Lolley and I had gotten from the locker room regarding Ryan Shazier. My head was spinning at that stadium. Emotion does that. Lance, as young as he is, was the calm voice in the process who kept us from publishing material we might later have regretted.

Anyway, suffice it to say we'll all have Lance's back next spring and summer when he needs us right back.

OUR TRAVEL PREP

I offered anyone on our four-person football team the option to stay home for Christmas when the Steelers play that day in Houston. Christopher Carter and Matt Sunday responded within seconds that they're going, and Dale Lolley, ever the dutiful beat man, predictably didn't even dignify my question with a response!

So yeah, all four of us are going. It's a special season. None of us would feel right missing a minute of the coverage.

Also, Chris Bradford's entrenched himself so quickly on the Penguins beat -- his Five in the Box game features have been particularly well received -- that he'll fly solo on the upcoming trip to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver. That'll buy Gajtka a little deserved time off, and it'll buy me time to focus on Patriots week.

CHRISTMAS GIFT SUBS: 53

Christmas gift subscriptions are here!

Go buy some!

Our sales count is currently at 53 annual equivalents -- a one-year subscription counts as one, a three-year as three and a Lifetime as 10 -- toward our goal of 1,000 such units. That looks like it's miles off, and it is, but if we get to 100 through the weekend, we'll be on pretty much the same pace as last December, when we did (barely) beat the goal by reaching 1,081.

Can't stress this enough: This time of year is as important to our business as it is to most. Roughly a quarter of our new subscriptions are bought at Christmastime. So any falloff in that category affects the budget for the rest of the year. That's why we push this as hard as we do.

If you have any questions about gift subscriptions, large or small, please don't hesitate to email us to ask: Help@DKPittsburghSports.com

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BACK TO BUSINESS

• Subscriptions are at 39,419. That's a net loss of 45 this week.

• We're at 355 in the Lifetime Lunatic category, with two sold this week. If you're interested in upgrading to any level at any time for any reason, click or tap My Account in the menu, then click or tap Upgrade Subscription.

• We're at 37,504 total active apps in devices. Of that, 27,886 are Apple, 9,634 are Android.

• On company social media, we're at 28,376 on Twitter27,033 on Facebook8,726 on InstagramTaylor's asking for help: She wants us to get to 10,000 on Instagram because, once we reach that, she can use that platform to greater benefit.

• We had 92,410 downloads of our DK Sports Radio podcasts for the past 30 days, an average of 3,080 per day.

• We had 101,302 views on our original video content for the past four weeks, an average of 3,376 per day.

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