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How One ‘Community’ Rallied for the Brand They Love: Interview with Catherine Boyd of Save Community

My colleagues and I have blogged about Community before. But a terrible fate has befallen my favorite sitcom: NBC placed it on hiatus. And TV fans know that a sitcom on hiatus rarely sees the light of day again. (Except for Parks and Recreation, luckily).

But Community fans didn’t want to take this lying down. Instead, they hit Twitter and other social networks with outrage and capital letters. The hashtag #OccupyNBC sprung up. Just about every single post from NBC on Facebook had hundreds of comments along the lines of “Save Community!” A flash mob was organized at 30 Rock where over a hundred fans gathered and sang a Community-ized parody of “O Christmas Tree.”

One woman, Catherine Boyd of New Jersey, has become one of the leaders of the Save Community Movement. She’s helped organize the flash mob, spearhead the social media efforts, and outline specific ways to aid the movement. Intensely enthusiastic but sincerely humble, she and the rest of the people behind Save Community have a lot to teach businesses about passion and hard work.

How did you become interested in Community?

I found it on the Hulu home page. One show was all it took.

What made you decide to become an advocate for the movement? What motivates you to continue working on it?

I read a gossip blog post about the hiatus and the Twitter commotion. I hadn’t used Twitter much until the hiatus, but went on there to see what the commotion looked like. I felt so shocked and heartbroken when I heard the news. It’s just sheer terror and sadness that keeps me going.

I will not rip on NBC; I know that there are cash problems from the low Nielsen numbers and lackluster ad sales. I realized long ago that we had to do the PR and marketing. That’s a terrifying realization, but highly motivating. I am totally focused on drawing positive, funny, creative forms of street level fun to NBC to draw some press and heat to it.

How much time do you spend promoting Save Community?

Way too much time! I’ve been up until 4 a.m. every night since the hiatus was called, sometimes until 7 a.m. When I have a day off, I’m sometimes on the computer all day.

What are some of things you’ve done to support the movement?

The first goal is to encourage and mobilize the troops. I try to give away iTunes copies of the show and other small prizes. Other supporters and I all tweeted the ad sponsors of the show.

I’ve brainstormed with the others how to get corporate attention, a sponsorship, and the biggest media splash we can in the shortest time. Yoplait and their parent company, General Mills, were very nice to us on Twitter, so I’ve been working out a yogurt purchase, or a larger dollar amount of General Mills food to donate to a homeless shelter/food bank.

The flash mob idea came from wanting something surreal and funny that the press would find entertaining. I’ve already called for flash mobs, both physical and virtual, around Sony Pictures, Yoplait, General Mills, and the NBC Store.

I was up till 4 or 6 every morning voting for Abed in the Chicago RedEye online poll, and was interviewed by Ethan Sacks at the NY Daily News and We Love Cult.

In a way, my lack of self-interest is absolutely helping us. I have completely put myself on the line to save this show, and am completely motivated by a fourth season and making the cast and creator happy. Period. I think people feel that love and commitment. The media can hear how much I love this show, that I’m willing to do anything to craft a sound bite for them, and they feel good supporting an underdog. Maybe I sound a little strange on the phone after staying up all night for a month and a half, but my heart’s in the right place.

30 Rock Christmas Save Community flash mob

30 Rock was filled with singing fans

What are some of the most creative ways that fans are promoting Community?

One fan offered a copy of the season 1 DVD. The fan videos, fan fiction, and fan art are off the hook.

What tool (social media, blog, events, etc.) has been the most beneficial in raising awareness for the benched sitcom?

Twitter is amazing. We can hash things out like a conference call in a minute, and BOOM, we’re out and running. I absolutely love it.

A professor friend of mine who is versed in social networks told me that the best way to reach out is through family and friends. So I’ve tried to bring it back to Facebook and personal emails.

Sir Ribbit has Tumblr expertise, and I am so grateful I can hand my most precious information to him, and that it can go out that way.

The Craigslist flash mob post to Manhattan was my love letter to Manhattan, and led to the NY Daily News contact and a pretty good turnout for the mob, so we’re using that as an ongoing tool for future mobs. The L.A. one starts off, “Hello City of Angels!” I actually foresee some miracles with some angels in L.A.

Have you had any acknowledgement from NBC, Sony Pictures, the cast, or crew?

Every media person I’ve spoken with loves the show. The cast members are the nicest in the business. I think there is a deep industry love of the cast, and I think we’re seeing our fan stories printed because they have been so nice.

Sony Pictures filmed the NYC flash mob and interviewed all of us. They also followed us into the NBC store and watched us giggling over the merchandise.

Glenn at the NBC Store runs the physical and online store. The fact that he reached out to us was huge. We’re completely crazy, buying everything. Due to fan demand, he had to bring figurines into the 30 Rock store for the first time ever. He keeps selling out of Troy and Abed mugs, and is having trouble keeping up with sales.

I don’t watch and wait for cast and creator tweets, but Glenn was impressed that the many members of the cast tweeted the NYC flash mob. I am happy and grateful that they chime in.

troy and abed in the morning community mug

More merchandise sold means better odds for renewal

Anything else you’d like to tell me about promoting the Save Community cause?

We need to strike hard and fast. Our crazy stunts are a good way to reach extra Nielsen households, so we need more of those. I think we have a very good shot at a fourth season. We are very passionate, committed, vocal, and willing to buy any merchandise needed to help the suits see the sense behind the decision. I even told Sony: if you monetize something, we will buy.

Other fans want a mob to help the rebuilding effort in Joplin, MO. We’re going to sing “Somewhere Out There” at Universal Orlando, and I hope we build a Guinness World Record blanket fort there.*

The most effective action a fan could take is to support Yoplait, General Mills, Sony Pictures, and/or the NBC Store with revenue. One yogurt a week helps, but it can also be incorporating General Mills products in your shopping, buying food for a shelter, movie tickets for a Sony Pictures movie, or things from the NBC Store. In all cases, a tweet or Facebook post with a goatee picture interacting with the product is good. A flash mob to the NBC Store at 30 Rock to buy merchandise, or a virtual mob to buy out the online store, complete with goatees in either case, would be positive also.

So let’s give ‘em hell, give it our best fight, and I think we have a very solid chance.

What businesses can learn from Save Community:

  • It isn’t all about you. Save Community is gaining attention because individuals are working as a team and not pulling the attention to their personal agendas. The end goal is clear and concise, and nobody is losing sight on the prize.
  • Prepare to put in some hard work. Diehard Save Community members have already lost hours of sleep and taken time out of their days to create posters, go to flash mobs, or manage blogs. There are going to be long nights ahead, but it will be worth it when you see that first return in investment.
  • You attract more flies with honey. Catherine says in every interview and blog post not to attack NBC. The repeat positivity has attracted good publicity from the media, Sony Pictures, and NBC themselves. Attacking another brand will not reflect well on yours.
  • Seek outside help when needed. Catherine directly asks people to retweet Save Community news and passes off promotional tasks when outside her area of expertise. She’s fantastic at acknowledging everyone who aids the movement.
  • Show a little love. Community will die unless network executives and advertisers can see some money from Save Community’s actions of buying merchandise. If you happen to sell furniture to an office supply company, return the favor and order some pens from them. You’re practically guaranteed repeat business and lifelong brand loyalty.

To keep track of the Save Community movement, follow Catherine on Twitter, search the hashtag #SaveCommunity in Twitter, or check out their blog.

What else can brands or businesses can learn from Save Community? Any Community fans out there?

*These are throwbacks to events in Community episodes.

IMAGE CREDIT TO CATHERINE BOYD AND MARIANNE O’LEARY.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Cybernetic SAM

    Awesome! I love this show, it is definitely one of my all time favorites! I feel like this always seems to happen to the shows I love. I understand back in the day of “Freaks and Geeks” that the technology to track and truly take full advantage of everyone watching and following the show (as this was pre-Hulu etc…). But over the years there is a massive demand for this kind of humor, and as we can plainly see there is a HIGH demand for this show with the movement and all. And let me say this, I am tired of having to deal with the heartbreak of amazing shows becoming canceled only to be replaced by ridiculous sitcoms with washed up actors trying to make a comeback at a brutal and painful cost (*cough* “Two and a Half Men” *cough* really, how does a show like this survive?)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Here, here! How is it that (in general) bad sitcoms are the ones with the best ratings? Hopefully once ratings start coming from DVRs and online viewings and not from the broken Nielson model, the shift in TV programming can move from solely crime procedurals and badly-written sitcoms to something better. I’m willing to be patient, but not if they cancel Community in the process.

  2. Alex Brodsky

    Great Post, Mandy! As a die-hard Community fan myself (the Troy and LeVar Burton meeting might be the hardest I’ve ever laughed… until the Hearts of Darkness episode which I’m pretty sure went over many viewers heads).

    And the proof is in the pudding! Everything you/Catherine said is true and works:
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tca-community-will-be-back-279184

    Cue the Greendale school song! #MoreJohnGoodman!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      The rest of season three is a go, now it’s time to secure a fourth!

      I was a huge fan of the clips show – I mean, how many TV shows mock clip shows by filming all new content for it? It’s brilliant, and exactly the kind of meta commentary we need on TV right now.

      Also, yes, #MoreJohnGoodman.

  3. Tony Promo

    This ALWAYS happens to the “smart” shows, i.e. Arrested Development… but at least we’re getting that back!!!!

    Somehow, “Friends” is on for several years (I can proudly say I never saw a single episode), but Community only lasts a few seasons? PSSSSH…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      So excited for Arrested Development. Community is brilliant because a lot of producers and writers from AD work on the show.

      I imagine that if they do go ahead and cancel it (though let’s hope they don’t), there will be an intense following built up à la Arrested Development.

  4. Jenna Markowski

    Cool. Cool Cool Cool.

    I love Community and I am filled with devastation that it has been pulled from the line-up, so I appreciate all of Catherine’s efforts! I think the flash mobs are awesome, and I had never heard about the efforts with Yoplait/General Mills. It’s great that Community Fans are coming together and investing in yogurt and cereal to donate to a good cause!

    Outside of Community, this interview offers a lot of useful tips for businesses. I think the most important one to keep in mind is that “you attract more flies with honey.” Creating a positive media buzz will always prove more effective than a negative one. :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      The super-dedicated Save Community team is constantly coming up with new ways to reach out to the sponsor corporations, network, fans, and media. They have an endless supply of creativity and enthusiasm, which is doing nothing but helping them.

      And they say that any publicity is good publicity, but in this case, the positive publicity is amazing. Do you really want to go on the record saying that you hate Brand X or Person Y? They could be your biggest ally one day, so it’s better not to preemptively burn your bridges.

  5. Jeff Porretto

    I’ll vehemently support any effort that gives the world more Allison Brie… just sayin’ =]

    Though I never got into this show (Lord knows why it didn’t “stick”) I’m always sad when well written scripted shows go away. Especially given how successful all the utter crap on TV is…. It boggles my mind really.

    Nice post Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Jeff!

      Hopefully the Save Community efforts work so that there’s more Allison Brie in the world. Everyone knows that would be a heavy loss to bear, and from what I understand her role on Mad Men isn’t very big. (I could be wrong, I still have yet to start that show.)

  6. Jen

    Community has been one of my favorite shows for almost 3 years, I looked forward to watching it on Thursday nights with all my other favorite NBC shows. How could they keep Whitney and get rid of Community?!?!?! I will never understand it…EVER!

    I totally love that Catherine is putting all of this effort into helping the show get a 4th season. I want to give her a nice big THANK YOU!!!!

    Great interview Mandy, thanks for helping her spread the good word about Community! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I’m ready to drop this claim right here: Community is my favorite show on television. There, I said it. I think it was the perfect program to kick off a block of Thursday night comedy.

      Hopefully all the Save Community effort will result in at least a fourth season. A fourth season would be a nice way to wrap up the series and have a proper graduation. Plus, a fourth season would make Community very marketable for syndication, which would make NBC and Sony Pictures a lot of money. :)

  7. Rachel

    I only just got into Community, so I was sad to hear that it was being put on hiatus … but Alex’s link gives me hope. :) Great interview here, Mandy! Catherine’s level of effort and dedication to the Save Community movement is really just amazing. Excellent takeaways as well. I love everything about this post and am now more motivated to catch up on the past seasons of the show I missed the first time around! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Well, you know what they say – better late than never!

      But a lot of fans are discovering Community late, but they are discovering it via the web, or borrowing their friends DVDs, so NBC is unaware of the following.

      Catherine is to be commended for all that she did/does/is doing and businesses that have similar passion will go far in life! Now go catch up on those Community episodes!

  8. amy

    Love this interview, Mandy! It was so nice of Catherine to answer your questions, along with Jen I send her a huge THANK YOU!!!!

    Your tips following the interview were great. I love the one about catching more flies with honey, it’s a tip that can’t ever be heard too often :) “Killing” people with kindness also gets better results than screaming at someone… at least in my experience, LOL.

    I hope that with all of Catherine’s hard work as well the rest of the Save Community ‘community’, that a fourth season will come as a result. It’s such a great show, I’d hate to see it canceled so early in it’s life!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Catherine is getting a huge thank you! I sent her some QLP swag and a Bubba over the weekend! She said that she’ll take some pictures, so I’ll make sure that you all see them!

      Killing people with kindness is a lot harder to do than scream, but it definitely works out better for you when you do. A kind demeanor goes far on and offline. :)

  9. Catherine

    Dear Mandy and the commenters,

    Fellow fans keep me going. Thank YOU for all your support! I’m giving you a scoop; I’ve been dropping hints on my twitter feed. I’m going to the LA mob! I’ve been keeping it a secret, so this will be Mandy’s Easter egg! I’m in Marin county with friends and will do the tourist bit in San Francisco tomorrow. Back to LA: Anyone bringing letters addressed to Robert Greenblatt or other NBC execs will win a prize, even if it’s a small thing!

    Also, check out the linked feeds on twitter and Facebook for @Greendale_CC. Dean Pelton sent paintballs to Jay Leno and John Cleese today! Also, I’m hearing rumors that Season 3 will pick up in March. My goal is to get enough curious viewers to tune in that this show stays off the chopping block FOREVER!

    If anyone has any ideas on PR for the LA mob on Thursday, (5:15pm, 1/19, 10 Universal City Plaza) please let me know. There is a press release at the top of savecommunitynow dot blogspot dot com that you can copy and paste into an email. A google search of LA-based TV and radio stations is good; if we call them and tell them about the mob, they will very likely come out or tell others to join us.

    OK, zealous fanatic rant over. I love you guys! And yed, Mandy, I’ll send pictures with the swag at the beginning of February (I’m going to Texas to visit my 85 year old grandparents after the LA mob, so it will be a while)!

    Xoxo
    Yours,
    Catherine

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Catherine,

      Thank you again for the wonderful interview and commenting! Your dedication is inspiring to anyone that has a cause/business/plan that they want to see succeed!

      Best of luck with the flash mob on Thursday, and enjoy Bubba when you finally unite with him! He’s the nicest stress ball we know! :)

      Mandy

  10. Jill Tooley

    I only recently started watching Community, so I hope it doesn’t get permanently shelved. It’s SO good! The humor is similar to 30 Rock’s in the sense that it’s subtle but also intelligent…and it has those slapstick moments mixed in for good measure. Right up my alley!

    As others have said, how about canceling some of the garbage shows that are still on TV? We can start with American Idol. That show ran its course about 10 years ago, in my opinion. And what about crap like Man Up? Makes me want to barf. All of the shows I watch seem to get the boot! Maybe it’s time to start watching Jersey Shore after all, eh?

    Excellent interview!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Jill!

      You would think that a show with a wonderful mixture of intelligent humor and slapstick would appeal to everyone, but apparently way too many people find the show “alienating.” No joke, I read that in a lot of comments on entertainment articles about Community.

      American Idol can bite the dust, as can most reality shows (I’m looking at you, the Bachelor and MTV’s entire lineup). Though if it means Jersey Shore would be axed, I’d definitely suffer through a few episodes. ;)

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    I love “Community”. It wasn’t my favorite show at first but it’s REALLY turned a corner recently.

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