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View from the 'ville
Thursday, September 22, 2005

By Al Myatt

New Pirates' Chest plots answers to snail mail

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The Pirates' Chest

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©2005 Bonesville.net

If only Uncle Sam delivered the mail as fast as Chris Johnson or Aundrae Allison tote the football, Bonesville.net's new role as publisher of The Pirates' Chest would be as sweet as an East Carolina berth in the Liberty Bowl.

As it is, the mail service is behaving more like a lumbering lineman who missed off-season conditioning.

Those who peruse Bonesville's web site and have not stepped up to support ECU athletics through membership in the Pirate Club might not be aware that the former newspaper tabloid format of the Pirates' Chest has gone the way of leather helmets.

A Pirate Club committee, under the auspices of club president John Hudson and led by Carl Davis, selected Bonesville.net from among five proposals to take over the production of the Pirates' Chest. The fourth annual Bonesville Magazine was actually the first installment of the new plan which will include the mailing of eight 36-page Pirates' Chest magazines to club members during the school year.

The new Pirates' Chest format will have glossy color covers and 32 inside pages featuring full color on premium newsprint.

Bonesville.net editor and publisher Danny Whitford liked the timing of The Pirates' Chest opportunity with ECU athletics poised for a resurgence under the leadership team of Chancellor Stave Ballard, Athletic Director Terry Holland, football coach Skip Holtz and basketball coach Ricky Stokes.

Based on responses to this year's edition of Bonesville Magazine, co-branded with The Pirates' Chest, Whitford said the only negative reaction has been because the postal service has in effect drawn a flag for delay of game.

If you're thinking your bills arrive on time, so why can't the Pirates' Chest, the difference is a category of mail delivery called non-profit bulk rate.

There are varieties of mail delivery which are comparable to a wideout who does a 4.3 second/40 yards, but non-profit bulk rate is more snail-ish than mail-ish.

"The feedback we have received about the content in the launch edition has been flattering all the way around," Whitford said. "The only complaints we have received have come from a number of Pirate Club members whose magazines were slow in arriving in their mail boxes.

"We know of at least a couple of members, including (Bonesville Magazine editor) Ron Cherubini, whose magazines still had not arrived as of this week."

Cherubini resides in Doylestown, PA.

The launch edition was mailed in the days prior to ECU's 24-21 win over Duke — on Labor Day weekend.

Rest assured that Bonesville/Pirates' Chest personnel are making adjustments like Skip Holtz and staff at halftime of the Wake Forest game.

"The Pirate Club is working with us to fine-tune the production and delivery schedule," Whitford said. "We're also considering the possibility of offering delivery by first-class or priority mail to those willing to pay an extra fee."

Content for the October issue of The Pirates' Chest went to the printer last week and the magazines were scheduled to be mailed this week.

"It will be interesting to see when the October issue starts showing up in people's mailboxes," Whitford said.

It has been Bonesville's goal in taking over publication of The Pirates' Chest that readers will enjoy the content regardless of when they receive it. Writers who deliver daily content on Bonesville.net are pooling their talents for The Pirates' Chest.

"The biggest challenge with a monthly magazine is creating content that is timeless in nature," said Pirates' Chest editor Denny O'Brien. "With the production schedules the way they are, we are submitting the magazine to the printer about three weeks before it hits the mailboxes of our readers.

"With that challenge in mind, I wanted to shift the focus of content away from providing information and more towards entertaining our readers."

Bonesville will apply concepts from national publications in seeking a timeless quality for the Pirates' Chest.

"One of the things I wanted to do was to provide recurring monthly features that readers will expect to see," O'Brien said. "If you look at the most successful sports publications, they will include that type of content. Each issue of Sports Illustrated, for example, has its 'Scorecard' and 'Life of Reilly' features every week. Both are fairly brief, but always are entertaining reads.

"In addition to that, I felt that it was important to provide timeless features and human interest pieces. The 'Pirate Time Machine' has been a wildly popular feature on Bonesville.net, and I think it will be exciting to see those in print format each month.

"With the human interest pieces, I really want ECU sports-related stories that take readers away from the playing field and deeper into the lives of Pirates coaches and players. That appeals to a wide audience."

In addition to entertaining with timeless pieces, the new Pirates' Chest will be a communication tool for the Pirate Club and its vital endeavors that support ECU athletics financially.

"This is a must read for Pirate Club members and fans," said Dennis Young, Executive Director of the Pirate Club. "We anticipate a state of the art production for this type of publication."

Young noted that the changes in The Pirates' Chest format were in response to a survey of Pirate Club.

In selecting Bonesville.net, the Pirate Club is keeping the print publication in the family. When he was an ECU student more than 30 years ago, Whitford served in the sports information office, including a stint as acting SID under then-athletic director Clarence Stasavich. Whitford has maintained his interest and support of ECU athletics as president of Carolina Data Systems, his statewide computer solutions company.

Whitford's daughter, Sara, is creative director for The Pirates' Chest, and one of her responsibilities, in addition to laying out the magazine, is staying in close communication with the Pirate Club.

"The way production works is we, particularly Denny (O'Brien) and myself, coordinate with Ann (Laliotes) at the Pirate Club office throughout the month to get their content and dress it up for the magazine," Sara said. "After going through the content submitted by our own writers, we contact (SID) Tom McClellan in the media relations office and request photos to accompany the articles, features and columns."

The cover is one of the last facets of production. The tenth of the month is the deadline for sending the packaged content to the printer. The process itself of printing the individual Pirates' Chest magazines for roughly 8,500 Pirate Club members takes about four days.

The magazines are then trucked to a mailing company in Raleigh where addresses of Pirate Club members are printed on them. The magazines are then trucked to the post office.

Sara said those who would like to get their Pirates' Chest a little faster should take note.

"Readers who might be interested in a first-class delivery option should keep their eyes open for the November edition," she said. "We'll put information about that in that issue."

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02/23/2007 12:33:34 AM
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