One of the few things that most people agree that TNA has in its favor is the way the company as a whole interacts with fans, particularly at live house shows.

They pride themselves on their use of technology, with representation on Twitter, MySpace, YouTube (particularly the “TNA Today” series), and Facebook, web matches, a TNA “search and win” search engine, the new Video Vault service, “Hermie’s Hotseat,” “Spin Cycle,” and the recent “TNAtion,” featuring SoCal Val, Consequences Creed, and Alex Iz. That sounds like quite a lot of stuff, and the very fact that TNA tries so many technological avenues of reaching fans shows that, in some sense, they know where and how to find people who might have interest in their product. That being said, the website needs some serious work in several areas, which leads to the next point.

One of the many things that most people agree that TNA does not do well is self-promotion. I’ve lost count of the number of comments on message boards that involve people talking about a TNA show that came through about which they knew nothing, or complained of small crowds at said shows. Sure, some people are thicker than Big Show’s waistline and couldn’t be counted on to sit the right way on a toilet seat, but those people are not the majority of wrestling fans. Not really. Expecting the tv network that airs your weekly show or ground teams of fans to do your promotion for you is laughable, and that seems to be the case on more than one occasion. With some basic retooling, TNA could tranform its website from the current state of mere adequacy to a major PR device that might actually result in more show tickets sold and more pay-per-views purchased. I’m no web designer, but bear with me.

1. Update daily

Something, however small, can be changed on a daily basis on any site. For example, thre are still no photos from the “Slammiversary” ppv in the “Media” section of the TNA site, and we’ve already passed the ppv that followed it, and are on the next one. “News” stories, such as they are, stay the same for a week, on occasion. This step is easily accomplished, however, by properly utilizing some of the other steps listed here.  


2. Link to personal pages of wrestlers/personalities who have them

Half of the TNA roster has MySpace pages. Some also have personal websites, fan sites, networks, and so on. If TNA is the home promotion of these wrestlers, why not link such sites on the “Roster” page for that individual? This does not mean that TNA as an organization should be allowed to exercise any control over content, style, or any other aspect of such sites, and wrestlers might have good reasons for wanting to maintain their sites and pages separately from the umbrella of TNA. For those that would want to do it, however, it should be an option. This would allow such things as in-character blogs, commentary on TNA-related events, promotion of non-TNA events involving that wrestler, and other things that would increase knowledge of and emotional investment in the TNA product, without redesigning the entire TNA site to make room for them.


3. Feature a “Star of the Day/Week/Month”

This feature should include photos, at least one web match, and a variety of interview footage (either video or text), all in one place. Creating new stars doesn’t have to be done solely in the ring anymore. Make people interested in your own talent, and they’ll pay to see them. If there isn’t enough time on a two-hour weekly tv program to acquaint fans with homegrown talent and “get them over,” then try alternative means. Hell, let the wrestlers make their own videos and post them on the site for this purpose, there could be some goldmines out there! Colt Cabana, anyone? If the self-made “YouTube celebrities” can do it, a proper company certainly should be able to do it. 


4. Make each of the web shows a more regular feature, with new episodes added on specific days

If everyone knew that the latest edition of “TNAtion” came out every Saturday morning, or that a new “Spin Cycle” would be posted every other Tuesday, they’d be more likely to check it out. Decide on a definite schedule for all these web programs, and stick to it. “Spin Cycle” was great fun, and “TNA Today” used to be really good too, but new episodes are irregular at best, and not as heavily promoted as they could be. The content of said programs needs a bit of tinkering, by the way. Next step.


5. Less arguing between SoCal Val and Consequences Creed

I ran a broadcasting studio for two years, and what I’ve seen from Val and Creed so far would never have made it on the air in my classes. Charisma, energy, and enthusiasm are all there, which is good. Val and Creed are both very comfortable in front of the camera, but they come off as a couple kids playing around with a camera after watching an SNL skit. The bickering is excessive and far too forced, to the point that more focus is given to that than to any of the material covered. It’s one thing to keep the face/heel announcer dynamic going under these conditions, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is the trying too hard to be funny and failing, the focus on on the previous relationship between Val and Jay Lethal to the detriment of the actual story presented, the insistence on getting the last word every time from both Val and Creed, and the lack of substance in most of what they talk about. They talk over each other constantly, and comments like referring to Val as “SoCal Suck” is really not appropriate for a news show. The attempts at sexual banter don’t come off as edgy or funny, more like two junior high kids trying to insult one another. Give them some significant points to make and let them go, keeping the friction between them understated until it becomes appropriate to use it.    


6. On-camera training for Alex Iz

Alex Iz seems like a nice guy. He also seems completely uncomfortable in front of the camera. For someone who talks as much as he does, he says very little. Two things in particular need to be addressed at once. Firstly, the bulk of Iz’s on-air time has been spent showing the audience footage of a computer monitor with a TNA-related site pulled up. No matter how big we make the screen size, WE CAN’T SEE ANYTHING! Either connect to the computer and show the footage directly, or find another way to put the show together. Just holding a video camera in front of a computer monitor does not cut it. Secondly, every episode of “TNAtion” thus far has involved repeated use of the phrase, “Let’s go ahead and….” Resorting to fillers and comfort phrases is a common symptom of stage fright, and makes it look like Iz doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be talking about. I don’t want to be too hard on Alex Iz, because he isn’t all bad as a broadcast host, but his performance is part of the reason that this show comes off as so haphazard and amateurish. Jeremy Borash is far and away the best broadcaster-type that TNA has, and if he hasn’t been able to work with Alex Iz, he needs to. Iz seemed better on the latest episode, but consistency is key. 


7. On-camera training for Hermie Sadler

Hermie Sadler is one of the worst interviewers ever to be given his own show. Like Alex Iz, he seems very ill at ease in front of the camera. He talks more than the interview subjects at times, and asks the most inane questions that have been asked a hundred times before. He could at least freshen up how he phrases his questions, as he’s more of an insider than the average interviewer of wrestling. He doesn’t seem to handle going “off-book” very well, in that when an interviewee says something funny or unexpected, he reacts awkwardly and sticks to the script in his head no matter what. The show should be about the person being interviewed, not him. This show is a good idea, but Hermie Sadler is not the man to host it. 


8. Feature upcoming live events more prominantly

Sure, there’s a section for upcoming live events, and it isn’t that bad. However, it could be reorganized and supplemented with video footage from the previous few house shows. A sidebar for upcoming events would be more prominant and easier to use. Push the matches that will take place at each show, for heaven’s sake! If the upcoming live events are truly presented as must-see, fans will attend them. 


9. Promote matches/doings of TNA wrestlers outside of TNA, and for longer periods of time

Cross-promotion ties in with creating new stars. If one of your people is involved in something else, publicize the hell out of it. Matches in independent and foreign companies, for example. If TNA doesn’t mind their wrestlers taking these bookings and being billed as “TNA Stars,” they shouldn’t mind advertising the fact that THEIR guys are going to be there. PWG shows in California. IWGP shows in Japan. Did anyone else know that the Motor City Machine Guns defended their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles over the 4th of July weekend in Japan, and lost them? Doubtful. Almost no attention was given to their winning of those titles in the first place. Team 3D gets some attention when they go to Japan, but even that isn’t as much as it could be. This goes beyond wrestling. Appearing on episodes of “Made” on MTV. Guest spots in movies or tv shows. Appearances at other sporting events. Appearances at the San Diego Comic Con. Posing for Playboy magazine. Whatever your people do, publicize it like mad! Don’t look at it as giving free publicity to another organization. Look at it as getting your money’s worth out of the people that YOU hired, who are now of interest in other places, and can generate more fans and profits for YOU.


10. Stop BSing us with the posts/e-mails that get read out loud on shows like “TNAtion”

The posts and comments that Alex Iz has read out loud on each episode of “TNAtion” are so laughably kissing-up that it hurts to listen. It’s truly embarrassing. Some people probably tune out at this point. I did. It may be true that someone in no way associated with TNA posted them. It doesn’t come across that way. Each one is worded similarly, gushing with effusive praise for how awesome TNA is in regard to how good it feels to be a part of the TNAtion and be listened to by a wrestling company, what a great alternative TNA is to WWE (not mentioned by name), and how eager the poster is to promote TNA. One episode actually showed a “poster” hanging a flyer for a TNA show in a store. There’s a line between grassroots movement and bush league. This was the latter. I personally don’t believe that all of these posts and comments are legit. Perhaps I am mistaken. If they are, Alex Iz and his handlers should consider what they sound like before reading them. By no means should they be obligated to read criticisms and hateful rants on the air, but the compliments shouldn’t sound like the same person wrote them all.


11. More material and greater depth

Most of the “news” items on the TNA site aren’t news at all, and are approached on a very superficial level. Fans want more. Any excuse can be made to interview someone, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be storyline-related. The interview clips in “TNAtion” are a good idea, but far too short. Usually only three wrestlers or so are included, and they have a few seconds each. Expand upon that. If the whole clip is between nine and sixteen minutes, there’s time enough for SOMETHING. Take what the wrestling news sites do and make it your own. Report your own news on your own people, at least to the point that it’s appropriate. For example, AJ Styles has pulled out of the house shows for which he was advertised due to a staph infection in his hip. People who go to wrestling sites know this. People who attended the house shows where he was advertised to perform know this. He was not beaten down by the Main Event Mafia, or any other on-screen thing that would be spoiled by announcing his injury. If things are going to be reported anyway, report them yourself and exert at least a little bit of control over the story. Exclusives bring people back.
Granted, following all of these suggestions does not guarantee an explosion in ticket sales, tv ratings, or ppv buyrates, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. These things take time and effort, but the return on investment could be quite high. I’d particularly like to hear comments from web and graphic designers who have seen the TNA site.

Your thoughts?

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