In an Experiential-Obsessed Marketplace, Surkus Uses Tech to Stand Out

first_imgAI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. Experiences have flooded the marketplace. Whether they’re investing in pop-up stores or festivals, brands have recognized the major shift happening. The IPA Bellwether Report found that in the U.K., experiential marketing was the only area to experience significant growth in spend in 2017 besides internet marketing.Similarly, EventTrack found that American consumers gravitated toward the brands that gave them experiences to savor, with 74 percent reporting they were more likely to purchase from brands engaging them with experiences. In fact, 98 percent admitted they created social content when they participated in these experiences — and all of those who created content also shared content.The writing’s on the wall for companies that have paid attention. These experiences can be beneficial to brands of every type, and Surkus is determined to use technology to make experiential accessible.Abandoning the Spray-and-Pray ModelSurkus classifies three major areas as experiential: branding experiential (such as pop-ups), ticketed experiences (such as concerts or festivals), and immersive experiences (such as VR). In working with brands that launch experiences in every category, Surkus focuses on making the strongest matches it can between its members and its clients.It does that through technology. The brand’s platform uses an algorithm to identify the right audience members for each experience being offered. By curating a group that’s expressed interest in a certain subject or a similar brand, Surkus pinpoints the members who will feel excited about the opportunity.That translates to a win for Surkus’ client companies. Surkus’ focus on targeting the right audience makes both attendance and engagement possible. Clients can ask for a variety of engagements — social content, surveys, market research — with Surkus enabling communication between clients and members throughout every point of a campaign.“We don’t need to complicate things, but simplify them,” explains Stephen George, Surkus’ CEO. “We want to make sure the right audience is attending and engaging, and we know the little things are our clients’ entire objective in working with us. It doesn’t have to be complex.”Capitalizing on What They’ve GotSurkus’ knowledge of where members are at every touchpoint is valuable: By tracking members’ locations and activity, the platform can nudge them and offer reminders. The platform, designed for Instagram posts, can point out that a member, still at an event, just took 50 photos and should post one of them. If the member exited the venue, the client can ask questions to get real-time feedback on how the installation or product played in front of its audience.“It’s important to be able to time our interactions and engagements correctly,” George says. “In the moment, members shouldn’t be interrupted so they can absorb the experience. But there hasn’t been an easy way to transfer instantaneous reactions. Brands don’t want to target people when they walk in or when they’re in the middle of a performance — they’re not going to get very good information.”But good information is there for the taking. George points to concerts as an example: If a concert producer spent the majority of his budget on the closing act and the grand finale fireworks, but 40 percent of concertgoers left two hours before the encore, Surkus can provide that data to the producer so he can reconsider where he’s spending his money. While Surkus’ goal with members is to provide them with compelling experiences, the brand’s focus for clients is driving long-term value.“If brands have already planned out the production of their events and are wasting money at certain times, we need to be able to tell them,” George explains. “They may be able to restructure the production to use the same layout of money but increase engagement. And the longer we can keep people engaged, the more ancillary revenue that drives — but there’s also a better experience because there’s no lag in the event itself.”Bringing Experiential to the MassesTechnology has made things more affordable, particularly through automation. Surkus itself thrives on this fact: While a PR agency helping with experiential activations can handle 20 clients at one time, Surkus can work with 10,000. “Bodies just aren’t as efficient as our algorithm,” George says.This sheer volume helps every activation under Surkus’ umbrella — as its base grows, so does its data collection. This enables Surkus to give first-timers a head start by giving them insight into what’s worked well for similar types of events or which types of audience members responded best. But, as George says, that data becomes more meaningful as clients repeatedly work with Surkus to launch experiences; the brand can provide continuous data on who engaged or took actions so constant tweaks can occur.The affordability and ease created by technology hasn’t completely trickled down, and George says that’s created a misconception that lingers among small brands. “There’s a perception that events have to be grandiose, multimillion-dollar affairs that only global brands can afford,” he says. “It can be a small mom-and-pop retailer with a pop-up event, and that can be just as enticing as Under Armour launching a $1 million activation at its store. The point is targeting the people who will respond.”Brands from small businesses to international conglomerates should be fitting experiential into their budgets, regardless of the size. While attention is paid to experiences offered by Netflix, Anheuser-Busch, or LiveNation, anyone can do it, George points out, and platforms like Surkus enable the same types of results for brands of every size.Smaller brands that refuse to invest in experiential, in fact, will run into a universal problem: ad blockers and other tools that allow consumers to bypass marketing. With people skipping commercials regularly and billboards simply not having the reach they should for their cost, experiential has become a more affordable way to stick in consumers’ minds. Surkus’ platform offers a la carte services, allowing clients to determine what’s most important in terms of engagement and what fits within their budget. Getting one attendee to walk through the door at an event can cost as little as $3. After an era of spray-and-pray advertising, with money sprinkled everywhere, experiential can result in reverse sticker shock.What’s NextBringing experiential to the masses also means expanding markets, and that’s next on Surkus’ agenda. George, the former co-founder and head of operations for Groupon, says the Los Angeles-based business launched in Boston last month and is “relaunching” in San Francisco in October.“A lot of our markets in the past grew organically, but now we’re announcing launches in targeted areas — we’re highly dedicated to these new markets,” George says. The brand also has an eye on global growth and serving its clients in any market they’re operating in; beyond its office in Hong Kong, Surkus plans to expand to Singapore in the next few months.That reinforces the company’s belief that experiential isn’t necessarily what people think it is — and it’s not outside anyone’s reach. By incorporating technology to make experiential activations more affordable and accessible, Surkus just may have found a way to bring personalized experiences to the masses. Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite Tags:#branding#customer experience#CX#event marketing#experiential marketing#festival#marketing#pop-up shop How Data Analytics Can Save Lives AI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… Related Posts last_img read more

Heat claims a life in Gujarat

first_imgWith mercury hovering above 43 degree C in most of Gujarat, the State is witnessing intense heat wave conditions that have claimed one life and affected hundreds in Ahmedabad and other towns.One person died of heatstroke in Ahmedabad city on Monday while 518 cases of heatstroke, dehydration, fluctuations in blood pressure, anxiety were reported in hospitals across the State.Multiple complaintsAccording to the State emergency services, 2,368 persons have been affected by the excessive heat conditions since the beginning of May in Ahmedabad alone. “People are coming in to complain of dehydration, stroke, vomiting, chest and stomach pain and nose and ear bleeding,” a senior staff member for the emergency medical centre told The Hindu.“We are witnessing intense heat wave conditions with dry weather across the State, except for a few places in south Gujarat. Hundreds of patients are pouring in with heat-related illnesses,” a senior doctor of Ahmedabad civil hospital said.Another senior doctor from the city said the bulk of the patients were senior citizens, children and daily wage earners who were exposed to sun due to their work requirements.Orange alertThe Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has issued an orange alert as part of its heat action plan that has been prepared and implemented with the help of experts from the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gandhinagar.“We have alerted the citizens to take precautions, minimise exposure to sun between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and remain hydrated during the day,” a senior official of the civic body said. “As per the met department’s prediction, heat wave conditions will continue for another week in the State,” he said.Meanwhile, a sudden change in the wind pattern on Tuesday brought in humidity. “Owing to change in wind direction, the relative humidity has become quite high in the State. In coastal areas, it is around 70-80% while in inland parts, it was 70%,” said Jayanta Sarkar, senior meteorologist of Met office in Ahmedabad.last_img read more

Gays parade their pride in Delhi’s heart

first_imgTheir faces were unmasked.And the pride was stronger than ever.The third edition of the gay pride parade – the first after consensual homosexual relationships were decriminalised in the country – in the Capital on Sunday was an unusual display of confidence by the lesbian-gaybisexual-transgender (LGTB) community.Clad in rainbow colours and dancing to the sound of drums, the gathering marched from Barakhamba Road to Jantar Mantar in Central Delhi with a different inclination.This time, they were celebrating their sexuality as against the previous years when they marched to assert their rights and protest against the criminalisation of samesex relationship.In July, last year, the Delhi High Court passed a landmark judgment revoking the controversial Section 377 of the Indian penal code that criminalised same-sex relationship.”I do not know or care about how social acceptance has changed after the high court verdict. But yes, I have changed. I feel more confident and I know that I am not doing anything wrong since the law of the land does not have a problem with it,” said Pooja (18), a student who wished to be identified just by her first name.”The judgment was a clarion call and asserted what we have been fighting for years now. But, I am a little disappointed by the turnout at the parade. I expected more to turn up to celebrate the anniversary,” said Vineet Trikha (30), a communication trainee who was there at the parade.The strongest evidence of the (slow but sure) change in the attitude of society towards the LGTB community was the presence of family members at the parade.advertisementWhile some made a proud proclamation of their support to their homosexual members of the family, others chose to stay on the sidelines and do the same tacitly.”My grandson is gay and he has the right to live his life the way he wants. I am an educated woman and I absolutely have no problem with it,” said Rani Sharma (65), who accompanied her grandson Sambhav Kumar Sharma to the parade and sported a placard making proud proclamation of his sexuality.”There was an initial shock. But he is a good boy and we have eventually come to accept this. Though our relatives still don’t know, I am here to support my child and his participation in the parade. I wasn’t here last year and I’ve come at my wife’s behest,” said a 45-year-old father on condition of anonymity.last_img read more

Spain honours visit of Chinas Xi inks business deals

first_imgMADRID — Spain has rolled out the red carpet for visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is seeking global allies amid souring trade clashes with Washington.Xi and King Felipe VI have reviewed Spain’s guard of honour at the Royal Palace in the Spanish capital while Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan and Spanish Queen Letizia observed the ceremony from a podium.Xi is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez later Wednesday and both will preside over the signing of around 20 government and business agreements, including a deal to export on-the-bone legs of Iberian ham to the Chinese market.The Chinese leader follows his two-day visit to Spain by flying to Argentina on Thursday for a G-20 leaders’ summit the next day, and visits to Panama and Portugal until Dec. 5.The Associated Presslast_img read more

USA scraps Iran oil sanction waivers on India, 7 others

first_imgWashington DC: In a move that could have implications on India’s energy security, US President Donald Trump on Monday decided not to grant sanctions exemptions to any oil customers of Iran, further squeezing Tehran’s top export commodity. “President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May. This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe US re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, after President Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The US’ move which is seen as an escalation of President Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” on Iran comes after it last year gave temporary 180-days waiver to eight countries, including India, China, Turkey and Japan among others. As a result of this decision all countries including India would have to bring down its import of oil from Iran by May 2. Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have already heavily reduced their oil imports from Iran. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIran is India’s third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of 2017-18 fiscal). The US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the world’s great energy producers, along with its friends and allies, are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied, Sanders said. “We have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market,” she said. In a statement, Sanders said the Trump Administration and its allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilising activity threatening the United States, its partners and allies, and security in the Middle East. “The President’s decision to eliminate all SREs follows the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, demonstrating the US’ commitment to disrupting Iran’s terror network and changing the regime’s malign behaviour. We welcome the support of our friends and allies for this effort,” Sanders said. China and India are currently the largest importers of Iranian oil. If they don’t go along with Trump’s demands, that could cause tensions in both bilateral relationships and spill over into other issues, like trade, the Washington Post reported.last_img read more

Mehbooba leads protest march against suspension of LoC trade

first_imgSrinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday led a protest march of her party activists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district against the suspension of cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade and ban on Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). The protest march was taken out from Town Hall Pulwama to deputy commissioner’s office. Mehbooba demanded the revocation of the decision to suspend the cross-LoC trade and sought immediate release of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik from custody. She also sought revocation of ban on JeI and an end to the ban on civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. Malik is not in good health. I want to tell the Government of India that if God forbid, his health worsens, then the situation here will deteriorate further which will be very difficult to control. Our fight is against militants, but you should not harass their families, she told reporters.last_img read more

Samsung still has time to correct its foldable dream

first_imgNew Delhi: Just when the industry through innovation in the smartphone business had hit stagnation, Samsung wowed us with its first foldable device “Galaxy Fold,” worth a whopping $2,000. A super-premium phone that took almost a decade in the making and opens like a book when unfolded, shouted everything next-generation. However, the expectations took a beating when reports of the Galaxy Fold issues surfaced. The units given to international tech reviewers encountered display distortion and screen flickering issues, forcing the South Korean giant to postpone its launch in Hong Kong and Shanghai on April 23 and 24 respectively, and issue a recall of review units. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year The big question lingers: Will the “Foldgate” make a dent in Samsung’s image like the Galaxy Note 7 with exploding batteries did in 2016? According to CyberMedia Research (CMR), the smartphone major has been mature and pragmatic enough by postponing its launch and sorting out all the issues before its general availiability. “All said, for Samsung, there is no race for first past the post with its foldable smartphone. It is more imperative for the company to focus on not delivering a flawed product, but rather ensuring highest consumer experience when the device goes on sales,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India Defending its devices just days before its roll-out, a Samsung spokesperson assured that the firm would “thoroughly inspect” the units. According to market research firm Gartner, foldable phones would make up 5 per cent of high-end phones sales by 2023 with around 30 million units. According to Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Principal Analyst of market research firm techARC, from a technology-rich company like Samsung, “one would expect things out only after reliability of desired levels are achieved”. The Galaxy Fold is expected to be priced around Rs 1,40,790 in India. “Nevertheless, the lab and real-world conditions play differently. I don’t see it as a big issue as the product has not exchanged hands with consumers yet. They have time to correct this aberration,” Kawoosa told IANS. Some units of the Galaxy Fold, which became the first phone with a foldable OLED display, is encountering two primary issues: the foldable screen seems to have a layer of protective layer that is similar to a cheap screen film. Several units reportedly failed after the layer was taken off. Few other screens failed because the hinge exposed areas which allowed debris to get inside of the display, thus, damaging the unit. “We expect that users will use a foldable phone as they do their regular smartphone, picking it up hundreds of times a day, unfolding it sporadically and typing on its plastic screen, which may scratch quickly depending on the way it folds,” Roberta Cozza, Research Director at Gartner had earlier said. However, according to market research firm techARC, this is primarily a material issue than a design. “I think till the time it’s a plastic-based screen, the chances of such mishaps remain high. I would certainly like to see a glass display, that too from credible makers like Corning, to have a reliable foldable screen,” stressed Kawoosa. Moreover, there’s no denying that the second-generation of foldable devices would be better that the experimental and ambitious first generation iterations. “The first generation of an innovation is always experimental, and which over successive iterations achieves perfection. Let’s’face it. The Galaxy Fold was just a mistake in timing. It does not take away anything from its manufacturing capabilities,” Ram noted.last_img read more

Pitroda’s comments expose Cong’s mindset, Modi govt punished anti-Sikh riots accused: Amit Shah

first_imgNew Delhi: BJP president Amit Shah has slammed the Congress over its leader Sam Pitroda’s “so what” remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying they have “exposed” its mindset and asserted it is under the Narendra Modi government that culprits were punished and families of victims compensated. “Thousands of Sikhs were killed mercilessly. The then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi justified it. No one was punished. Manmohan Singh was made (by the Congress) to apologise. What Sam Pitroda has said exposes the Congress’ mindset,” he told PTI. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework On Thursday, Pitroda, had dismissed questions about 1984 riots, saying “hua to hua” (so what), triggering a political furore that led to Congress president Rahul Gandhi denouncing his comments followed by an apology from him on Friday. Shah spoke to PTI before Pitroda tendered the apology. The BJP president said several Congress governments at the Centre did little to go after those behind the communal violence and added that they were punished by the Modi government. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen The riots, which had left thousands of Sikhs dead, remain an emotive issue, especially in Delhi, which was the worst affected city, and Punjab, where the community live in very large numbers. The BJP has sought to corner the Congress over the carnage, as both Delhi and Punjab head for the Lok Sabha polls. Elections in the national capital will take place on Sunday and in Punjab on May 19. To a question about the BJP’s controversial decision to field Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal, Shah strongly defended the decision. He said she may be still an accused but the conspiracy she has been charged with has already been rejected by courts in other cases of terror in which right wing Hindutva elements were blamed. Accusing the Congress of manufacturing “fake Hindu terror” cases to defame Hindus for its “vote bank” politics, Shah said courts have already rejected the theory and the BJP’s decision to field Thakur was the saffron party’s “satyagrah” against the opposition party. Thakur has been pitted against veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh. Targeting the Congress, Shah said people – allegedly linked to terrorist outfit LeT- arrested in Samjhauta train blast case were released by the UPA government and compensated as well, after investigators later claimed that Hindutva elements were behind the terror. A court, however, acquitted all accused, including Hindutva activist Swami Aseemanand. Shah expressed confidence that the BJP will win more than 282 seats it had won in 2014, saying its number of seats and victory margins will increase with the party set to do well in regions where it had been traditionally weak.last_img read more

Rethinking The NFLs Rooney Rule For More Diversity At The Top

As word spread quickly in January 2007 that Mike Tomlin would be the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, no one needed to explain the significance of the move to Steve Jackson. Then a safeties coach with the Washington Redskins, Jackson was among the many African-American assistants rooting for Tomlin to get the job. Just a few years earlier, Tomlin, who had just completed his first season as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator, probably wouldn’t have been on the short list for one of the most prestigious coaching gigs in professional sports. But under the Rooney Rule, times were changing.“For me, that’s the one that really stood out,” said Jackson, now the Tennessee Titans’ assistant secondary coach. “It was the Steelers. That’s one of those jobs that everyone looks at. And he wasn’t the leading candidate when he walked in for the interview, but he got in that room and he made his case. That’s what we all want: just to have a real chance to compete for the job. A lot of us [black coaches] looked at that and said, ‘Yeah.’”There’s no debating that the Rooney Rule has had a positive impact on the NFL. By providing owners with the first leaguewide tool to make hiring potentially more inclusive, the NFL took a significant step toward changing its culture. The rule continues to be expanded, and major corporations have followed the league’s lead. But in a workplace in which the overwhelming majority of players are African-American, the NFL has many more opportunities to strengthen the rule and further increase diversity in its management ranks.In place since 2003 for head coaches and expanded in 2009 to include general manager jobs and equivalent front-office positions, the rule — named after Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh Steelers chairman and onetime head of the league’s diversity committee — mandates that an NFL team must interview at least one minority candidate for these jobs. The rule, however, has two fatal flaws: the temptation to substitute sham interviews in place of a search for real diversity, and coordinator-level positions, a crucial step to head-coaching jobs, are not under the umbrella.The NFL did recently expand the rule again to include women: For all executive openings in the commissioner’s office, a woman must be interviewed. The San Francisco 49ers were the first team to formally adopt the practice, but the same flaws still apply.But the league did provide a blueprint for corporate America to improve its poor hiring record when it comes to diversity. Facebook, Pinterest, Intel, Xerox and Amazon are among the major companies that have instituted their own version of the rule. Even the Pentagon has explored using some form of the rule to diversify its officer corps.“The Rooney Rule really has become the best practice for diversity and inclusion,” said Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer. “The Rooney Rule is all about access and opportunity, and it’s exciting to see where we are now after having the Rooney Rule in place for 12 years when you look at what the Rooney Rule has delivered.”In the 12 seasons before the rule was instituted, the NFL had only six non-white head coaches. In 12 seasons under the rule, the league has added 14 head coaches of color. From the NFL’s standpoint, there were other encouraging numbers last season regarding diversity. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida found that:At the start of last season, there were six head coaches of color, one more than in 2014. In 2011, the NFL had an all-time high of eight head coaches of color.There were seven African-American general managers in 2015 and for the ninth consecutive year, there were at least five general managers of color.Eight of the last 18 Super Bowl teams have had either an African-American head coach or general manager.Clearly, minorities have made modest strides in filling leadership positions. The problem is, there are 32 NFL teams. Even at its highest point, minority representation among coaches was a meager 25 percent. Almost 68 percent of the NFL’s players are African-American, but there are no African-American team presidents, and only one team president of color. Although the NFL received an A grade for overall racial-hiring practices from Central Florida, only 19.4 percent of the league’s professional positions — front-office and business-operations personnel — were filled by “people of color” in 2015. The numbers tell the story: There’s still plenty of work to do.Jeremi Duru wrote the book on the Rooney Rule. Literally. In Advancing The Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL, Duru masterfully details the history of the process that resulted in the rule. Duru, a law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, agrees that the rule is not perfect, but “the whole idea of it is to prompt kind of a culture change in the league,” he said. “It’s not that the outcome of each particular interviewing season is going to vindicate the rule, but rather that the rule will put in place the sense that, in order to be the best, you have to think broadly. It’s the idea that in order to succeed and be competitive, you have to look at a deep pool of candidates.”One of the biggest criticisms of the rule is that it hasn’t effected change fast enough. For the rule to have been in place so long, some African-American commentators have argued, the NFL should have many more minorities in the highest-ranking positions. “It’s extremely difficult to eradicate a long-standing problem quickly,” Duru said. “The Emancipation Proclamation itself isn’t going to be a panacea. But it creates a culture where there’s no longer lawful slavery, and where we start to see progress, slowly but surely.“In the end in the NFL, hopefully, the idea is that it really becomes clear that the best coaches come from all sorts of different places. And if you think broadly about coaching and you slow down and take time with your hire, you’re going to find yourself with the best outcome. It’s not a consequence of the rule itself, but of the culture that the rule has ushered in.”Unfortunately for the NFL, the public perception is that sham interviews are integral to the league’s culture. Invariably each season, rumors have swirled that some teams interviewed African-American candidates only to comply with the rule. In January, the timing and execution of the Philadelphia Eagles’ hiring of new coach Doug Pederson raised questions about whether they had violated the spirit of the rule. The Eagles interviewed Duce Staley, a former Philadelphia player and current assistant coach on the team. Staley had never been a coordinator and only served as a position coach for three seasons. To many league observers, it appeared the Eagles had skirted the rule by interviewing an in-house candidate who obviously lacked the experience to be a head coach.That’s where the Fritz Pollard Alliance comes in. Together with the league’s front office, they determine whether a team’s interview process is legitimate. In the first year of the rule, commissioner Roger Goodell’s predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, fined former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen $200,000 for “failing to discharge his duties” under the rule.Although the specter of fines should serve as a deterrent to teams violating the rule, there’s another step the league could take to ensure compliance besides the removal of draft picks: require teams to provide transcripts of interviews with minority candidates. That way, the Fritz Pollard Alliance and the commissioner’s office could judge for themselves whether teams adhered to the spirit of the rule.“The Rooney Rule requires that there be a meaningful interview of a person of color, not just an interview,” Duru said. “Any mechanism that can be used to ensure an interview that is meaningful should be on the table.”However, among NFL decision-makers, there’s no momentum for detailed transcripts to become part of the process. “What is important is getting interview feedback,” the NFL’s Gulliver said. “We really do find that getting feedback, getting candidate feedback, on what worked and what didn’t work, and what can even be better the next time, will help candidates as they continue their quests to become a head coach or a general manager.”That being said, covering more potential candidates under the rule would seem to be a logical next step. Generally, coordinators have the most responsibility among assistant coaches. Owners often pluck coordinators from successful teams to become head coaches. If there were more minority coordinators in the pipeline, theoretically, there would be more minorities in the applicant pool for head coaching positions. The Rooney Rule does nothing to address that basic fact.In response to the NFL’s horrible hiring record after the 2012 season (eight head coaches and seven general managers were fired; 15 white guys were hired), the Fritz Pollard Alliance proposed that coordinator-level and team president positions should be covered under the rule. The NFL rejected the proposal, but in 2013 the league did restart the Career Development Symposium, which previously ran from 1998-2008.The commissioner’s office requested that teams send two representatives, including at least one person of color, who aspire to be general managers and head coaches, to a three-day program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Besides networking with decision-makers from throughout the league, participants honed their interview skills through presentations and panel discussions. (In March, the league had its first Women’s Career Development Symposium.)But remember: Last season, the league had only six head coaches of color and seven African-American general managers. Obviously, the Career Development Symposium didn’t hobble efforts to improve minority hiring — but how much did it help? It just seems that including coordinator positions under the rule could be another major turning point in the ongoing struggle to level the playing field.In ESPN The Magazine’s Feb. 8 Super Bowl 50 Issue, senior writer Mina Kimes wrote that white position coaches and assistants are more than twice as likely to be promoted to coordinator than their African-American counterparts, according to research from professors at Georgetown, George Washington, Emory and Iowa State University. Moreover, those promotions occur regardless of the white coaches’ performance, experience and coaching background. The data shouldn’t be ignored.The Titans’ Jackson is a 13-year NFL assistant. Despite his experience, Jackson knows it’s downright impossible to make the leap from an assistant coach to a head coach without first being a coordinator.“There’s always a network, an inner circle, and then there are others,” he said. “And if you’re in the others, you have to do everything you can to get in the door.”The argument against expanding the rule to include coordinator positions is that head coaches should be allowed to pick their staffs without any restrictions on interviewing. There may be something to that.During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Brian Stewart directed the Dallas Cowboys’ defense. If coordinators are covered under the rule, Stewart envisions the potential for conflict. “That would be rough,” said Stewart, now a college coach at Nebraska who works with defensive backs. “You really have to leave picking those guys [coordinators] to the head coaches. They have to be allowed to choose their own people.“That’s one of the benefits of reaching the level of head coach. And if you don’t let them interview only the guys they want to interview, it could really open up a can of worms when you talk about relationships on the staff. If guys feel like a coordinator didn’t get the job the right way, there could be a lot of resentment from all the other assistants. It could be a problem. It could be a big problem.”Of course, there’s often resistance to change. When the rule was instituted, many within the league suggested head coaches wouldn’t have credibility if they were hired as a result of the process. But who would argue that great coaches such as Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, Tomlin and Carolina Panthers’ Ron Rivera lack credibility? The Steelers’ pick of Tomlin worked out spectacularly.The Rooney Rule is still evolving and growing pains are part of the process. But with the NFL on the right track, it’s definitely not time to slow down. Editor’s note: Tuesday was opening day at The Undefeated, a new ESPN website that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. In an introductory letter, Kevin Merida, its editor-in-chief, says the site won’t shrink from covering challenging subjects with a mix of original reporting, innovative storytelling, provocative commentary, must-see video, narratives and investigations. At FiveThirtyEight, we’re so excited at having a new sibling that we’ve been running several of The Undefeated’s articles on our site this week — including the one that follows here — and we have big plans for partnerships in the future. More stories from The Undefeated:Serena: The embodiment of it all by LZ GrandersonDon’t believe the fairy-tale mythology that sports promote by Domonique FoxworthWill my 2-year-old nephew end up like Michael Brown? by Wendi Thomas read more

Jabari Parker Named Prep Hoops Player of the Year

Jabari Parker, the Chicago high school player of Mormon faith who selected Duke over a plethora of colleges, was named the Morgan Wootten Male Player of the Year during a news conference Monday at the Ronald McDonald House.“It’s a big-time (honor),” Parker said of the award. “I always dreamed about being amongst the ranks of especially Chicago players, but now I can say nationwide. Hopefully, I can take this and give myself a little bit motivation.”Parker, whom ESPN ranks as the No. 2 senior in the country, helped guide Simeon Career Academy to its fourth consecutive Illinois state championship in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday. He had 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and eight rebounds in the Wolverines’ state title victory. He also had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 15 rebounds in the team’s semifinal win.Parker averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds during his senior year after battling a foot injury early in the season. He averaged 21.7 points during the team’s seven playoff victories.The Wootten award is named after the former DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, Md.) coaching legend and given to the McDonald’s All-American who demonstrates outstanding character, exhibits leadership and exemplifies the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and the community. McDonald’s established the award in Wootten’s name to pay tribute to his achievements as a teacher and coach.Taya Reimer, a guard/forward and Notre Dame recruit from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., won the girls’ Wootten award.Parker, a 6-foot-9 small forward, was among six finalists for the award. The other finalists included Archbishop Mitty power forward Aaron Gordon (uncommitted), William B. Travis guards Aaron Harrison (Kentucky) and Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Montverde Academy center  Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) and Huntington Prep forward Andrew Wiggins (uncommitted). All six players are ranked among the top 11 players in ESPN’s Class of 2013 rankings.Parker committed to Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford on Dec. 20.As a junior, Parker was named the Team USA basketball 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, the Gatorade national player of the year and Illinois’ Mr. Basketball.Parker will be presented with the Wootten award on April 2 during the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities and will play in the April 3 McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago. The game will be televised on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. CST. read more