By Malcolm Doak
There is no place on earth quite like Philadelphia, PA. Founded in 1682, the birthplace of American democracy remains steeped in history. Tourists can visit Independence Hall, see the Liberty Bell and stop at the Betsy Ross house. But Philadelphia is also a vibrant, modern city – the sixth largest in America – and one of only a dozen U.S. cities home to teams in all four major sports. After seeing one of the many statues of Ben Franklin, guests can travel to the Museum of Art and say “Hi” to Rocky Balboa, pack in some pretzels and grab a cheesesteak at Pat’s or Geno’s on their way out of town on the Sure-Kill expressway. But in the City of Brotherly Love, the locals know there is nothing more satisfying than treating yourself to a nice cool water ice. That’s something akin to Italian Ice to most of us, but in the local dialect, it’s simply “Wooder Ice.”
“Your Scoop to Everything Philly”
Aside from the city’s favorite treat, there is another Wooder Ice beating in the heart of Philadelphia – available online at wooderice.com. This Wooder Ice is, in their own words, a “Blogazine that provides original, unique, and engaging content … intended to entertain, educate, inform, and inspire the people of Philadelphia.” Founder Hector Nuñez came up with the original concept for Wooder Ice while still a student at Temple University. A few years back, he began to make his vision a reality, and Wooder Ice has been growing ever since. Taking a look at their website, it is easy to see why. In addition to checking out upcoming events and top Philly foods, viewers can also get the “Scoop” on the latest trends in Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sports, Travel, Fashion, Music, Local Happenings and the all-important Scoop of the Week. The tone of Wooder Ice is inclusive, not abrasive. Wooder Ice is instead a celebration of community. Founder Hector Nuñez stated his personal goal, “I want Wooder Ice to be a place where folks can come to escape all the hoopla and focus on the things that they enjoy most about life.” Philadelphia is a city with a great arts scene, incredible music, dynamic sports teams and so much more. Their tagline says it all: Your Scoop to Everything Philly. And they mean it.
The Multi-Media Dimension
According to some recent statistics*, the Wooder Ice site has been attracting roughly 60,000 visits per month. What truly sets Wooder Ice ahead of the pack is the quality of their multimedia content. Unlike so many community webpages that end up being primarily an online bulletin board, Wooder Ice is busy creating, producing and promoting their multimedia content to enrich their online experience. In addition to being the voice of the community, Wooder Ice is becoming the face of the community, appearing at events with their A/V tools to conduct interviews and grab some footage that add value to their online offerings. The staff of Wooder Ice has grown to six, and each member of the team has their special focus. In addition to President and Founder Hector Nuñez, the Wooder Ice crew now includes:
- Ja-mel “Jay” Vereen
- Lauren Rei
Program Director/Lauren Rei Live Show
- Farah Stacy
- Edgardo “Nitty” Bones
- Mike Beon
- Jamyra Perry
According to Nuñez, Wooder Ice strives to provide exclusive content for their followers; content that delivers a different type of in-depth coverage of events and artists. They will take the time to have a more personal conversation, as opposed to the usual quick Q & A session, and to ask the questions that aren’t normally asked. There is the business side to consider as well, and Wooder Ice is a business. They know that having exclusive content – especially for up-and-coming artists – will benefit Wooder Ice in organic SEO searches and YouTube searches, etc. The company looks for opportunities to capitalize on “owning” keywords associated with popular places or talent. Nearly everything that appears on Wooder Ice is part of a long-term strategy that will produce benefits down the road.
Partnerships, promotional activities, and multimedia content are key for Wooder Ice to continue their progress. Despite its growth, Wooder Ice remains nimble, and is able to quickly respond with marketing solutions for their community partners. Their exclusive content, Facebook page, and other social media inroads have allowed community events such as the first ever Cheesesteak Festival, The Hair O’ The Dog event at the Fillmore, and The Philadelphia Beard Festival to benefit from teaming up with Wooder Ice to increase awareness, attendance and ticket sales. From the Wooder Ice perspective, building these relationships is part of the business, but it is born out of their sense of community. “We genuinely respect artists/venues and show our support by going to their shows and reposting events even when we don’t see an immediate benefit,” according to Nuñez. But for Wooder Ice, it demonstrates that they truly care, and that in itself can be a payoff for Wooder Ice later on, should they need access to a venue or an artist to create their exclusive content. “At the end of the day everything is a business. We create a value. People and venues recognize that we have a following and that we are a credible source for events and lifestyle news,” Nuñez added.
Breaking out of the Box
For Wooder Ice, boosting their brand and building the community has to come from expanding beyond the personal computer screen and out from the hand-held device. To provide additional outlets and to increase the viewership of their premium content, Wooder Ice has formed a partnership with the Newsstand Association of Philadelphia. NAP operates all of the newsstands in the city, and nearly 60 of them are equipped with 26″ video monitors. Wooder Ice has an exclusive partnership to provide content for these newsstand monitors. For Wooder Ice, this arrangement provides a huge opportunity to increase their brand awareness with the community. In turn, Wooder Ice can use the guaranteed broadcast of their content through these screens as a bargaining chip for gaining access to higher level events or personalities to increase the value of their content in an upward spiral. In addition, Wooder Ice has recently started working with Radio One’s Boom 103.9 (BoomPhilly) to deliver additional videos and online content.
In the field, capturing the video content for Wooder Ice falls to a Canon MKIII camera fitted with a 35mm 1.4L Lens. This pairing creates vibrant, full-frame images that translate well onto mobile/handheld devices, as well as to larger screens. As Nuñez explains, “it’s perfect for interviews and the close, tight shots which we are normally shooting. We rarely do long range shots.” Capturing the sound is where Samson comes in. The Wooder Ice crew rely on the Concert 88 Camera Combo UHF Wireless System. The CR88V receiver quickly connects to the hot-shoe* mount atop their Canon MKIII. The system provides a line-of-sight operating range of 300 feet, allowing the talent to move about freely as a segment is being filmed. The Concert 88 Camera Combo includes two microphone/transmitter packages. First is the hand-held mic using Samson Q8 capsule; second is the LM10 Lavalier microphone. Wooder Ice swears by their Samson Concert 88 wireless system. “This CR88V wireless receiver and the Q8 hand-held microphone is my go-to system for interviews,” claims Hector Nuñez, “we even made mic flags that include both the Wooder Ice logo and the Samson logo on opposite sides.” For other segments, the Lavalier mic is the better choice, especially if the talent is on the move, or needs to have both hands free. In the past, Wooder Ice has recorded segments that involve the talent participating all sorts of activities from glass-blowing and beer-brewing to playing miniature golf and chowing down on the finest in Philly cuisine. “Plus,” Nuñez adds, “the lavalier does a pretty good job of picking up anyone the on-camera talent may be talking to or interacting with.” Recently, the Wooder Ice team expanded their audio arsenal to include the Samson Go Mic Mobile, the world’s first professional wireless system for smartphones. The system’s LM8 omnidirectional lavalier with beltpack provides discreet, hands-free operation, allowing high levels of interaction and a more professional appearance. Back in the office, Hector Nuñez edits and produces all of the video segments using Final Cut Pro X, but is anxious to test out Premier. His goal is to master both.
The Road Ahead
So what’s next for Wooder Ice? Founder and President Hector Nuñez answers without hesitation, “growing and expanding the team.” The challenge is finding team members who truly believe in the brand, and that share the Wooder Ice vision and appreciation of the Philadelphia community. Too often, according to Nuñez, people may be passionate about a single event or a particular artist, but the lack the follow-thru to really carry their enthusiasm into the next story. In addition, Nuñez is aware that many of the people who express interest may be working another job. And of course, there is a flipside to growth. “For now, I am more than content with my small team. We have turned our otherwise ‘weakness’ of being small into a strength, because we can move quickly and be versatile. Plus, we are a close knit group. Wooder Ice is a family.”