T-Minus Two: The ‘State of the Summit’ Address Preview

By: Melissa S. Wollering

It began as a year-end reflection and future call-to-action.  As the Sports Bank.net progressed beyond infancy, developing into one of the Midwest’s premier sports webzines, founder Paul M. Banks began to take time at the end of each calendar year to formally address his staff.  For the first time, Paul will get the chance to physically stand before his contributors and give them an update: both on the Website and on his hopes for the first inaugural Summit.
“We’ve established ourselves already in terms of high-quality content and in our esteemed pedigree of interview guests,” says TSB founder Paul M. Banks.  “Now it’s time to do the same thing that we already do, except on a bigger level and to a much broader audience.”

It will be the second time in less than a month that Paul Banks has visited the ‘city with four lakes’. Two of TSB’s contributors, David K. and Melissa Wollering both reside near Madison, Wisconsin. After a weekend of living the ‘high life,’ with Leinenkugel’s, champagne, sushi and hanging out with famous pundits, Banks was hooked.
“As you know, I was just in [Madison] last weekend for a big-time conference,” says Banks. “The Progressive magazine, founded by Wisconsin Senator Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollete in 1909, held a huge 100th anniversary conference at the Monona Terrace Convention Center with a beautiful view of Lake Monona. It was inspirational because who knows where TSB will be in 2107 when my descendants have taken control of it? The same venue? Between last weekend and this upcoming weekend, it’s clear now that Madison, Wisconsin is the bright shining center of the universe—I can’t wait!”

Banks believes this weekend’s Summit will provide quality time for his writers to get to know one another. With no less than eight men in the same two-story home, bonding is bound to be a gross understatement.  However, Banks believes the friendships formed will forge healthier working relationships.
“We’re going to all come together, have a great time and become closer personally and professionally,” says Banks.  “In doing so, we’ll have a lot of fun as we lay the foundation for increasing awareness of The Sports Bank.net and establishing sound fundamentals on the business side of the Website. I’m also beginning the first ever summer intern recruiting season for the site, so we’ll be going over that topic quite a bit as well.”
Mr. Banks believes his contributors can take TSB to the next level by focusing on three areas of improvement: content, sponsorship/partnership and publicity/promotion. He also plans to stress ownership of the Sports Bank to his employees.
“I’m going to set aside at least 30 minutes of one-on-one time with each of my contributors and ask them what they expect out of me and the site, as well as tell them what my expectations for them are. I feel that within the first area [content], we are already on par with or superior to any sports webzine one can find on the Internet.”
As for sponsorship and publicity, Banks believes those areas will strengthen as TSB’s traffic increases.  The Website’s numbers have continued to trend upward and Paul credits incredible teamwork for those results.  As for contributors who are unable to attend this weekend’s Summit, Banks says he plans to have the same one-on-one conversations with them over the phone in the near future.
I asked Mr. Banks for a sneak-peak into the Summit’s agenda.  He delivered with a great outline of what he has in store for his audience.
“I’ll give an abridged and updated version of the same speech I gave at on the first day of March Madness. I gave a presentation entitled ‘Sports Media in the Post-newspaper Landscape’ at Roosevelt University on Michigan Avenue. It was part of the Scholastic Press Association’s Annual Conference. I was up against some heavy hitters (as Kanye says ‘really heavy hitters, 87 go-getters, two hoes like John Ritter’) from Fox, CBS, the Tribune, etcetera in my time slot, so I was really proud to have a full-house in my room.”

As Banks witnesses all of his contributors converge for the first time, feelings of ‘inspiration’ and ‘pride’ may surface as he sees his legacy unfold.
“It was a long time coming, but it’s going to be well worth the wait. I’ve never met [our contributors from] Minnesota before, but sometimes they feel like brothers to me.”
Just don’t get the wrong idea; not everything about the weekend will be serious business. Banks has a sense of humor about gathering writers who know how to celebrate as well as they know their sports. He knows the party will probably rock as much as Kris Allen’s acoustic guitar version of Kanye’s ‘Heartless’ on Tuesday.

“Oh, and I’m employing the Jack Welch/GE model for my staff. We’re going to rate everyone’s performance and the people who score in the bottom 10% are automatically fired! Just kidding obviously!  TSB is anything but corporate.”