View Full Version : Notes from lunch w/ Elijah

01-06-2008, 12:02 AM
As noted in the "Blimp Ride" thread, Elijah and Daniel went to lunch with a small group of meetup organizers and donors. Some of that discussion is going to have to remain confidential but here are the discussion points that I can talk about:

- We made the point very clearly that constant communication is important to keep the Blimp community buzzing with excitement about what the Blimp is doing right now. We suggested a very low-tech approach - just call a blogger every hour or two and tell him a sentence about what's going on right now that can be blogged. For example, "The Blimp is on its way to the St. Petersburg Rally", "The Blimp is hovering over the pier right now", "The reporter has arrived at the airfield", etc.

- The regulatory constraints and vendor constraints on airship operations are complex and sometimes get more disclosed as things go along. For example, the Blimp cannot take passengers from point A to B, it changes the legal classification of the airship to do so. One issue right now is that the airship company does not want them saying where the airship is on the ground because they don't want a large crowd of people coming out to it and impairing relations with the airfield. These negotiations back and forth get complicated and take up a considerable amount of Liberty Political staff time (this does not imply that they are unhappy with Airship Management, just that this mission is very different than what the Blimp is usually used for and a number of new operating procedures are constantly getting developed or renegotiated).

- Liberty Political's operations are significantly constrained by the assurances that Trevor had to give to get customers on board with the Blimp initially (very limited salaries, all money had to go to the blimp lease first, etc). Out of the initial $400k, $350 is blimp lease, $25k more was banners, much of the remainder went to necessary legal retainers and fees, etc. The cash constraint can really impact operational quality. For example, equipment needed to improve the video feed couldn't get bought until the entire Blimp fee was in, and some still needs to get bought.

The major contributors felt that the Blimp team were going to have to get themselves unshackled and able to raise and spend whatever money they needed to do a good job. We felt that most of the people who were most vocal with transparency demands never contributed much of anything; we were there representing the paying contributors (or at least, ourselves, who counted as such, and people with significantly different agendas can feel free to spend thousands of dollar and fly out to the Blimp to make their own case :) ), and we wanted them to buy whatever the heck they needed. Our message to Elijah was satisfy your paying customers first, and we wanted them to be free to act like capitalists and be free to best serve our advertising needs. We suggested if they felt like they needed money without strings to allow customers to designated the money as "unrestricted fund" (like with college donations), where it can be used for any purpose in any order as they need, and solicit that money from they list of paying customers. We also suggested they start mailing their customer list specifically, and perhaps have a monthly subscription where you could automatically purchase advertising as long as the Blimp continues to fly. Also, no one has gotten paid yet; we told them that while we appreciated their zeal, we wanted them to start paying themselves ASAP, as going without income puts real financial and personal strain on key people and personnel loss to a small company would seriously impair work.

- We noted that having a longer advance schedule for the Blimp really helps people plan to come and take trips and helps get media on it, so we recommended they lay it out for a month, leaving whatever slack necessary in it and spending a few days per city.

- They do want to spend plenty of time in Florida where the Blimp can fly a lot. There is a really good reason to fly the Blimp to South Carolina. I can't say what it is and it's a gamble, but at least know that it is a really good one.

So there's what insight I can give!

01-06-2008, 12:07 AM

http://ronpaulideas.com/images/signatureblimp.png (http://RonPaulBlimp.com/)

01-06-2008, 07:15 AM
Thank you for sharing!

As far as communication goes, I agree that more is better. The team leaders could dictate messages and let someone else that has the time do a proper job of writing effective communications.

Further to communications, I noticed a change/addition in web management and a marked improvement in the website and blog. Well done!

01-06-2008, 12:01 PM
Thanks a lot for the info!

Absolutely great job Blimp Team!

01-06-2008, 12:39 PM
One more thing we suggested that I forgot to note. The experience of riding the Blimp is amazing. It's almost impossible to get a Blimp ride at any price - see this New York Times discussion (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...56C0A96F948260) or google "blimp rides" and see. So not only its it amazing, it's an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. $5000 is a large sponsorship, beyond the reach of most people. Since the Blimp has had extra seats lately, one large customer suggested that they run a short-term special and offer a blimp ride for a smaller sponsorship. I'm not sure if they'll end up doing this but Elijah was considering it so if you're dreaming of riding the Blimp (and it's well worth it) let them know if that's an idea you support :)