The whole thing started as a joke on Twitter.
After reading a piece right here on the Huffington Post about two film directors who made a pact to start a fake Twitter feud-- hey, nothing better for publicity! -- I proposed the idea to a friendly Jacksonville rival, @JeremyRatliff of WOKV Radio.
"Come on, Ratliff!" I tweeted. "A good Twitter feud could really help our Klout scores!"
Sadly, Ratliff declined. (For an on-air guy, he's actually sort of shy.)
But then something much more interesting happened. People following the exchange began tweeting about it themselves. "It's a #NewsroomStreetFight, just like in Anchorman!" read one.
The hashtag spread. Requests began to grow. Would we PLEASE re-create the classic news team battle scene from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy?
In about five minutes flat the decision was made. A real Newsroom Street Fight simply HAD to happen. I mean, Ron Burgundy truly needs an event in his honor, and who better to do it than the real Ron Burgundys of Jacksonville?
To build buzz, I asked Anchorman narrator and TV news icon Bill Kurtis to record a video promoting the event. Amazingly, he said yes! Check it out here.
Myself and the two other street fight planners, Tiffany Griffith of WOKV Radio and Natalie Wearstler, editor of Jacksonville Magazine, feverishly tweeted about the event. The Twitter stroking worked. People started following #NewsroomStreetFight and retweeting every update.
The excitement grew, and on Saturday, February 25th, nearly every media outlet in Jacksonville -- from print, radio and television -- fought to the death in a double-elimination dodgeball tournament benefiting the city's Police Athletic League.
We even got actor Kevin Porter, "Laser" of Dodgeball fame, to make an appearance at the event -- (along with play-by-play from Ron Burgundy himself! OK, it was a local actor, but still.)
While the TV and radio news teams of the city gave it a good fight, they sadly all ended up nothing but Wes Mantooths. Print outlet Jacksonvilel Magazine won the tourney and the coveted golden trident trophy! (Because who can forget the trident in the Anchorman battle scene?)
But the story didn't end there.
The national industry blog TV SPY picked it up. Suddenly, TV news denizens from Syracuse to Spokane began tweeting about the Anchorman-style rumble in the River City, and clamoring for their OWN #NewsroomStreetFight.
We're about as pleased as Veronica Corningstone after she was made co-anchor of San Diego's evening news. Planning is already in the works for next year's event -- and we hope other news markets follow our lead.
The whole thing was a case study in the power of Twitter to spread the word and build buzz about an event.
So if you start your own Street Fight, just remember -- stay classy -- and no touching of the hair or face!
Follow Melissa Ross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelissainJax