SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2017

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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March 2017 26 www.sportseventsmagazine.com GAME Plan t Move Social Media Front & Center Social media has revolution- ized the ways organizations reach their target markets. Sar- ah Bernstein, media and commu- nications specialist with USA Archery, said that social media is an integral component of their publicity strategy. "Our social media channels have grown significantly in the last 5 to 10 years. This has helped tremendously with publicizing our events," Bernstein said, adding that the cost of utilizing this medium is also very attractive because it's free. "We cover our events online from the moment registration opens and reach a lot of members via our social channels." Plus, with social media, the power and tools to increase market coverage is in a planner's hands, said Megan Ditchman, director of marketing for Elite Tournaments. Rather than waiting on someone to show up and report on an event, Ditchman said, "we can now communicate and raise awareness of what we are doing with people all over the nation and even world." Bernstein said that USA Archery is mak- ing video a central part of its social media strategy in 2017. "Social media is very important for en- gaging our fans and members, so we need to deliver an online experience that makes them feel as if they are part of the event even if they are not there," Bernstein said. While this has typically meant an article each day, live scores online and a daily photo album, the organization plans to in- corporate more live video and video recaps. "We have also seen a great increase in interest for flying drones at our events for aerial photos and videos," Bernstein said. Fully Leverage Your Website Investment Social media is great for cer- tain aspects of event promotion but the full scope of an event simply cannot be captured in 140 charac- ters or less. Planners are wise to run the social media gauntlet but they also need to leverage a well-designed website to provide background details, inform the public and influence the market. "The web allows a digital record of your information to remain online indefinitely, with the ability to be searched and recalled at any point in time," Ditchman said. She added that Elite Tournaments hosts a press page in tandem with an ongoing news and blog section to share content and main- tain ties with the public via promotional information and human-interest pieces. This strategy helps the organization personalize promotion efforts based on the nuances of specific events. "We run between 50 and 60 events per year, ranging in different levels of partici- pation and competition, so using the same formula would simply be ineffective for us," Ditchman said. Don't Leave Traditional Media Out of the Equation Different media outlets reach different audiences. Your website is only effective to those who know it exists. That goes for your Twitter feed as well. Traditional media remains an im- portant component to any promotional strategy. Bernstein laid out USA Archery's plan this way: "To engage the media, we find it is best to have a contact from a local sports commission or visitor's bureau make an introduction if they already have an established relationship. If that option is not available, we send out a media advisory and make sure to carefully explain the event, as an archery tournament is often a new type of event for many people. When they arrive at the event, we make sure there are designated media vests and a media lane so they have access to the field of play and the athletes for photos and interviews. We also give media a tour of the venue and offer to facilitate any interviews they are looking for." Aside from building positive relation- ships with members of the media, Ditch- man said that it can be extremely helpful to generate as much non-biased content for media partners as possible. These strategies can include press releases, company background information, fact sheets, pre-written articles, and digital images or pitches for article ideas. "Additionally, make sure that the infor- mation you are trying to promote is, in fact, promotion worthy," Ditchman said. "Think about whether or not you would be interest- ed in the story if it were to involve another company instead of your own, and make sure you aren't overwhelming your media sources with mundane information. They will stop paying attention to your content and might miss out on a big story." Lance Aldridge, executive director of the Austin Sports Commission, pointed to the importance of establishing relationships with key media to avoid reinventing the wheel across events. "We communicate with them [traditional media organizations] daily, basically, about what's going on, what's over the horizon on what events are coming up," Aldridge said. "Stay in touch with them, be honest with them and provide them with as much inside information as you possibly can." Have a Little Etcetera Providing incentive to attend an event is essential to draw- ing crowds. Longtime fans or newcomers may need a reason to actually get in the car and come to an event. If they can get the same expe- rience by staying at home, your marketing strategy is off. Bernstein explained how incentives are proving successful at USA Archery events. "We have worked with Academy to offer Try Archery booths at our events where attendees can try archery with a trained instructor, free of charge, and they receive a gift bag from Academy," Bernstein said. "This engages the community and, in re- turn, introduces many to our sport and how fun it can be." Bernstein said that incentive strategies come in many forms. For instance, teaming up with another popular existing event can draw the crowds as well. "We also had an event last year that host- ed the finals venue at a county fair in San Diego," Bernstein said. "The foot traffic was incredible compared to most of our other events and we attracted attention from many who may never otherwise have gone to an archery tournament." n 2 3 4 1

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