Archive for May, 2014

The Quest for Sponsorships

May 12, 2014

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember weekend afternoons in front of the TV set, watching Chris Schenkel call the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tournament of the week. Big names like Dick Weber and Don Carter would compete every week in a sport that a lot of us played at our hometown lanes. It was a big deal if there was a PBA stop near you.

And, it hasn’t been that long ago, in March of 2000, that the PBA tour got a jolt of enthusiasm (and cash) when former Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Rob Glaser and Mike Slade resurrected the tour, albeit for a short time. By 2009, when the economy was starting to take a hit, so did the PBA Tour, cutting the number of tour stops and overall events, with many of the tournament finals now shown on tape instead of live. In between the Professional Women’s Bowling Association went out of business in 2003, and now men and women compete equally on the tour.

Now, the latest, and possibly, final blow to a once proud tour, the U.S. Open, one of the top bowling tournaments in the country, has been canceled for the second year in a row after the Bowling Proprietors Association of America failed to find sponsors. This year’s Open already had been scratched—now, the 2015 Open also has fallen victim to the lack of sponsorship.

The BPAA says it costs about a half million dollars to put on the Open, money that they have not been able to raise. They say it’s because advertisers like to reach the 18 to 35 year old crowd, a crowd sponsors don’t think they can reach at the lanes. But those advertisers may be victim to stereotypes.

A 2012 Experian Simmons National Consumer Survey found that more than 51 million adults ages 18 and over, and perhaps more significantly, 19 million youths aged 6 to 17, are bowling, and 2012 was the fifth straight year that participation in bowling grew.

Here are some more facts from that Experian survey: The average income of a bowling household is nearly $68,000 a year, more than 46% of those households had incomes of $75,000 a year or more, and almost 32% of them had household incomes of more than $100,000. What advertiser WOULDN’T want that demographic?

You want younger demos? High school bowling is one of the fastest growing high school sports in the country, with more than 5,000 schools offering bowling programs with more than 50,000 participating in 47 states. Collegiate bowling is growing by more than 10 percent a year, and the sport is recognized at the NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA levels.

The lesson? Do your research. Do your homework when looking for sponsors to match up with your events. Presenting potential sponsors with facts and figures for their target audience may help save—and even grow—your home town events.

 

Bowling blog

“Celebritizing” Your Event

May 12, 2014

The 118th running of the Boston Marathon was marked with, of course, great emotion and even larger crowds, both running and spectating. It also had its share of celebrity, as the famous, the almost famous and wanna-be-famous looked to showed their support for the event and, usually, run for a good cause.

Among the glitterati: Former New England Patriot Teddy Bruschi; NBC Today Show news anchor Natalie Morales; Jim Wahlberg, brother of Boston stalwarts (and singer/actors) Mark and Donnie Wahlberg; Donnie’s New Kids on the Block compatriot Joey McIntyre and many others.

Of course, when you have a celebrity connected to your event, you are expecting a measure of publicity surrounding that celebrity. Note the Red Carpet treatment at the Kentucky Derby, from the famous Barnstable Brown Pre-Derby party (this year’s guest list includes Kings of Leon, Miranda Lambert, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Boy Band alum Joey Fatone and Mary Wilson from the Supremes) to the big screen celeb introductions at the Derby itself.

So, you say what does Joey Fatone have to do with my local 3-on-3 basketball tournament? Well, more than you might think. Let’s go with the premise that celebrities draw coverage. Every area has a morning news show host or a wacky weatherman or traffic reporter who often is sent out into the community for feature opportunities. Say, you have the wacky weatherman go one on one with one of your basketball athletes-the younger the better-and your athlete scores a basket faster than you can spell H-O-R-S-E.

That’s great TV. And, you get publicity for your event, publicity that you could never get just sending out a news release on the event. Remember, there’s lots of time to fill on local morning news shows these days, and if you can offer something different and entertaining for the morning show to cover, a camera will follow.

That’s another reason that media days before an event (think golf) are a big hit. The sports anchor and a camera person (sometimes they’re one and the same) get a nice lunch at a nice golf course, do an interview with the defending champion, then stick around for a few holes of golf at a course they wouldn’t be able to play otherwise. You get publicity for your event, for the cost of lunch.

So don’t hesitate to celebritize your event, from a publicity stunt to honorary coaches from the local radio/TV stations, to having the local sports anchor emcee your awards dinner or closing ceremonies. From the Boston Marathon to 3-on-3 basketball, it works.

 

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Happy National Tourism Week!

May 6, 2014

Perhaps, it’s a good time to assess what tourism in general means to your area, and in this business, sports tourism in particular. And, more importantly, it can be a time to look at unused assets and opportunities that you may have right in your own back yard and re-energize your economic base.

In the Madison, Wisconsin area, sports tourism means University of Wisconsin games as well as Ironman and USA Cycling events. But it also means bringing in sports that may not be top of mind, like Tug of War tournaments and Ultimate Frisbee.

In an article in the Wisconsin State Journal, Judy Frankel with the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the Madison area is not necessarily looking to bring in softball, baseball, volleyball and hockey tournaments. Other areas of the state take care of those sports.

“We have a community that encourages being outside and being active,” said Frankel. “We have so many ways in which you can do it, whether you’re renting a B-Cycle for 10 minutes or you’re doing a 100-mile bike ride.” The active lifestyle of the community has encouraged the Ironman franchise to be in the area through 2018 in a state where overall tourism in 2013 was up 4.3 percent to an economic impact of $17.5 billion.

Lubbock, Texas is celebrating the week in a more engaging way. John Osborne, the president and CEO of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance and Visit Lubbock, wrote an editorial in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on how residents of the Hub City can actively promote Lubbock as a tourism destination, sports or otherwise with the “Live Love Lubbock” campaign, adding the hashtag #LiveLoveLubbock to social media photos of the area, offering prize incentives for the posts.

Other sports commissions and CVBs are holding “FAM” trips, sponsor luncheons and other activities to engage and update their community leaders on what tourism means to the region.

As you celebrate National Tourism Week, take the opportunity to look at your sports landscape and how your own community assets can help make it grow. Be an advocate for your community and the industry.

Caution: Social Media at Work

May 5, 2014

By now just about everyone has heard about, and weighed in on, the reported telephone conversation between, allegedly, Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend. While the authenticity of the recording is still being debated, along with the punishment, if any, for the owner, this is not a post about bad owner behavior.

This is about social media.

Because this whole Sterling phone call, if it indeed was him, started with his objection to his girlfriend’s posting on Instagram. Ah yes, Instagram, where you can upload photos to the world. She apparently did so, and he didn’t like it.

Instagram is just the latest in a long line of social media channels that people, businesses, teams and athletes use to stay connected, get out information and ‘skip the middle man’ of media and preach directly to those who have deemed they are interested by ‘liking’ or ‘following’ your page. We follow celebrities on Twitter to get a sense of their lives, we ‘like’ a team on Facebook to get inside information and, often, ticket and event deals.

So yes, most of the time, social media is a good thing. Except when it isn’t.

We could fill this page, and more, of reports of athletes tweeting before they think about some issue, then immediately taking it down.

For example: Earlier this month the Dallas Mavericks were fined $25,000 by the NBA after public address announced Sean Heath sent off a series of three not-so-flattering tweets aimed at the refs who worked a Mavs vs. Warriors game.

For many organizations, especially those who are strapped for cash and personnel (like many sports corporations) it seems logical to bring in a college intern (since anyone under the age of 30 ‘gets’ social media) and entrust him or her to your most direct line of communication to your followers. Often, it works out fine. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Social media is never going to go away, and in fact it’s a marvelous tool for tight-budgeted organizations who want to communicate to their fans and followers directly. But your organization needs to do it responsibly and regularly.

A few tips:

1)      Create an editorial schedule of what you will post (when and by who).

2)      Decide what channel will communicate what information (you don’t have to use all social media platforms, just those that make sense for your audience).

3)      Make regular posts on your social media channels so fans become accustomed to your news feeds.

Yes, social media is, in large part, a great tool for all of us to use. But we must remember to use it wisely, and strategically, to impart information, burnish the brand and share messages directly to fans.