When Sports Are Bigger Than The Scores

We focus on the scores, wins and losses a lot in this industry. But when you step back, sports are bigger than sports. The game has the power to transcend entertainment into something much larger. This past weekend in the NFL was proof of that.

Amid the NFL battle with President Trump, there were two brand pushes that stood out. First, the NFL decided to push out its Super Bowl commercial about unity again. The lines in the spot are so powerful:

“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination. Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us.

Second, the Miami Dolphins pushed out this beautiful and simple piece:

These decisions and moves for brands, teams and leagues aren’t always easy. The line for brands is blurring. Today, many consumers expect brands to embrace a position and set of values. But of course, it’s a slippery slope.

When thinking about taking a stance on anything beyond the game, it’s important to remember the following things:


Define your brand values.

For any brand to take a stance, they must know their brand values first. What as an organization do you stand for? Before a brand, team or league takes any position, ensure the values are defined.


Look internally first.

Writing down brand values on a piece of paper doesn’t mean the organization is actually living by them. It’s important to take a hard look in the mirror before taking a public stance on anything. Is the brand walking the walk? Brands must practice what they preach. Period.


Be consistent.

Values aren’t something a person is wishy washy on. If you believe in something, you stand by it. The same is true for a brand that wants to take a stance. If you plan to take a position, you have to stick to it. If you try and play every crowd consumers will see right through it and you will alienate everyone.


Less is often more.

There’s something about simplicity that is powerful. When working through messaging, remember less is often more. Don’t get cute. Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. The Dolphins post is a perfect example of that.


Know the pulse.

The world changes and views evolve. This doesn’t mean that we completely abandon are values, but it does mean we need to have a pulse on what’s going on in the world. There’s nothing worse than a tone deaf brand. Awareness of the current climate is key. It will go a long way to ensure you shape a message the pushes things forward instead of backfire.

This weekend was a small example of the impact sports plays in the world. It’s more than entertainment. It has the ability to inspire, move and mobilize people. Consumers look for brands to take a stance– but only if it’s authentic. When tapping into something more than the scores, remember that it’s important to actually know and live by your brand values.

Social Media Isn’t a Dumping Ground

Early on marketers were attracted to social media for its ease and access to people. To activate and activate well did not take much when brands first started to dabble in the platforms. You needed solid creative for one or two platforms (and often just images) and someone who could be attentive to the community. People often joked that social media was free.

Fast forward to now and social media has matured across the board. Platforms have implemented algorithms; ad units and targeting options have expanded; and a consumer’s attention is not easily earned. With the evolved landscape, getting to social media success looks a bit differently than it did before. We have to think about our approach more thoughtfully and strategically.

Every brand that has a social media and digital presence is currently in a battle for attention. And often this battle for attention creates unnecessary demands within organizations. There’s pressure to produce content, have a robust calendar that accounts for every hour in the day and we’re told to push more than ever before.

Yes, if you work in social media, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a million messages and emails to post x now without warning, alignment or a why. This is the type of thing we have to resist.

As social media managers, it’s our responsibility to resist the pressure and temptation to use social media as a dumping ground. You know that “posting to post” can harm your community, your reach, your engagement. Social media is not the place to simply check the box for an internal story your consumer does not care about. If you treat it as such, your audience will exercise their power to hit unfollow.

It’s time to reverse the thinking on what social media means for a brand, team or league. It must be looked at as the front door to a brand and organization instead of an item to check off. Your online presence is often the consumer’s drumbeat and constant connection to your brand. Every interaction represents your brand and shapes your audience’s perception. That’s not something to be taken lightly.

Brands don’t just say “yes” to any internal request for traditional media ads. Why should we do the same with social? Yes, it’s much easier to activate on these platforms, but it doesn’t mean we should devalue the content and approach we take on them. It’s so important for brands to build a POV and understand the value, story and why that they provide.

Long gone are the days where you can post and pray. A good social media presence is about the totality of the experience. Every post and action should map back to some kind of purpose, and more importantly, give your consumer a reason to care and share.

5 Thought Starters from #BAEROD

Every now and then a tweet takes our industry by storm. One that we talked about, dissect and use as a case student for months to come. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, then let me introduce you to #BAEROD:


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The @Yankees tweeted this out when Alex Rodriquez hit his 25th grand slam. From a team that has been pretty vanilla in the past, this was quite a surprise to anyone who follows them. It ended up being a pretty polarizing tweet. #BAEROD generated 5,800 retweets, but it also unleashed an array of negative comments. I know haters are always going to hate, but it wasn’t just a few trolls. It was more widespread than that. Take a look through all the comments here.

The tweet also generated great conversation from people in the social media and sports industry with mixed opinions. I do imagine this tweet was a win internally, but it’s not that black and white.

Given all the great conversation the tweet has spurred, I thought there are points for us to mull over. As social media managers, there’s a lot to pushing the envelope with brand voice or content. Here are just some initial “thinking points” from #BAEROD:


1. Pop culture comes with pros and cons.

If you and your team find yourself in a moment to jump on a popular trend or moment, just remember pop culture comes with its pros and its cons in sports. Strong pop culture content (like #BAEROD) often evokes strong emotion- surprise, love,hate— that causes people to share.

On one hand pop culture can help to humanize a brand. The Yankees have been bland on social in this past, so this approach was a breath of fresh air for some. For others, “bae” just doesn’t fit it in with baseball and their team.

It’s important to have conversations with your internal team to make sure you are all on the same page about content and why it makes sense. If you are looking for eyeballs, something like #BAEROD might make sense.


2. Retweets mean a lot of different things.

When you are looking to measure success during a pop culture/polarizing moment, it’s important to remember engagement can mean a lot of different things. People don’t retweet just because they love the content. People also retweet moments like #BAEROD because of shock or anger. You can’t look at things in one dimensionally. You have to dig deeper. In this case, looking at the sentiment of the replies is also important.


3. Remember everything and everyone the brand represents.

When You have to wonder what A-Rod thinks of #BAEROD. Teams want to have a fun brand voice, but the voice is also a reflection of the organization, team and its players. Make sure you showcase the team and players in the right light—one that reflects who they are. I’ll just leave it at this: If someone spots A-Rod wearing a #BAEROD shirt, I’ll be shocked.


4. Don’t push luck.

Even if #BAEROD was an internal win for the Yankees team, they can’t abuse their luck. Based on the comments alone, their audience won’t be receptive to this sort of tone all the time. These moments are best when used strategically and sparingly. Don’t push your luck or you might push fans away.


5.Remember your core audience.

One of the great things about Twitter is that content reaches way beyond your audience when it’s shared. This is important to keep in mind with content like #BAEROD. Polarizing and pop-culture content spreads way beyond your core audience and often to the masses. Just because people are sharing, does not mean it’s your core audience.

If your target audience is male, talking about players in terms of BAE might not resonate. Don’t be fooled by engagement and neglect your core. Look at the demographics and pay attention to sentiment. More eyeballs are great, but not at the sacrifice of your most dedicated and loyal fans.


This post isn’t meant to say the #BAEROD post was right or wrong for the Yankees. Only they truly know their goals and brand. I simply wanted to get all of us thinking about some of the different angles, so hopefully these were thought starters for you!




What did you think of #BAEROD? Love it or hate it? Did it challenge your thinking in any way?

Thanks for reading! 

Tips for Reaching Out In the Industry

Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to connect with people you admire in your industry. Social media networks like Twitter and LinkedIn provide opportunity to follow, learn from and talk with some bright and interesting people. The connected world we live in can be one of the most powerful tools in your professional career if you leverage it the right way. Take advantage of the chance to build relationships with people you admire in the space.

The sports industry is full of wonderful people who are often willing to offer their advice and insight. And while many people will lend advice, there’s an art to asking and networking. If you want to reach out to someone for advice, below are some tips from my personal experience to make sure you build a bridge the right way.


Come with specific questions.

All too often I get emails painted with a broad brush: I want to work in social media + sports. How do I make that happen? Generic, broad questions like this won’t help you and are hard for someone to answer. Careers are long and winding and also take many different paths. There isn’t one specific thing that will break you into the industry. It takes hard work, patience and persistence. No one can provide you with a magic answer that will give you that break you need.

If you want to reach out to someone for advice, come with specific questions. It’s important to do some self-reflection before reaching out to someone to understand where you are struggling/need advice. Direct questions will give you more actionable answers. It also shows you were thoughtful in your approach, which will make someone more likely to take the time to respond.

What do more direct questions look like? If you are trying to figure out if the industry is right for you, then you can focus on questions about day-to-day responsibilities, biggest challenges, what they enjoy, etc. If you are trying to make yourself more marketable, then ask about what skill sets are needed, what they look for in candidates, etc. If you want insight from their career path, ask about their first job, one thing they wish they had known early on, etc. Put together thoughtful questions that will allow you to take action.


Manage expectations.

It’s important to manage expectations when reaching out to someone. One email will not land you your dream job. You can’t expect people to recommend you, introduce them to their contacts, etc. if it’s the very first interaction you have ever had.

It’s important to manage what you expect to get out from reaching out to someone. At first, it should always be about building a relationship and gaining knowledge. It’s about nothing more and nothing less. If you cultivate it the right way though, it could lead to a door opened down the road.


Find the common thread.

Do your research before reaching out to someone. Through LinkedIn and personal websites, it’s easy to find out someone’s background, interests, education, network, etc. If you have share something in common with them, whether it’s someone in your network or an interest, then share that in the email. This will help build a more personal connection and give someone more reason to take the time to respond.


Be thankful.

When I sit down to write an email back to someone, it often takes 30 – 45 minutes of my time to gather my thoughts, write the email and proofread. It might seem like an email response is a simple ask, but it takes time for someone to respond. When they do, be thankful. Reply and let them know you got it. Show them you are thankful and let them know how you are going to take action from their advice.

It’s amazing how many times I’ve written an email and never even heard a “thank you” back. Time is valuable asset. When people give it, show your thanks.


Give updates.

I give back because I enjoy it. If I can help someone, even in a small way with his or her career, it’s worth taking the time to respond. But, if I take the time to respond to an email, I would prefer it not be a “one and done”. I want to actually connect.

The people I have built relationships with from them reaching out are the ones that have followed up with updates. They keep me informed with new jobs, with their work, with ideas, etc. (these aren’t day-to-day updates, but big updates/interesting projects).

If someone is willing to help you along the way, then give updates on your work. Show how they’ve helped you. Build the type of relationships where you both can bounce ideas off of one another. Following up is a powerful thing.


Be considerate.

My last piece of advice for reaching out to someone is to be considerate. Remember that it takes time to respond—don’t abuse someone’s kindness. And always be willing to give back too.

Networking is a powerful thing in the sports industry, but there’s definitely an art and a science to it. Network in a way that is beneficial to you AND the person you are reaching out to. Make you are being thoughtful, understand what you want to accomplish and are being respectful of the other person’s time. Network to build a build, a relationship. That will help you in the long run.




What tips do you have for reaching out to others in the industry? Let us know below!


Thanks for reading!

Snark & Edge Aren’t the Only Way to Win the Internet

It’s been a hot topic lately: There’s enormous pressure that comes with working in social media and sports. Social media managers don’t just carry the weight of the brand at their fingertips. There’s also pressure to get more eyeballs, better reach and be hip. Add this pressure on top of the addicting nature of social media (as in the instant gratification of shares and comments) and it’s a pretty intense situation.

This combination of internal and external pressure has caused an interesting trend in social media and sports: The idea that to win the Internet you have to resort to snark and edge. With the recent Houston Rockets incident, we’ve had many people write about the industry. People have talked about how it’s hard to balance the need to win on Twitter while remaining on brand. The notion that you have to be snarky and edgy to get reach is not true though. There are many ways to resonate with fans.

So if snark and edge aren’t the key to success, then what is?

The voice of an organization on social media should be an internal team exercise— not just that of the social media manager. Once the voice and tone are set, it is up to the social media manager to leverage his or her creativity on the platforms, writing ability and artistic eye to shine. Creativity isn’t limited to voice and tone alone.

It’s time to shine light on some of the creative ways teams and leagues have won their fans over— in a fashion other than snark. There’s so much more creativity in this industry than an edgy voice.

Below are just a few examples of how teams/leagues have resonated with fans through creative use of the platforms, good content, stellar writing and thinking outside the box:


1- Hawks Spotify Playlist

After the Hawks’ winning streak came to an end, the team delivered a special message to fans through a Spotify playlist. Not only did the move resonate with fans, but it garnered media attention:


2- NY Rangers Go Lowercase

The New York Rangers have done away with capital letters during the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs as they face the Washington Capitals. The no-caps policy is enforced on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This is a smart and fun play that has earned them media attention, including a write-up in Mashable. It’s not about snark, but about being clever.


3- Trail Blazers GIF in Review

Forget the regular season recaps, the Trail Blazers decided to take it up a notch and celebrate their year in GIFS. The team created a fantastic, interactive Tumblr where fans could relive the top moments in GIFS. It’s a smart use of an often underutilized platform, and a great way to capitalize on a popular trend (GIFS). View it here.

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4- ’Night Before Christmas, Sports Edition

It all started with a simple “Night Before Christmas” tweet from the Phillies on Christmas Eve. Other teams took note and decided to join the fun. The result was an epic sports-style version of the “Night Before Christmas”. This was a quick-witted use of Twitter. A great example of how teams can engage with one another the right way!


5- Forty Viners

Forty Viners was launched in 2014 as a way to create one-of-a-kind Vines about upcoming games, behind-the-scenes content, highlights and more. The campaign, which continues into the upcoming season, features work from well-known Vine artists as well as creations from fans (featured on video boards or on 49ers.com). It’s an amazing example of creative content. Below are a few examples:



These five examples above skim the surface of creativity in the industry. Winning on the Internet doesn’t have to mean snark and edge, unless of course that is simply the brand’s stick. Through strong writing, creative content and pushing the boundaries of platforms, social media managers can win fans over again and again.




What are some of your favorite examples of creativity in social media and sports? Please share them below!

Thanks for reading!