Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sports and Digital Media Marketing: 3 Ways to Effectively Integrate

Whether you are a digital marketer yourself or someone who consumes digital media on a regular basis, it is always good to be up on the trends of today. Unfortunately, digital media and marketing best practices are still novel ideas to many business entities across the globe, and among the many who are starting to be left behind in this space are sports franchises. While some leagues like the NBA and certain super-teams like the FC Bayern soccer team out of Munich have been aggressive and tried to get themselves out in front of social/digital media trends, most in the sports world are still antiquated in their use of these "new-age" mediums.

As an undergraduate student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program
at Northwestern University, I have compiled a couple of articles that illustrate, in a broad sense, where digital trends are heading, and more specifically, how these apply to sports operators.

In a recent DigiDay article online, entitled 2018 Content Trends You Need to Know Right Now, Creative Executive Molly St. Louis speaks to how the digital content world is changing, and thus, how to best evolve with it.  The biggest, arguably most important point, St. Louis makes in the whole article is about just how dynamic this field is.  Long story short, this online, content-oriented world is constantly changing and evolving, and so the most important thing to do - staying up to date - may sound simple, but is most definitely easier said than done.  With that being said, there are trends she points to in terms of what is on the immediate horizon like the rise of "mobile" and "voice" activated AI; all things to consider when moving forward in the digital content space.

Image credit: company800 Staff Documents (https://sites.google.com/a/wcastl.org/the-westminster-school-of-business-and-communication/marketing/sportsmarketingproject)

Connect all of these ideas to what is going on in the sports world and you see some interesting parallels. SportsProMedia recently published an article entitled The Derby County model: digital transformation drives the future of sports marketing about a lower-divison soccer team in England and how they are trying to update many of the ways sports franchises interact with the online world.  Sports franchises used to have simple goals like getting people in the seats of their stadiums and winning games.  Traditional marketing was the means to an end to execute on these goals, but with the evolution of digital, there has been a proliferation of "means" to get to these simple ends. On top of this, sports teams do have the perk of having an abundance of ready-to-go digital consumers, also known as "fans." As the author, Matt Wheatcroft, puts it, "This ‘hidden army’ of support is the Holy Grail for professional sports clubs… a rich but untapped seam of digitally-savvy content consumers."  Matt notes how with the case in the article, the team made sure to make a seamless website no matter the device you are on in addition to an extensive user experience platform to engage with during actual live sporting events.  

In the case, the team seems to be prioritizing a lot of the qualities that Molly St. Louis alluded to previously in her article about content trends.  Now, when you think about these two articles in tandem, certain points begin to stick out.  Based on my review of the aforementioned titles and my studies at NU, I have created 3 key concepts to keep in mind when you are creating digital sports media or engaging with digital sports media.

Think Mobile
Tailor your user experiences for mobile devices – reach your audience where they are.

Drive Engagement
Reach isn’t always the most important metric – make sure your consumers are actually, actively 
ENGAGING with your content.

“Don’t try to be everything for everyone”
Make sure you know where to start and who your targets are before blindly going after every consumer. 

Whether you are just a sports consumer or a marketer by trade, these ideas are good starting points for you to think about in terms of how your favorite team is engaging with consumers online or, if not, how they should be.  Be sure to check out each article on it's own for even more detailed information on the topic.

Eli Sachs is a passionate digital marketer, social media strategist, and die-hard sports fan. He's pursuing his undergraduate degree in Learning and Organizational Change along with a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.   You can get in touch with Eli on his twitter page here.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Videogame Marketers: 3 Tips on How to Choose the Right Influencer

Videogame marketers are always searching for the best way to promote their games and influencers can be very effective at reaching their target audience. As a Northwestern student specializing in Communication Studies and Integrated Marketing Communications, I have found two articles on influencers that will interest you.

Why non-gaming influencers may be the best fit for your game by James Batchelor from gamesindustry.biz gives advice on choosing the right influencer based off your target demographic. It is a challenge to get the popular game influencers who may or may not want to try your game. Rather than fighting for their favor, Batchelor suggests being open to other influencers who can just as effectively appeal to your target market. Allowing influencers to be more deeply involved in the marketing process can help produce more creative and unique ideas. Furthermore, start looking to different platforms, not just YouTube. Depending on your type of game and marketing strategy, working with different types of influencers on different channels may be a better fit.


Do not underestimate the power of active communities as micro influencers. Daniel Rosales article on LinkedInGuilds as Video Games Micro-Influencers talks about using guilds as a different way to reach your target market. Rosales mentions that while guilds are relatively small, there are also a few multi-game guilds with active communities. Reaching out to a professional guild, Dragons: Guild Master of The Syndicate, Rosales talks more in-depth about this possibility. Overall, Rosales stresses that guilds are an engaged, passionate community that should be further investigated as an effective micro influencer opportunity.

After reviewing these articles and from my studies from Northwestern University, I have developed with a few key tips to improve your focus on influencers:

  • Be More Open- Start focusing on the demographics of your viewers. Trying using specialized channels and other influencers related to your target market's interests
  • Use Other Platforms- Don't just use YouTube, take advantage of different social media platforms based on the type of game you have and the audience you want to reach.
  • Think About Micro- Give guilds a chance as a micro influencer, they have potential to make a significant impact.

As marketers, it is important to look for new ways to connect with audiences. Be sure to take these tips into consideration the next time you are in search of influencers for your next game!

                                                                                                                           Oceana Hamilton is a senior undergraduate student-athlete majoring in Communication Studies and pursing an Integrated Marketing Communications certificate at Northwestern University. Graduating June 2018, she aspires to work in marketing after pursing her professional basketball career.

A passionate gamer, you can reach her on LinkedIn or Twitter

Friday, May 11, 2018

Volleyball Junkies: 3 Tips to Promote Athletic Success using the Power of Perspective

If you are not investing the time and energy to develop the mental side of your game, you're guilty of self-sabotage. As a Northwestern University student specializing in Economics, I have found two articles on how to frame challenges to foster better athletic performance, which will interest you. 

2016 Olympic medalist and current pro player Kelsey Robinson picked Carli Lloyd's brain for her blog Nom and Play. Carli Lloyd is a highly acclaimed and well-respected player in the volleyball world, as she is a Bronze Olympic medalist and was recently inducted into University of California Berkeley's Hall of Fame. Robinson's blog post gives you a glimpse into how Lloyd processes the world around her, learning to frame change as an opportunity. She attributes her ability to persevere in the face of challenges to first "accepting what is" and then focusing on what she can control.

Image by Matt Brown via USAV

Karch Kiraly, the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Head Coach, periodically shares snippets of wisdom to his blog on the USA Volleyball website. His 2012 blog post titled "Stuff Happens Learn to Love It" outlines how embracing adversity better positions you for success. Kiraly's message is similar to one of my favorite quotes: "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond". When things do not play out as planned, you are still in control of dictating the outcome. Kiraly encourages his readers to start expecting life's curve balls, so you can spend less time fixating on the ensuing negatives and more time figuring out how to deal with them.

Based on my review of these two articles and my studies at Northwestern, I have created 3 tips to use when focusing on strengthening the mental side of your game.

  • Be Present: Do not dwell on mistakes because you cannot change the past.
  • Expect the Unexpected: Accept that you will be faced with adversity in both sports and life, and learn to rise to the occasion.
  • See Big Picture: Find joy in the process because preparation does not guarantee the desired result.

It is time to start investing as much in your mental strength as your physical strength to get the most out of your athletic career. When athleticism is similar, mindset is the differentiating factor. 

Taylor Tashima is a four-year starter and 3x captain of the Northwestern University Varsity Volleyball Team. She is passionate about training and mentoring ambitious high school athletes who desire to pursue volleyball at the collegiate level and beyond. An aspiring professional volleyball player, she has experience representing USA in countries including Thailand, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Mexico. In 2013, she captained the USA Youth Team that took the Silver medal versus China at the World Championships. This achievement was significant, as it marked the first US medal in a World Championship for either gender at the youth or junior level. She will be graduating from Northwestern in June 2018 with a degree in Economics, minor in Business, and certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Event Marketers: Upgrade Your In-Person Experiences by Encouraging Hands-On Interaction

In the events industry, capturing and keeping the attention of audiences is the name of the game. Especially in crowded, busy festival or conference environments, how can a single booth or display stick in people's minds when they are surrounded by so many visual and sensory stimuli? As a theatrical design student at Northwestern who is also enrolled in the university's esteemed certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications, I've noticed two articles that have caught my eye recently about how organizations and brands have utilized hands-on interaction to build memorable experiences for audiences.

On bizbash.com, writer Martha C. White detailed an innovative display at TED 2018 in which attendees could stand on a realistic set in front of a live camera with a microphone and record their own 45 to 60-second personal TED talks. The installation, conceived by TED engineer Michael Rhing, became a "crowd-pleaser" by providing a hands-on outlet for attendees who arrived at the conference with their own ideas for TED-type speeches. By giving attendees the opportunity to act out their own ideas in a well-equipped setting, the installation greatly enriched the TED 2018 experience for all.

A colorful stage picture at TED 2018. (Photo: Bret Harman/TED)
In another bizbash.com article, Rose Curiel catalogued the efforts of brands to connect with the young, culturally attuned, well-connected attendees at this year's Coachella music festival. One particular effort, from high-fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent, involved neon-decorated vending machines placed throughout the festival grounds that allowed passers-by to purchase beauty products such as fragrances and accessories immediately-- another example of using the live event medium to give attendees an opportunity to interact hands-on with a brand's offerings.

Based on these two articles, and my knowledge from Northwestern, I'd recommend 3 strategies for the event planner who seeks a more hands-on connection to attendees:

1) Let them star. By giving even a brief moment of "performance" to TED attendees, the designers of the "personal TED talk" booth centered audience experience.

2) Be everywhere. The success of Saint Laurent lay in how they successfully inserted themselves into a wide physical space.

3) Closer is better. When audiences can physically touch and interact with displays, their connection with brands and organizations deepens.

See if you can incorporate these ideas into your next live event, whatever size it may be!

Nathan Selinger is a senior at Northwestern studying Theatre and Economics with a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications. Check him out on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Film/TV: 3 Tips for Thinking About the Work of Controversial Figures

·       As viewers of film and television, it is important to consider the implications of the media we are consuming and its creators, especially in regards to the recent Hollywood movements relating to abuse and assault. As a film student at Northwestern University, I have two articles that will help you navigate the conflicting feelings you may feel when thinking about the work made by controversial people.

      In the Paris Review article What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? author Claire Dederer grapples with her own feelings on consuming the work of controversial figures. She goes through many men: Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen. She ponders if it’s fair that these men’s transgression are interfering with her connection to their art, and asks what their situations mean for her love of their work. Additionally, she discusses what our moral responsibility is as viewers when watching these pieces. Finally, she poses the questions: “What is to be done about monsters? Can and should we love their work? Are all ambitious artists monsters? Tiny voice: [Am I a monster?]”

Source:  https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/25/us/list-of-accused-after-weinstein-scandal-trnd/index.html

      Wesley Morris discusses the implications of the Bill Cosby trial in his New York Times article How to Think About Bill Cosby and ‘The Cosby Show.’ He cites the 8 season show as a source of foolproof happiness and joy. But, he also emphasizes that there are other parts of Bill Cosby that people tend not to focus on. He explores these parts of the public figure, and argues that America’s collective cultural memory may be selective. The fall of Bill Cosby is complicated, Morris argues, by racial issues. In cases such as Cosby and OJ Simpson, Morris says: “If achieving success in this country is twice as hard for black people, it’s also doubly tough for black people to flunk their own.” Morris also points out that Cosby decided to weaponized his work by utilizing lines from Fat Albert, which remains a big disappointment for the author.

After reading these two articles, and from my studies as a film student at Northwestern, I highly recommend these action items the next time you are thinking about work created by controversial figures:
  •  Reject the weaponization -- Do not let the art of the artists become an excuse for their transgressions; do not let them use their portfolios as a weapon of strategy to negate their wrongdoings.

  • Mourn the nostalgia -- If you wish to condemn the artists, you cannot separate them from their alter egos; their wrongdoings have contaminated even those most innocent and comforting works with controversy

  • Accept the conflict -- This is an important ongoing conversation that requires nuance and the exploration of context as it relates to many factors; accept that while there is no easy solution, the dialogue around this topic is productive.
While watching film and television, it is important that we do not forget the context of the media we are consuming. We must explore our own moral responsibilities and, most importantly, remain in an open and ongoing conversation about these topics.

Kiki Meiners-Rios is a dedicated student at Northwestern University studying Radio, Television, Film + Creative Writing + Integrated Marketing Communications. She endeavors to work in the film industry, and you can connect with her on Twitter (@_kiki_m) or LinkedIn.