Sunday, January 19, 2014

MEDIA RELATIONS: Spreading the Message, Selling A Story

    Spreading the news about the LPGA is something I'm quite energized about these days as our "growth as an organization" story finds its way to more media outlets - print and television.  
     For those who don't follow the LPGA with regularity, the Tour has just announced the "Race to the CME Globe" - a new season-long "points race" that will link all 32 events on the schedule and allow players to compete for a $1 million bonus at season's end in Naples at the newly re-named CME Group Tour Championship. 

     Why is this big?  I could give you a million reasons ... but the biggest is simply "opportunity." For the players - it's an opportunity to play for more cash and a big year-end payout that will generate more buzz for everyone.  For the tournaments - its an opportunity that each event will see benefit from as players will find more reason to play more often (thus strengthening each event's field) and media will find more reason to pay attention to each event as the season rolls along.  For the sponsor - its a chance for CME Group to increase their brand awareness throughout the season and help build the brand of the LPGA along the way.  Clearly, the concept has great value for the Tour, the players and the tournaments.  And none of that is possible without their dedication to growing women's golf and taking a good idea "to market."  
LPGA Stars Gulbis, Kerr, Lewis

     But for CME Group, there is also the tie-in to charity as the season will also now have a link to the Wounded Warrior Project which benefits military members and their families after injury suffered in combat.   It's called "Wounded Warrior Weekends" and there's plenty of incentive to "go low" on Saturday and Sunday this season.  Donations in the amount of $1,000.00 will be awarded for each eagle made during the weekend play at LPGA events during the year.  And the amount climbs to $5,000.00 for each eagle made during the weekend at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.  All money will directly benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
     Recently, we took the entire story to the media with our announcement - something that was carefully planned for roll-out and included a trip to New York City.  The day began with the official announcement on Golf Channel's Morning Drive show, followed by an appearance on the "Today" show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb and trips to Bloomberg TV, Fox and Friends and several other print publications.
Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson on "Today"
    There's a bigger picture to all of this.  And that is "awareness," The best thing about the current state of the LPGA is that with an increase in tournaments from 23-32 over the last few years, exposure appears up as well.  And with that appears to be a heightened degree of awareness for our players, events and partners.  People are paying attention who simply hadn't noticed the LPGA business before.
LPGA Visits Bloomberg TV's "Taking Stock"

     Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the PR News - Media Relations Conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC.  The topic I was given was "The Art of the Pitch" - as in "pitching" stories to the media. It was certainly a great opportunity for the LPGA to gain a bit of exposure with a new audience of professionals and as part of my presentation, I was asked to share our strategy and how the media and the LPGA seem to be in concert telling the story of the Tour's recent growth. 
   What I found that day was genuine interest in our "brand" and our story of momentum.  By no means is this a finished product, and by no means is there reason to boast or brag about where the Tour currently finds itself.  But there is great pride around our Headquarters these days over the climbing interest and increased media attention. "Pitching" the LPGA is quite enjoyable these days.  And to be asked for an interview (below video) about philosophy and "the LPGA way" was a nice bonus after my presentation.                  

        It always feels good to be recognized and valued.  That's what appears to be happening for women's golf these days.  And as the new season begins in the Bahamas this week, I can promise that everyone associated with the Tour is geared up to deliver on the run of recent news.  We'll also keep working to make those who've been writing about the LPGA. and talking on air about the LPGA, feel like every word they've delivered has been well worth the time.
       In the next few weeks I've got a few speaking opportunities - including a keynote address to another big gathering of media and public relations professionals at the PRNews summit in San Francisco.  Each stage and each audience is another chance to spread the word about the LPGA and it's story.  These days, its a story that's certainly worth sharing, and one that feels like a much easier "sell" which is good news for anyone between our ropes or inside our media centers.
         Thanks, as always, for reading this blog and sharing with others.  You can add thoughts or share feedback with me on Twitter at @KraigKann.   Here's hoping that golf fans will enjoy a terrific LPGA season.  And if you haven't sampled the LPGA of late, come on out and See Why It's Different Out Here.

Thought for the Day: When it comes to spreading your media story, lay strategic bricks to build a foundation.  Every bit of news you share should tie to the same big picture.

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