Getting the attention of sports fans isn’t simple – and keeping it is even harder. Scribble Live asked experts from the digital arms of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CNN, Reuters, and more to share their advice.
Given the endless amount of sports content, you must create content marketing that cuts through the noise and grabs the attention of fans. Luckily, digital media is the ideal avenue to do just that.
Among devoted sports fans, 45 percent prefer online sports news, compared to just 33 percent who still opt for televised content. In addition, 66 percent of devoted fans go online at least once per day for sports-related reasons.
Let’s look at how some of the most notable brands are reaching sports enthusiasts through content marketing:
1. They Have A Plan
“At Sports Illustrated, we plan months in advance for mega-events such as the World Cup and the Olympics,” said Richard Deitsch, writer and editor at Sports Illustrated, SI.com and TheMMQB.com.
Such planning, he said, is imperative for successful content because there are countless moving parts to coordinate, such as creators (writers, reporters, photographers), logistics (housing, credentials, etc.) and infrastructure concerns (IT, connectivity).
Most importantly on the content end: “Have a day-to-day plan blueprint well in advance – and then react when news changes it up,” explained Deitsch.
Brian Tracey, U.S. managing editor for Reuters.com, concurs. “We began our planning for the 2014 World Cup in January,” he said.
The same goes for content and social media agencies that work with sports brands. “If we’re working with a client on a campaign, this involves a lot of thought about how to best implement that client’s brand values into our coverage,” said Josh Clarke of Snack Media.
2. They Seek To Be Different
“You have to go beyond the play-by-play and instant armchair analysis,” said B.J. Schecter, executive editor for Sports Illustrated and SI.com. “For people at the games, they want a sense of the drama and the feeling of the game. For others, provide real insight and inside information.”
Deitsch uses an “additive value” approach to his content. “Speaking from a sports fan perspective, I want you to tell me things I cannot see on television. Provide me with perspective and analysis I can’t get from the broadcasters. Also, be a great curator of live content across the web. Ultimately, that’s what separates the average from the great,” he explained.
To tailor a unique approach, know the goals and desires of your audience. For example, are you filling them in, giving them perspective on a key moment or serving up humorous opinions they can use at the water cooler the next day? Choose your angle and focus accordingly.
Rachel Clarke of CNN Digital always considers her readers and their situations when creating live content. “We had a very different approach for the Oscars (when people were watching live) than the World Cup Germany game (when our audience was trapped at work and couldn’t watch the game),” she said.
3. They Have Fun
“I try to inject as much of my personality into my reporting and tweeting as possible – without getting into any trouble,” said Dan Woike, Los Angeles Clippers beat writer for the Orange County Register. “It helps readers connect with me.”
Craig Kanalley, social media manager for the Buffalo Sabres, suggests behind-the-scenes content that shows your internal teams having fun (think ESPN Sportscenter commercials).
“Anything that most fans don’t see … offers a chance to have fun with positive moments, get creative and get viewer attention,” Craig said.
The Football League’s Marc Cooper agrees. “After all,” he said, “that’s why people go to sport events, isn’t it? To have fun. We must make sure our platforms reflect that.”