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How a New Alliance of Companies Aims to Maximize Athlete-Driven Content

The trio of athlete media and marketing platforms converge to use their strengths in tandem to provide a more comprehensive outline for athlete media campaigns.

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Photo credit: opendorse

(opendorse is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.)

Today’s athletes play within a world that craves content at an ever-growing rate. They just so happen to exist in a time when social media is rapidly expanding and has vastly evolved since tweets, posts, and shares were being touted as part of the new communication boom.

And yet, professional athletes have still been trying feverishly to figure out the correct content strategy to follow, or they have turned to untrusted third parties to broker sponsorship deals.

Luckily, for a fortunate crop of athletes, they will be able to benefit from a full rendering of player-driven social platforms.

This week, Australian-based athlete media and marketing platforms PlayersVoice and Pickstar are joining forces with U.S.-founded opendorse to help jointly promote and educate the market on the Athlete Generated Media category (AGM).

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Monetizable Social Assets With Jonah Ballow

While each company aims to help athletes on social, they all serve distinct functions that help contribute to a well-rounded social dynamic. According to opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence, the different roles that each company plays will ultimately allow the trio to maximize each other’s core strengths.

“All three of these companies will be moving at once all together,” said Lawrence. “The most digital-savvy athletes are getting requests from the top sponsors and brands to partner with them. This fluid partnership will allow for athletes’ content to be more forward facing and seamlessly integrated than ever before.”

The companies will all work together to maximize content flow. PlayersVoice celebrates elite athletes — and in partnership with them, have built the new home for rich and raw sports storytelling.

PickStar works with aligning with brands and companies to help forge campaigns that are a natural fit for today’s athlete. The site helps to facilitate athletes to be utilized as guest speakers, social influencers, on-site marketing analysts and more. The partnership between these three companies will generate even more relationships for PickStar to work with in order to maximize opportunities for athlete involvement.

Opendorse helps to facilitate the infrastructure to help athletes publish content from partners. The platform exists to help athletes publish content easily and seamlessly. In turn, it allows players to be more accessible and engaging with their fans. With real-time analytics being supplied, the company also allows for partners to see up-to-date results on how their content is performing, thus helping them to stay up to date on their social strategies.

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Talking Paid Social With Angela Welchert

Essentially, PlayersVoice is on the forefront of athlete-led content creation, PickStar is providing a marketplace to match athletes with brands, while opendorse is serving as a behind-the-scenes content distribution platform. With these three media companies working in tandem, it allows for growth towards athlete-driven media and more authentic content being created.

According to Lawrence, the process of aligning with the Australia-based companies was a natural fit.

“The process was forged over the last few months,” said Lawrence. “The three of these companies all shared a common vision as the goal is to work together to maximize athlete success. We shared a united front during the building process. It allows for each of us to specialize in what we each do best under one common mission.”

For these companies, the timing aligned well to come together and help to grow the current and future athletic superstars while also acting as agents of evolution and forward thinking within the social media landscape.

“It’s a challenging task ahead,” said Lawrence. “Yet it is a strong example of the maturation of the market, where it is big enough that you don’t necessarily have to do all of the things yourself. We’ve got two partners in this alignment who specialize in their field of athlete-driven social media. I’m excited what this means for our industry.”

(opendorse is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.)

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Game Changer MVP’s ‘Filter Fan Cam’ Ramps Up PBR’s In-Arena Atmosphere

PBR began using Game Changer MVP’s fan cam last year — and this year, you’ll be able to catch the Fan Cam at every event in the Unleash The Beast series.

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Photo credit: PBR

(*Game Changer MVP is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of camera-integrated apps like Snapchat and Instagram is playing with filters.

Game Changer MVP brings this fun to sporting events on a larger scale with its “Filter Fan Cam” technology. Cameras at a given event film the faces of fans and the video feed runs through a computer where the fan filters are applied and broadcast onto the arena’s jumbotron.

Professional Bull Riders (PBR) began using Game Changer MVP’s fan cam last year in Las Vegas — and this year, you’ll be able to catch the Fan Cam at each of the 26 events in the Unleash The Beast series throughout the country.

PBR Arena Video Director Kelly McCommons attests that the Fan Cam has helped bring a great level of energy into arenas full of bull riding fans.

READ MORE: Game Changer MVP Offers Unique In-Stadium Media for Australia’s KFC BBL

“It really it brings a lot of attention to the jumbotron in a way that is new and exciting for a lot of our fans,” McCommons states. “It’s a really great way to get people to interact with our content and our own custom filters that Game Changer is able to provide for us. We love it because it gets the fans engaged.”

McCommons also sees potential in the tool to integrate it into sponsorship packages in the future.

“I think it’s a great tool that eventually will play a part in our sponsorships because it is one of the most interactive things that we do and it gets people’s attention pretty quick. It really gives a chance for us to showcase the names of potential sponsors recognized on the screen with something that’s very cool and interactive.”

Because Game Changer’s technology is easily portable and straightforward, McCommons and the video team are able to integrate within all the different arenas that the Unleash the Beast Series travels to.

In doing so, they catch the eye of fans and tech professionals alike.

“We travel to different venues all over the country, but we travel with our own LED screens. Sometimes we use the in-house screens depending on how good they are. But we get a lot of different markets that don’t have the technology that this software brings to the table. So we get a lot of interaction from different people around the country who have not seen this type of technology before that are really engaged by it and very surprised by it.”

As a partner of Game Changer MVP, PBR works closely with COO Matt Coy to make sure the Fan Cam continues to work seamlessly and add to the fun of the event.

“They’ve been great over email as well as over the phone,” McCommons states. “They come out to events when they can and they’re very responsive on new projects that we’re working on and any changes we need for content or graphics. They’ve been awesome since the start.”

For more on how Game Changer MVP is leading the charge in high-quality in-stadium media, visit its website here. You can also schedule a demo by calling 1-800-464-9445.

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Managers on a Mission Gave an Equipment Manager a Lifelong Network

Participants make connections with the people they serve alongside as part of MOAM — and this certainly was the case for TSU’s equipment manager.

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Photo credit: Managers on a Mission

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of FOS)

In the nearly six years since the organization’s beginning, Managers on a Mission (MOAM) has been giving young people within the sports world opportunities to grow professionally and spiritually through service projects all over the United States as well as the world.

In nearly all cases, participants make lasting connections with the people they serve alongside, as well as learn valuable lessons about what a career in sports entails. This was the case for Andrew Johnson, an alumnus of MOAM and now head equipment manager at Texas State University.

Johnson graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2013, where he became an equipment manager for the football team. While working as an equipment manager for the New York Jets in 2014, Johnson heard of MOAM’s work through the organization’s founder, Drew Boe. At first unsure of whether he would be a good fit for the program as a post-grad, Johnson eventually applied and accompanied MOAM on a mission trip to Malawi in the summer of 2017.

“The experience of the trip was awesome,” Johnson describes. “You go there thinking at first that you’re going to have this huge impact in the life of the kids, but they teach you as well and you end up leaving as this totally new person. My biggest takeaway is just how awesome it is to be able to work with people that are from totally different backgrounds as us. These people obviously don’t have the same resources as most Americans. So it’s an uphill battle from day one for them, but they keep the faith and they do what it takes to make it.”

READ MORE: How MOAM Gave a Basketball Coach a Whole New Perspective

In addition to leading daily prayer and devotions of faith, Johnson and company led local children in daily games including basketball, volleyball, soccer, and American football. They accomplished this despite a significant amount of their equipment going missing upon arrival. Ironically, this inadvertently helped teach Johnson the biggest lesson he learned while in Malawi.

“The trip taught me the importance of being able to adapt on the fly and do what you need to do to make it in that situation,” Johnson states. “When we first got to Malawi, half our luggage was lost. So we just had to make do and change our schedule because we didn’t have our equipment. You never know what hand your going to be dealt during a game or in life, but you have to adjust on the fly and take care of it and keep the faith.”

Since returning from the trip, Johnson still regularly finds time to connect with the other participants from his mission trip as well as other contacts he has made through Managers on a Mission.

“Everybody that’s ever been on a trip is in this group chat,” Johnson explains. “In addition to things like prayer requests, we also try to connect people in the group that are looking for jobs with open opportunities that we know of. Every major sport at all different levels is represented. For a young person in the industry, it is a great way to branch out and grow professionally.”

During his travels, Johnson will often chat with these contacts in person and occasionally try to help recruit new participants for the program.

“I still donate and anytime I see them at a convention, I’ll stop by the booth for a little bit. I gained so many lifelong friends and business connections through MOAM. It’s just an amazing group of people.”

In addition to still frequently communicating with his colleagues in MOAM, Johnson hopes to lead a domestic service trip sometime in the near future. For any young professionals considering applying for a Managers on a Mission project, Johnson doesn’t think you will regret it.

“If you’re nervous about leaving the country or being away from home, MOAM will make sure you’re ready to go. They’re not going to send you if you’re not ready to go. If you feel that you’ve been called to do this, take that step and give it a shot.”

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of FOS)

Deadline to apply for the summer trips is March 1! Applications for the 2019 summer mission trip can be submitted here. Potential applicants should contact MOAM Director of Discipleship Seth Ralston at sralston@managersonamission.org with any further questions.

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Inside the Atlanta Falcons’ Social Media Presence With Kyle Benzion

Throughout all of their content, the Atlanta Falcons utilize three different hashtags that each play their own part in telling the team’s story.

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Photo via @AtlantaFalcons

(*Team Infographics is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Here are two things that are difficult — but essential — to achieve in sports social media: Establishing a balance in tone, and capturing the voice of the home city. In recent years, one of the best examples of doing both can be found in the Atlanta Falcons’ social presence.

To show how they have achieved this, Falcons’ social media coordinator Kyle Benzion provided some insight. For starters, the Falcons’ Twitter account reaches a nice balance between humor/clever copy and emotional storytelling.

“We really focus on creating a balance between what our audience wants and what our football team represents,” Benzion says. “Everything we do starts from insights. Our goal is to understand what our fans are feeling and then develop content and share news that they are interested in. Whether it means being the source of the news, interacting with other teams or brands, pumping up one of our players, or creating strong emotional videos, there are always insights that are tied to our decision making.”

This past season, the Falcons put forth another example of their strong storytelling abilities with the Falcons’ remix of “Welcome To Atlanta.” The team released the song and video at the start of the 2018 season to get fans excited about the upcoming year.

“The Falcons remix of ‘Welcome To Atlanta’ illustrated the strong connection between the city of Atlanta, the fans and the football team, but it wasn’t just a song about the football team,” Benzion clarifies. “Although it represented the continued growth of the Falcons Brotherhood and what this team can become, it was really a song about the city of Atlanta. The words embrace the past, yet, similar to the team’s mindset, are also focused on owning the future.”

Benzion goes on to credit team leadership for establishing a path for the social team to connect with fans as opposed to being transactional both with the “Welcome To Atlanta” video and with other social campaigns.

“We’re always encouraged to think big, really big,” Benzion adds. “In this case, it took a ton of planning from a variety of members throughout our organization. Everyone had to be on the same page to pull off a season launch like this. The video was the most shared video on Facebook in professional sports the first half of September and it was an incredibly fun and rewarding project to be a small part of.”

For in-game content, the social team keeps fans updated with scoring-drive motion graphics that it creates hand in hand with Team Infographics.

“Team Infographics is a great company to work with,” Benzion testifies. “I originally worked with Team Infographics when I worked for the Nebraska Huskers. I really liked what they were able to bring to game day and their fantastic customer service. We have worked directly with Team Infographics for two years and they have been nothing short of incredibly responsive and easy to work with. We look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Throughout all of their content, the Falcons utilize three different hashtags that each play their own part in telling the team’s story: #InBrotherhood, #RiseUp, and #TogetherWeRise. Benzion explains the thinking behind these.

“#InBrotherhood, #RiseUp, and #TogetherWeRise live simultaneously but each carry their own equity. #RiseUp is a call to action or a rallying cry that represents what Falcons do. #InBrotherhood represents the relentless spirit in which we work for each other, support each other and fight for each other on the field. Each equity allows us to bring the team, the city and the fans closer together in different ways.”

#InBrotherhood was originally created during the team’s 2016 playoff push that ended with a Super Bowl appearance. Our goal was to create something that helped bring the football team together with the city and the fans.

“For the Falcons and Head Coach Dan Quinn, “Brotherhood” is not just a word we toss around, but rather a way of life and something the team strives for every day,” Benzion adds. “Our entire city was able to relate to the traits that the ‘Brotherhood’ representes such as toughness, grit, hard work, and getting back up again and again no matter the circumstance.” 

One unique undertaking for the Falcons’ social team in the last year has been promoting the opening of Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which the Falcons call home. Benzion and company consider themselves fortunate to help tell the venue’s story alongside digital team members dedicated solely to the stadium’s channels.

As Benzion puts it, “Making people fall in love with a place requires a different strategy than falling in love with our team; but it’s not hard to do with the world-class technology, architecture and community connection that our owner, Arthur Blank, has built. During the lead-up to the opening of the stadium, we worked hand in hand with our communications team, dropping monthly time lapses, drone videos, and other stadium ‘firsts’ or reveals that were always incredibly high-performing pieces of content. Any new news on the stadium, fans loved. It was very unique because it allowed us to break out of our usual NFL fan base and reach completely new audiences.”

At the end of the day, Benzion believes that in order to achieve a high ranking digital position in the NFL is to avoid having a one-dimensional skill set.

“My biggest advice to a college student that hopes to be in my position one day would be to be multidimensional. Be great at what you do. Be a master of it and have a variety of skillsets. The more you can do, the harder it is for a potential employer to say ‘no’. If you can do graphics, video, social insights and analytics, photos and write, you are setting yourself up for success.”

(*Team Infographics is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

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