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How 3 Prospects Grew Their Personal Brands off the Field Before the NFL Combine

The INFLCR content delivery software platform helps clients distribute their internally curated content into personalized galleries on mobile devices.

Front Office Sports

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(*INFLCR is a Proud Partner of FOS)

Josh Allen entered the 2018 college football season with a big goal: Help the University of Kentucky make history, and in the process, solidify himself as one of the nation’s top players and top NFL draft prospects going into the Feb. 26-March 4 NFL Combine.

That was on the field.

Off the field, Allen had big goals too. Among them was to leverage his time in the Southeastern Conference spotlight to grow a larger following on social media.

And that is where Influencer (INFLCR) became a valuable tool for Allen and Kentucky teammates like Benny Snell.

The INFLCR content delivery software platform helps clients like Kentucky football distribute their internally curated content into personalized galleries on each of the mobile devices of their athletes, coaches and other brand ambassadors, for them to access and share via their personal social-media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Clients like Kentucky can then use their INFLCR dashboard and usage reports to track their “audience lift” via the much larger collective audience of those brand ambassadors.

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BBN, CAPTION THIS FOR ME!!!!!!!!

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Allen began the 2018 season with about 6,700 followers on Instagram. But with the help of some coaching from a new relationship he struck with INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale — one of the nation’s leading experts on personal branding — and access to great content produced by Kentucky via the INFLCR mobile app, Allen ended his senior season with more than 34,600 followers on Instagram — an increase of 416 percent.

“I love the INFLCR app,” Allen said. “Before INFLCR, you might have to wait two weeks to get a picture. But with the INFLCR app, all the pictures are right there. You never have to ask for your pictures. Having everything at the tip of your fingers instead of having to ask someone is awesome.”

Teammate Benny Snell also saw a dramatic rise in his personal brand as he became Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher on the field and increased his Instagram following off the field from 25,200 to 90,400 during the course of the season.

“It is clear from our metrics that delivering content to the student-athletes via the INFLCR app helps them grow their personal brands,” Cavale said. “But the important thing to remember is that this is happening within the context of the team brand. Empowering your athletes to tell their stories on social media, using the great content the team is already investing significant time and money to create, is a win-win ‘rising tides lift all boats’ situation for the athlete and the team.”

Sharing content with its student-athletes and other brand ambassadors paid off in big ways for the team, too. Programs like Kentucky reached millions of additional viewers on social media by delivering content to their student-athletes.

It was clearly a mutually beneficial relationship.

On average, Kentucky student-athletes saw their personal Instagram followings grow by 38 percent during the course of the season, and overall athlete brand growth grew by an astounding 57 percent. But Kentucky wasn’t the only INFLCR client to see its student-athletes experience significant personal-brand growth while enjoying easy access to team content.

INFLCR looked at the Instagram numbers for five clients during the season: Auburn and Kentucky from the SEC, Miami from the ACC, UAB from Conference USA and Troy from the Sun Belt. All five saw their student-athletes grow their following substantially while sharing content produced by the school. The clients then could measure the additional audience they reached through this activity via INFLCR’s dashboards and regular client success reports.

Miami, for example, reached more than 2.8 million additional social media viewers with content shared by its student-athletes to their personal accounts via INFLCR during the season. On average, Miami student-athlete Instagram accounts grew by 28 percent during the season, while Auburn came in at 27 percent. UAB student-athlete accounts grew followings by 18 percent, while Troy check in at a 12-percent increase.

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It get greater later 4️⃣🙌🏾 #EndurePain

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Miami senior defensive back Jaquan Johnson grew his Instagram audience more than 15 percent, topping 22,600 followers on the platform.

“I love to give out my story,” Johnson told INFLCR at the Senior Bowl, where he was one of more than 80 participating athletes who accessed content produced by the All-Star Game and shared via INFLCR through an innovative partnership. “I love to post inspirational quotes and the things I live by. With the INFLCR app, it’s easy to access pictures and get them out to the media.”

Johnson was a big fan of how easy INFLCR made it to tell his story using content produced and distributed by Miami’s creative staff.

“As soon as we get into the locker room, you can see the entire team going to the app looking for good-looking pictures that we can post. I was able to access pictures immediately, right away, pictures that I didn’t think I would have access to. With the app I was able to post immediately and show the fans my life.”

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Miami Hurricanes Leverage Technology To Prepare For Actual Hurricanes

Teamworks helps college administrators communicate quickly and efficiently in times of crisis — exactly when it’s needed most.

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(*Teamworks is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma swept through Florida and other states along the eastern seaboard. At 350 miles wide with winds that reached 185 miles per hour, Irma was the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade. This storm was particularly dangerous but, no matter the severity, schools and athletic departments in the southeastern United States understand that every natural disaster comes should be treated with urgency. Emergency preparedness plans are vital for these institutions to promote safety and mitigate damage when it arrives.

The Hurricanes were ready for the weather system from which they took their name. In August 2017, UM partnered with Teamworks department-wide, making Teamworks part of daily life for athletes to connect with their team. In times of emergency, UM coaches and administrators can leverage the app to send mass messages and users can find up-to-date contact information for staff and student-athletes from any device. That ease of communication could save lives.

In the weeks prior to the storm, UM’s staff realized that accounting for all student-athletes and staff would be crucial. So when early weather reports indicated the true severity of Irma, they set to work plugging all of their student-athletes and staff members into the system.

READ MORE: Mississippi State Volleyball Camps Run Efficiently While Building for the Program’s Future

“We had agreed that summer to go completely across the board with Teamworks as a department,” recalls UM deputy athletic director and chief operations officer Jenn Strawley. “We were in the process of uploading all the information and being able to use it as a communications mechanism across the board when Irma was coming through. Through Craig Anderson’s leadership and the assistance of the wonderful folks at Teamworks, we were able to get that done.”

It proved vital when Irma arrived. Every student-athlete’s contact information was stored in the database. UM then had a way of communicating effectively and quickly with all of them when the storm made landfall. Administrators made the decision to temporarily cancel classes and home athletic events while giving the order for campus to evacuate. By strategically utilizing all communication tools at their disposal, they were also able to ensure student and staff safety. Each student-athlete could easily respond, letting their coaches and administrators know that they were safe. While the university itself sustained some physical damage, every student-athlete and staff member was safe and accounted for following the storm.

Administrators devised a plan of evacuation and were able to send it to each evacuee instantly. UM organized all of their contacts into groups, including a group of student-athletes and staff members who were evacuated from campus. Several dozen student-athletes and staffers did not have a safe place they could quickly evacuate to of their own accord. For that reason, UM offered them transportation to and housing in Orlando.

Each athletic team also was in its own group within the app, all executive staff were in a group, all coaches were in a group, and all student-athletes were in a group. UM gave all constituents the power to keep tabs and check in on one another during the emergency.

“Having all these people in the system meant we could deliver messaging in whatever groups we needed to with the most effective way (either email or text message), which enabled us to get to folks as quickly as we needed to,” says Strawley. “It gave us a mechanism for student-athletes to respond that they were safe. We were able to go team by team and sport by sport and ensure that all of our people were safe once the storm passed. We could then actually put together a report that said each of our student-athletes and staff were accounted for.”

For the future, coaches and administrators are able to add new athletes to the system so that they can be easily reached and kept in the loop. This way, when the next emergency arises, getting everyone to safety is significantly easier.

College athletics is not simply about wins and losses. Coaches and administrators have a responsibility to be sure that student-athletes are safe and looked out for in times of crisis. Ultimately, good communication and a little help from Teamworks allowed the Miami Hurricanes to do this during this particularly harrowing chapter in the school and city’s history.

To learn more about how Teamworks helps empower the sports world’s best, visit Teamworks.com today.

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How Niagara University Prepared A Ticket Rep For Her First Full-Time Job

Niagara University’s sport management program helped Tara Hanson land a job in her dream career field and taught her valuable skills along the way.

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(*Niagara University is a Proud Partner of FOS)

The master of science in sport management program at Niagara University gives students the opportunity to take the next step in their sport industry career. Many a Niagara graduate have even received the skills and training they need to land their first full-time role in their chosen subsection of the sports industry.

This was the case for 2018 graduate Tara Hanson, now an account executive for group sales at the Memphis Redbirds, an MiLB affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Hanson has been at her current position for almost two months after graduating from Niagara in December. Her graduation lined up perfectly, timing-wise, to pursue a dream career in baseball.

“Right before graduation I was trying to put my name and my resume out there as much as possible,” Hanson recalls. “So I applied to a few listings online, and Memphis was one of the first ones that got back to me. They seemed very interested in me, and I liked the atmosphere. I got a really good feeling from the team.”

Hanson grew up immersed in sports and was a college softball player in her undergraduate career at Shepherd University in West Virginia.  A career in sports was a natural next step.

“I couldn’t imagine not working in either baseball or golf after growing up and being around those two sports all of the time,” Hanson says.

Hanson was recruited to play golf at Niagara out of high school but decided to play and study elsewhere at the last minute. She kept tabs on the sport management Master’s program, however, and reached out to Niagara’s faculty shortly after her undergraduate career ended.

“I could tell that they really cared about their students,” Hanson says. “So I decided that I had to give it a chance and see what they had to offer.”

Hanson believes Niagara helped her grow as a professional thanks to individual attention from the faculty and on-the-job learning opportunities the program afforded her access to.

READ MORE: Niagara University Prepared Chris Norman for a Role With the UFC

“I got a lot out of the program thanks to the small class sizes. All the professors involved in the program were very hands-on,” Hanson says emphatically. “I got an opportunity to intern with the Iowa Cubs last summer thanks to some encouragement from the faculty, and that was a great experience. I also had a part-time position in the box office with the Buffalo Bills through a partnership that the university had with the team.”

Now a full-time employee in Memphis, Hanson looks forward to continuing to grow in her new role.

“I’m just trying to learn as much as possible, and everybody here at the Redbirds has been so accommodating when it comes to that. I ask a lot of questions, and they have answered every one so far. I’ve already learned so much in the short time that I’ve been here.”

An approachable personality is a key element to success in the sales world. Hanson says she is friendly by nature she, but also credits Niagara for helping develop that quality even further.

“Niagara definitely heightened my personable nature in that they really helped me understand how important it is to have that within the sports industry,” Hanson says. “Niagara helped prepare me for the nuances of the sport industry and how it differs from the rest of the business world.”

Ultimately, Hanson believes her experience at Niagara helped her start her career off on the right foot, and recommends the master’s program highly to anyone considering a graduate education specific to sports.

“When it comes to Niagara, you can’t beat how much they care,” she says. “I was only there for a year-and-a-half, but I feel like I got more attention and guidance than from any other teacher or professor that I have had in my life. I still chat with some of my professors now from time to time. I wouldn’t trade the connections that I made there for the world.”

For more information on Niagara’s Master of Science in Sport Management program, visit the website. Also consider attending Graduate Studies Spring 2019 Open House on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

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INFLCR and USA Today’s IMAGN Team Up to Deliver Content to the Hands of Athletes

The goal of the partnership is to give athletes real-time access to high-quality content on their mobile devices.

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Jim Cavale (Left) and Bruce Odle (Right) shortly after signing their new agreement.

(*INFLCR is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Mario Balotelli set the Internet on fire last week when he took to Instagram to celebrate his goal.

Just over 16 years since Joe Horn brought out a cell phone in celebration, Balotelli’s move showcased how both technology and athlete’s leverage has changed.

INFLCR and IMAGN (part of the USA Today network) hope to take advantage of this trend.

Thanks to a new partnership between the two, INFLCR clients will be able to have access to national media content in an on-demand format.

For INFLCR CEO Jim Cavale, the deal represents the continued evolution of the 18-month-old company and an opportunity to empower its growing athlete user network that includes the likes of future pro athletes like Josh Allen and Zion Williamson. This deal allows INFLCR to engage these athletes from the time they are in school to all the way to when they take the field or court for their professional careers.

“Many of the athletes that are using the platform to access internally-curated content produced by our client schools, are going to go on to play their sport professionally,” said Cavale. “We want to make sure that we continue to have a relationship with them through delivering national media of their pro career, and this partnership with IMAGN allows us to do just that.”

Read More: How 3 Prospects Grew Their Personal Brands off the Field Before the NFL Combine

Not only is the deal about the future, it’s about the present, too.  The combined forces of the two companies give athletic departments more resources at their disposal, something that Blake James, athletic director for INFLCR client University of Miami, sees as a bonus for both his staff and Miami’s student-athletes.

“Possessing the editorial rights to national media content in an on-demand format both during and immediately after our athletics events is a big value-add for our team staff and student-athletes to access through INFLCR and share to their social media channels in real-time,” James said.

Although the two parties just recently announced the partnership, some athletes and clients have already had the chance to see what it can do in action.

For example, at this year’s NFL Combine, 136 of the competing athletes leveraged the partnership to download and post more than 300 total pieces of content shot by IMAGN and delivered in personalized galleries through the INFLCR app. This will continue for the more than 2500 INFLCR college athlete users as they ascend to the professional ranks.

One of those athletes was Jarrett Stidham, the former Auburn quarterback and NFL Draft hopeful who has used INFLCR since his sophomore season at Auburn

Stidham, who used the platform in college, sees it as an opportunity not only for him but also for other players to truly own the moment when it comes content around their games and competitions.

“These are moments that we work really hard for and we want these moments captured,” Stidham said. “Whether it’s the last touchdown in the Iron Bowl or whatever it may be, being able to capture certain moments and being able to share certain moments is what it’s all about. Going into the pros and being able to have this at the swipe of my finger is so convenient.”

Like Cavale, Stidham and James, IMAGN President Bruce Odle sees the partnership as a way to solve one of the bigger problems in what he calls a “broken system.”

“Because of the explosion of social media, the interest of athletes to post images of themselves in a performance context is high, but there are no easy or legitimate means for them to do it,” Odle said. “Many athletes end up scraping an image published on a website somewhere, opening them up for a copyright infringement liability and ultimately not giving the photographer credit for their work.”

Odle has been a longtime advocate for a solution like INFLCR, and for years, believed that IMAGN was just one piece of the puzzle away from having something that not only athletes could take advantage of but celebrities too. He believes INFLCR is that missing piece.

“To make this work, there are two elements. There is the platform and there is the content,” he said. “If you can connect the dots in a way that is intentional and a way that will help both parties, everyone will benefit from the process.”

While Cavale sees the opportunity as an evolution of the business, Odle views the partnership as something created by the shift in media attention from linear channels to social accounts on platforms controlled by the athletes and influencers themselves.

READ MORE: SEC Powerhouses Use Tech to Help Student-Athletes Build Their Brand

And while it might be a shift, being able to play by the rules will prove pivotal for future success.

“Social media platforms have enabled all consumers to be their own personal publisher by creating an ecosystem that is akin to a publishing environment,” said Odle. “That doesn’t mean they can’t follow the rules. Thanks to this deal, we are giving people, specifically athletes the opportunity to play by the rules while leveraging the amount of content we have.”

Just like we’ve evolved from a phone call on a flip phone to a video celebration posted on IG, INFLCR and IMAGN hope that they can deliver a solution that brings an industry from stolen images with watermarks to high-quality, on-demand content.

(*INFLCR is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

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