Korn Ferry, PGA Tour Confident About Future Going Forward Together

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Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy-Getty Images

With a career path that’s taken her everywhere from CAA to Fenway Sports Management, Alex Baldwin was always drawn to golf. Little did she know that she would eventually become the face of change for the PGA Tour. 

After becoming president of the PGA Tour’s Web.com developmental tour in late January, Baldwin has already spearheaded massive changes. Less than five months after becoming the first female president of one of the PGA Tour’s six global tours, the Web.com tour changed sponsors. 

After signing a 10-year-deal through 2028 with Los Angeles-based global consulting firm Korn Ferry, the Web.com Tour became the Korn Ferry Tour. It was the tour’s third name change since 2003 when it was then known as the Nationwide Tour. 

“[Korn Ferry] is a business-to-business organizational consulting firm that historically worked with businesses and that’s been our game,” Korn Ferry CMO Jill Wiltfong said. “We extended our services into career coaching and working with individuals who are trying to advance along their own careers – and sports was kind of a natural way to extend our story and to tell our story.”

According to Wiltfong, Korn Ferry had fielded many calls from people around the sports industry about partnership opportunities. She says that of all the sports reaching out to Korn Ferry, golf was the most interested – and to her, the most logical. Given golf’s reputation for attracting businessmen and women to the links, she saw it as a perfect way to build its brand awareness.

From Wiltfong’s perspective, there was never any indication that Korn Ferry would work with the PGA Tour. The Web.com partnership was still in effect for the foreseeable future. When word got back to Wiltfong that the Tour was looking for a new sponsor, Korn Ferry immediately reached out – even if it had never been involved in sports. 

Despite exploring uncharted territory, the Korn Ferry-PGA Tour relationship seems to be paying off. Since June 19 – when the partnership was revealed – the Korn Ferry Tour has noticed a 60.2% increase in total social media engagements across its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles year-over-year. It’s also witnessed its total new followers and social media following rise by 4.4% and 3.8%, respectively.

While Korn Ferry Tour officials are hesitant to attribute those increases directly to Korn Ferry, Wiltfong is certain that it’s helped the firm. According to her, many were probably unfamiliar with it before its PGA Tour partnership. Since the announcement, the organization has seen a 33% increase in social media followers. It’s also experienced a 20% rise in Google searches and website visits, respectively.

To Wiltfong, the newfound social media and online interest aren’t what’s impressed her most thus far. Compared to 2018, Korn Ferry’s share of voice – which gauges brand visibility across a company’s industry – is up 400% and highlights the attention that she sought out for it. 

With these results being seen in less than three months, both Baldwin and Wiltfong are confident that with a full season in 2020 approaching, they can only get better.

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“That’s important to us to have people talking about our brand in a positive way,” Wiltfong said. “[Share of voice] is a really great metric and something that’s important to us. This is only after 10 tournaments. When we have a full season ahead of us – coming up in 2020 – we hope and expect to kind of ride the momentum and continue to see really positive results.”

“I think what’s so unique is we share such a parallel mission,” Baldwin said. “[Korn Ferry is] an organizational consultant that is committed to providing people opportunity and providing individuals and organizations kind of the platform to realize their highest potential – it’s about advancement. They talk a lot about advancing and [the Korn Ferry Tour is] so aligned from a purpose perspective and a mission – and we literally are just scratching the surface with them.”

For Baldwin, she was more than satisfied with where she was professionally. Entering 2019, she was known for her role as vice president of marketing partnerships with the PGA Tour. She had no expectations for promotion, and was just happy to be involved with a company led by commissioner Jay Monahan.

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Unbeknownst to Baldwin, she would eventually be handed the role of a lifetime. On Jan. 29, she was named President of the-then Web.com Tour. After her first season at the helm ended on Sept. 2, more women like Baldwin are reaching new heights in sports. With the recent hires of Jessica Berman and Cathy Engelbert, Baldwin is another female face at the center of a men’s professional sports league – even if it came unexpectedly.

“I’m just so humbled and so flattered to have the opportunity [of being president],” Baldwin said. “When I was asked, I was surprised. I was certainly curious and it is something I take very seriously. I’m very proud to work here at the PGA Tour. We have truly an exceptional team and I’m proud of each of every one of them and so grateful for the passion that they have. I want to just continue to deliver for those folks every single day and take this tour to the next-highest ground.”