Late in 2018, Little League International announced its new leadership structure. Perhaps the most notable executive named in the move is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Liz DiLullo Brown. Now in her 10th year with Little League, Brown becomes the organization’s first female senior executive.
In her decade with the organization, the relationship between Little League and Major League Baseball has grown significantly with the establishment and growth of the MLB Little League Classic, among other initiatives.
“MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made building a relationship with Little League a huge priority,” Brown stated. “We then worked with departments across MLB to align Little League with some of their initiatives. Our work together revolved around trying to take things like ‘Play Ball’ and message them out to our Little League audience to make sure they have an opportunity to experience the game maybe in a different environment than even in just local league play.”
To do this, Little League works with ticketing professionals at MLB to create opportunities for local players and their families go to Major League games. The hope, Brown said, is that will foster a passion for the game in Little Leaguers. Many former Little Leaguers now playing in the majors are often happy to engage and set a good example for children following in their footsteps.
“There are so many former Little Leaguers that are in the big leagues that are serving as an inspiration to our players,” Brown said. “Through getting kids to games and through our digital content, we try to highlight the great things that MLB does and those big leaguers who can be a positive influence for the youth in our program.”
Another huge aspect of Brown’s work over the past decade has been increasing Little League’s digital presence through a redesign of the organization’s website and a bigger emphasis on high-quality social media content.
Through working with ESPN, Brown and Little League get footage of the Little League World Series to use for social content during the tournament. For offseason content, Little League produces training and educational content, content about Little League alumni, and explores putting a Little League spin on trending topics.
“We always also look forward to storytelling during the regular season,” Brown said. “We go out to our local leagues and capture content of volunteers and of families and players participating. We attend spring training to try to interview former Little League alumni. We go overseas and capture what’s happening internationally with the sport. So we’re going to continue to do more of that and just be able to tell those global stories of baseball and softball — and the role that Little League has in those stories.”
While some of the children playing Little League aren’t old enough to fully embrace social media, Little League keeps pushing its content to new heights by focusing on grabbing the attention of parents.
“We know from our own research that parents influence the path of a child and pick their activities whether it’s out of convenience, opportunity, or the overall experience. So for things like Facebook, our messages are focused on the parent audience. Instagram obviously skews younger, so we’ve had some success by looking at short-form video and other content that is appealing to millennial parents or the younger generation.”
Brown is also credited as a driving force behind Little League’s partnerships with brands.
“Partnership has always been important to Little League and it’s how we are able to operate. It’s how we were able to put out specific programming that provides offers to families and leagues. Relationships like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cigna and Gatorade and others have continued to help us evolve and grow over the years.”
As the new year begins, Brown plans to expand how technology will help the organization continue to grow while improving the Little League experience for players and their families on all fronts.
“We’re always focused on helping our local leagues in different communities create a great experience for the players. We think a lot about how technology can impact that experience, so we are continuing to innovate. We have great tools like our league finder, which helps parents find a local program at any point during the year. We’ve been working really closely with some of our partners to create more solutions for registration and things like scorekeeping.”
While Brown recognizes the historic nature of her earning an SVP role, she’s approaching this new role the same way that she has others at Little League: with a collaborative attitude and a strong work ethic.
“It’s not lost on me that there’s significance in having the role I have. I’ve been here a long time and I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to be working with and mentored by folks both inside and outside the organization. More than anything, I’m excited about the opportunity that’s ahead of me. I believe in working hard and contributing to the organizational mission/goals and being able to give back.
“Very early on in my career, I had the opportunity to get involved in industry organizations and interact with both female and male leaders that gave me the time throughout my career. My goal is to be able to do more of that for others.”
Brown has already had the opportunity to mentor some young professionals in the industry. She greatly appreciates the opportunity to pay it forward after working closely with plenty of quality professionals in and out of baseball over the years. Her advice to those she mentors is to follow her lead and constantly be growing their professional network.
“Network with others as much as you can. Listen to the advice that you’re given. You might not use all of it, but take it all in and determine what helps you chart your path. It’s really important to have people that you can lean on.”