There are only 30 PGA TOUR players in the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Such a small field compared to a typical PGA TOUR event can open up some fun content ideas that feature every player.

For this year’s final event, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, we enlisted the help of renowned pancake artist Saipancakes. And yes, you read that right. He’s a pancake artist. Armed with a portable griddle and an ample supply of pancake batter, we put Saipancakes to work at this season’s finale.

As he created pancake renderings of each of the 30 players in the field, we captured photos and video of the action—the perfect type of fun content for our social media channels. Many of the players got into it as well, sharing their pancake doppelgangers on their own social platforms.

The program helped generate more than 1.8 million impressions from @PGATOUR handles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. With players and other media outlets also sharing the content, that boosted exposure to 13.7 million social media impressions.

My role: Social Media Strategy & Promotion

CBS Sports was one of the media outlets that covered the pancake art story.

Twitter was one of the platforms where we published pancake art photos and video.

PGA TOUR players as pancake art

The Guardian was one of many media outlets that covered the pancake art.

This winter and spring, I lead the PGA TOUR’s Content Team in the development of the organization’s first ever immersive longform story, “The Natural.” It tells the story of Rickie Fowler’s path to the PGA TOUR, all tying back to his incredible playoff victory at the 2015 PLAYERS Championship. From the start, the story immerses the audience in the final round of the tournament, utilizing various forms of media to help transport fans there. The rest of the story weaves together other forms of media from timelines and Tweets to ambient videos and beautifully written copy.

The experience functions across breakpoints, with some slight changes between mobile, tablet and desktop. Media for each breakpoint was optimized based on the story and the technical capabilities of each platform. One of the key learnings after launching this story was how much it was viewed on mobile. Heading into the project, our expectations were that we would see a 50/50 split between desktop and mobile. Results showed consumption was far higher on mobile – 82% mobile vs. 18% desktop. This showed a few things. First, it confirms a natural discoverability happening on social platforms, which is largely driving mobile traffic back to the piece. Second, it goes against the commonly held belief that people will only read short, super digestible stories via mobile. For a compelling story, fans will spend time with longform—even on a small screen.

Some of the unique elements of the piece include parallax video (this is used with the ambient videos throughout the story), in addition to a timeline feature that brings motion into the story. The use of this timeline tool with the motion element is meant to help ground viewers in the action from the final round of last year’s PLAYERS.

The story is also sponsored, but the strategy wasn’t to go about sponsorship in a typical way. The basic banner ads or logo integrations commonly seen in longform storytelling on other sites can feel jarring in a story like this. Instead, the ads were meant to feel more connected to the story, both in terms of content and technical performance. This required a sponsor with an association with Fowler, and one that would be willing to experiment. Farmers Insurance signed on and we worked closely to ensure their ads seamlessly fit the story. We utilized parallax ads and ensured the content within these ads focused on their work with Fowler. This helped bring another element to the story as it highlighted some of the charitable activities he’s lead with Farmers.

The work that went into the story cut across disciplines and it took about four months to pull together. The project started in January of this year with a full-day creative session with our development agency, Omnigon. In that session, we worked through the broad idea and the technical elements we would need to tell the story. From there, the work of pulling together existing video, photos and social media elements began.

The final piece of the production of this story was a comprehensive promotion plan that leveraged owned media and paid media. We utilized a mix of paid platforms, focusing efforts on social media platforms, including Facebook Canvas ads. The strongest paid results came through Facebook, both on the Canvas and on the more traditional Facebook side. Fowler also helped support the story, participating in a Facebook Live chat on the day the story launched. He talked about the story in the interview (and elsewhere), helping to drive buzz around the unique piece.

We also tracked fan feedback on the piece, both through comments made on social media platforms and through a survey engine on the page. We saw strong results from the survey results with 96% of fans giving the story a four or five-star rating.

While this is the first of this kind of immersive story that the TOUR has produced, it certainly won’t be the last. We have plans to produce several more immersive longform stories this year. Each will utilize slightly different functionality, but all with same goal of bringing the fan deeper into the story, regardless of the device they’re using.

The Natural on Desktop

The Natural on Desktop

 

 

 

 

 

My role: Strategy lead over creative and ad integration

This week, the PGA TOUR reached a Facebook milestone – one million likes. About five months ago, we hit a similar milestone on Twitter – one million followers.

I’ve always said it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the engagement with the community. And that’s still a true sentiment. But these milestones are still things to celebrate because they validate the quality and creativity of the content. They validate the fact that the community has been responding well to our content and that we’ve been listening.

Since adding an Analyst to our Content Team at the PGA TOUR, we’ve made it a formal practice to constantly evaluate how our content is resonating with fans. Where we need to tweak, we tweak. Where we see an opportunity to amplify something that’s performing well, we amplify. And where we need to refrain from doing something in the future, we refrain. It’s this combination of analytics and creativity that’s pushed us to these milestones. And it’s that combination that will keep pushing us further.

This type of relationship between data and content and the way that we can track it and adjust in the moment is new to the media landscape. It’s creating new disciplines and even new career paths. And for those publishers and brands that are paying attention, it’s creating serious opportunities. As a brand that’s looking to get on the radar of new fans and to cut through old stereotypes, this is key for long-term success. This week, as we hit one of what I hope will be many more milestone to come, I’m proud to be working with and leading a team that’s embracing this approach.

facebook_1million

twitter1million

In 2014, Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez joined the Champions Tour and earned a victory his first week out. Around the same time, he also played extraordinarily well at The Masters.

In addition to playing well, Jimenez is also somewhat of a unique character, particularly in the golf world. The Spaniard is known for his flowing blonde ponytail, the signature cigar in his mouth during play and of course his love of good wine.

Inspired by Jimenez’s larger-than-life persona and his victory, we drew comparisons to the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World,” with Jimenez being the real-life version of this character. We crafted statements about Jimenez and meme-worthy graphics to go along with them. Some of the statements included: “Arnold Palmer orders the ‘Miguel Jimenez’ at restaurants”; “Trophies long to kiss him”; and “He may miss fairways but they miss him more.”

The Miguel Memes were posted to one central spot on PGATOUR.COM, along with a blank version of the photo so that fans could make their own. PGA TOUR-crafted memes were shared to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. From there, the community responded in a big way, sharing their own memes about Jimenez in comments on PGATOUR.COM and across social media. The best of the fan-created memes were gathered and shared on PGATOUR.COM.

Between the memes crafted by the PGA TOUR and the ones crafted by fans, the execution helped the TOUR to engage current fans and to reach new audiences about a player many of them hadn’t heard of. A byproduct was that people were also exposed to the PGA TOUR in a new light—and one that’s also indicative of the direction we’re heading in online.

It’s also notable that this execution earned a Cynopsis Sports Award in the “Hashtag Promotion” category.

jimenez-meme-05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My role: Content Strategy & Content Promotion

To drive more awareness around the FedExCup Playoffs, we brought an on-site Twitter experience to each of the four PGA TOUR playoff events this season. Meet the Twitter vending machine. Equipped with NFC technology, this machine gave us a unique way to interact with fans on-site, encouraging them to Tweet about the #FedExCup Playoffs and be rewarded with special prizes.

The machine traveled to each playoff event. Once on-site, fans were able to interact with the machine, responding to a question with a Tweet using a specific hashtag. The Tweet unlocked a prize from the machine, which could have included anything from an autographed pin flag or a ticket upgrade to a meet and greet with a player.

Throughout the playoffs, fans were excited to encounter the machine and the special prizes it unlocked. A few lucky fans were able to connect with some of their favorite players thanks to the Twitter vending machine experience, including Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka, Charley Hoffman and Hunter Mahan. Those fans walked away with a lifelong memory and of course the social media posts and photos to prove to friends that it happened.

The program not only generated more than 11 million impressions through fan Tweets and major media exposure, but it also delivered on a broader PGA TOUR objective—Connecting a real-world, offline experience to the online world where it could reach more people and show the TOUR in a new light.

My role: Strategy & Concept Development, Execution

Brooks Koepka meets a fan thanks to the Twitter Vending Machine at The Barclays.

Special FedExCup Playoffs prizes in the Twitter Vending Machine

Forbes was one of many media outlets that covered the vending machine program

USA Today was one of many media outlets that covered the vending machine story

Fans interact with the Twitter Vending Machine at The Barclays

One of my first projects when I joined the PGA TOUR was to work on a website redesign project. PGATOUR.COM had had the same look and basic functionality for about six years, an eternity in the digital space. During that time, consumption patterns changed. Mobile traffic was on the rise and PGATOUR.COM wasn’t mobile-friendly and thus under-serving a key and growing part of its audience. The redesign of PGATOUR.COM would tackle the mobile environment head-on, moving to a responsive design, among other notable changes.

One of the big changes was moving to a visually-driven site. The shift did a few things. For one, it created a more visual navigation that was more in line web trends and the type of mobile-friendly navigation seen on sites like Pinterest and others. But it also did more than that. It tied into an inherent part of the game. Unlike many sports that are played in same arena, golf is in a new spot every week. And those spots happen to be amazingly beautiful. We designed the site to put a spotlight on that kind of beauty.

The combination of a photography-rich site with mobile responsiveness is an interesting one—for my team in particular as the folks who are responsible with populating and updating the site. As we embarked on this new design, it meant the need for new disciplines both in how we shoot and in how we edit photos. For example, an image that’s tight on a player won’t crop well at smaller breakpoints.

At the time we relaunched, very few sites were embracing responsive design. In the sports world, in particular, we were one of the first to go in this direction. Despite having the need to balance a redesign project with a website audience that includes more traditional web users, we had to design for where the world was heading. In the time since we relaunched, we’ve only seen those mobile consumption patterns go further up.

We are also in a state of constantly updating the site. It’s never perfect but is a work in progress. The key is that the redesign gave us a strong foundation and others have agreed. In 2015, PGATOUR.COM won a “Best Website” award from Cynopsis Sports Media, beating out the likes of Bleacher Report, ESPN, Pac-12 Networks and Sports Illustrated.

Homepage before the redesign

Homepage before the redesign

before-homepage

Homepage before the redesign

Mobile version of the homepage before the redesign

Mobile version of the homepage before the redesign

afterhomepage_mobile

Mobile version of the homepage after the redesign

afterhomepage_desktop

Desktop version of the homepage after redesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My role: Digital Strategy, Content Strategy