One thing I really look forward to each spring is being part of the news media reporting from Volunteers of America LPGA North Texas Shootout. This year however had a different feel from the last two years. There were a number of things changed operationally for the set up of the event that were noticeable by the fans and those behind the scenes. Some of the changes were good, but more were worse.
This year my mission was again to report on the interesting unique aspects of the LPGA golf tournament most people have no idea goes on at these golf venues. The purpose of highlighting things that go on at a professional golf tournament was to help bring more golfers to the event to see these aspects of the event.
However, this year was a little different from the last two years. Obviously, there seemed to be some issues with the event that was not helping me win more people over to attending the event.
Attitudes – There seemed to be some sort of dark cloud hanging over the way the event was organized this year compared to the last two years. Several of my fellow members of the media made mention of not getting a Welcome feeling as they did the previous years.
Many of the people from the LPGA who worked in the media center seemed to just be going through the motions. There was no outgoingness demonstrated…no schmoozing the media with tidbits of stories developing on the course. Just a lot of dry smiles and then burying their heads into their laptops.
I was starting to take their behavior personally until one of the reporters from AP made mention to me his observations were the same treatment.
There were a few incidents reported on the way volunteers, and other on-course personnel, were treating the digital media reporters. This uncalled for behavior could have a deeper root cause than lack of adequate training. Nonetheless, the need for social media coverage of the event by local digital marketing professionals seemed to not be completely understood by the tournament organizers.
Even the clubhouse personnel had strong negative attitudes towards media with several reports made on how a number of the members of the media were denied access to rest rooms in the clubhouse and directed to use “outhouses” located on the golf course.
Lack of Marketing – One of the issues going into this year’s event had to do with there being no local social media. All online marketing was coming out of the LPGA national organization which fail far short of creating any local buzz about the event. This affected the organizers ability to enlist the needed number of volunteers for the event. which could related to why the attendance was significantly down this year.
In the study I performed two weeks before the event from over 1500 online and offline golfing friends, over 90% were not aware the LPGA North Shootout was coming to town. Even a few days before the event I was getting comments on my blog saying they were not aware of the LPGA event, or saying they just saw a commercial or comment from the Golf Channel about the event.
Seems the little social media the LPGA was producing was done in the wrong social space which resulted in any communique coming up in Google Search where most golf fans go to find golf related information.
Even in the mainstream media there seemed to be a void of, or inadequate amount of, marketing about the LPGA event. All this made it extremely difficult to attract large followings of Real Golfers.
The lack of marketing could also be why the attendance to this year’s event was so low. However, the low turnout could be also related to the LPGA event being calendared during the traditional sponsor solicitation for the two big gun PGA Tour events that follow close after the LPGA North Texas Shootout.
One the solutions to securing sponsors, volunteers and attendees to the North Texas Shootout would be to do a better job of marketing before the event. Naturally, hiring a digital marketing firm that is run by golfers would help create the local buzz in the golf community needed to spur the interest. Another solution for the LPGA to consider to help with avoiding problems would be to hire a local sports event management company who understands the community, knows where to hire locals to do the tough work and could work to market the tournament far in advance.
Sometimes changing for change sake is not the solution. Using the tools at hand to promote a local venue still makes sense. Maybe the LPGA will try that next year when they come to town.