Each Tuesday on our Twitter account (@3ptproductions), we post a #TuesdayTip relevant to the sports marketing and production industry. Our goal is to share best practices with game directors, producers and stage managers across the country.
Teams and organizations are always searching for theme night ideas that are reliable in producing single game ticket sales. By adding pre and/or post game events, you'll attract fans that might not attend otherwise. There are few better ways to spend a nice summer night than out enjoying America's pastime with friends and family, which provides a great group sales opportunity.
Anyone who has taken on the challenge of programming an entire season can understand that the planning you did in the preseason isn't enough. Utilize your team's travel periods to regroup and add entertainment elements to your upcoming theme nights. Take time to refresh some of your PA reads, build new promotional elements and develop new presentation content. Always stay open to incorporating new ideas to your game presentation, you never know when a great idea may arise.
A great example of enhancing a tradition comes from our fan experience consulting project with the University of Washington. During the 3rd quarter break of every Husky football game, they honor a Husky football legend. In years past, the legend was staged in one of the end zones with his family and after playing some highlights and having the PA announcer read about their past achievements, the legend would step forward and wave to the crowd. It's a great tradition. But it lacked a big ending - a moment. So, in addition to adding audio cues and dressing up the shot with cheerleaders, we enhanced the tradition by having the legend step forward, wave and then gave them a football to autograph and throw into the student section. The students go crazy and it provides a rockstar moment for the legend as they exit the field with their family to a standing ovation. We didn't change the element, we enhanced it and looked for a creative way to enhance the fan experience while honoring a school tradition.
The more we travel and participate in several collegiate athletics conferences, the more I hear about game directors having challenges with incorporating a sports DJ into their game presentation, specifically working in conjunction with the school band. My answer to this is fairly simple. First, it's important that you're hiring a sports DJ and not a club DJ. Often, I find that's a common issue. Make sure your DJ understands the rules and expectations for each sport they are running audio for. Second, utilize headset communication with both the DJ and the band director because it's hard to cue elements without communication systems. Next, come up with a clear plan when the DJ should play music and when the band should play. Assign timeouts and breaks in the action in the same manner. In late game scenarios, you may lean toward the DJ to build a moment. Or if you have a timeout that calls for a more neutral tone, let the band take it. There are times in every game where the director will need to decide what is best for the moment.
Capturing and highlighting your city's culture as part of your game presentation is essential to building a true home court or home field advantage. Integrate local heritage into areas like the team intro video, highlight local bands in your music selections and weave imagery of your city and region into other creative content. Fans have pride in their cities and sports provide them a place to show their pride and passion. Highlighting fan passion and providing them the forum to display it creates the advantage.
Having your game night staff dress up and participate in theme night activations is a best practice for all levels of sports production. Not only is it fun, but it reinforces the theme to your fan base and will ultimately encourage them to confidently participate and be creative. The photo above was taken during the 40th Anniversary season of the Seattle Sonics on 90's Night. We celebrated the pop culture of each decade with a string of decade themed nights starting with the 1960's. I'm dressed as half of the 90's child hip-hop duo, Kris Kross (second from left) while Patrick Walker (second from right) is sporting an orange tuxedo made famous from the 90's blockbuster hit, Dumb and Dumber. We dressed up for each theme night and received great feedback from the fans as well as Mark Cuban who requested a photo with our Game Ops team on 70's Night.
Year after year, I run into the same challenge with player song requests. The lyrics, even on the edited versions, are too explicit to play. As an alternative, I download the instrumental versions of the songs and use them as music beds for PA announcements that take place during formal player warm-up periods. I touched on this subject in my recent Sports DJ Sound Off blog entry and even provided specific song examples.
Whether you're brainstorming on marketing, sponsorship activation or game presentation elements, take a small sample size of co-workers from each department and conduct a brainstorm. You'll be shocked at the different perspectives each department will bring and you'll likely create a stronger and more collaborative relationship by understanding the values of each group. Remember, every idea in a good brainstorm can be shaped into a good idea. Sometimes one idea can spark a series of ideas from somebody else. Be open to everything and encourage all forms of participation.