by Matt Cleary, President
When we started Sunday Group Management in 2003, social media wasn’t even a thing just yet. But even then, speedy communication was key. And now, social media communications have rapidly become a key tool in the arsenal when it comes to generating coverage for our clients.
Before Mark became “Zuck” and Jack became @jack, we often relied on direct communications (emails, calls, in-person at the track) with media members and broadcast teams to help keep the focus on our clients. But all that has changed at the speed of a tweet.
Those relationships and conversations are all still important, but social media has rapidly transformed our approach. We’ve gone from one-on-one conversations to help communicate with thousands via the broadcasts to having the opportunity to not only earn placement in the broadcasts via social media, but also with the large audiences that have engaged with our clients.
If you happen to find a way into the broadcast booth for an event that garners international attention like an IMSA or IndyCar race, you will be greeted by a dizzying amount of information. Multiple screens with timing information, the race broadcast program feeds, spotter guides, as well as a healthy stack of notebooks, media guides, and printed out press releases are the norm in there. (And depending on the length of the race, there might be a little…odor, too).
In the last few years, another monitor has been added to that mix—one that carries a Twitter feed for the broadcast team to get updates from the teams in real time. Where we once used to hand notes to reporters on pit lane to give them updates “driver is complaining of…” so they could relay that update to the booth or just give the update themself from pit lane.
Now we see those same pit lane reporters working to keep an equal eye on their Twitter feed as well as the track action as they look for tweets about “…the driver is complaining of…”
These constant updates keep us plugged in to what is going on with the team in real time. Our clients rely on us to provide timely, accurate, and relevant updates. When they entrust us with that role, they are also counting on us to authentically reflect their brand and voice.
Social media has transformed our role to be the active manager when it comes to developing a voice for each of our clients on social media.
This aspect isn’t new—our press releases have long reflected the tone and brand characteristics of each of our clients, be that a buttoned-up ‘just the facts’ report from championship-winning race organizations, to more ‘chipper’ race reports from drivers who really only care about saying how it is…even if that ruffles some feathers.
And that role continues in the social media age, as the tone we take for posts across all the platforms reflects the voice of each of our clients—in an authentic way, as they say.
In addition to using social media to keep the media updated, there is another key role that it plays for our clients, and that is building an audience.
We are charged with curating the content to help build that audience.
This is something that has proven to be an outstanding opportunity across the sport; for teams, tracks, sponsors, and anyone who is involved in the category. It’s important to generate a following that has opted in to get updates and wants to be part of the conversation with them.
Having an audience of people that care about your team, drivers, whatever it is, is important. Not only is it reflective of how you interact with the public and perform on track, it is also a key deliverable on the commercial side of the business.
If a sponsor is talking with two different teams, and one has not invested in an active social media campaign and the other has an active voice on social that has cultivated a wide following, the decision will be easy.
In addition to building that audience, it is also critical for us to maintain strong engagement rates for these social profiles. What does that mean? It means that the content that is delivered is the kind that people remember, share, and connect with. That deepens the commitment that your audience has with the brand, and is another key indicator for future growth.
In the almost two decades that we’ve been working in the sport, everything has changed.
From the technology on the track to how race fans consume the product and declare their allegiances, to the role that a media relations (and now social media…) agency like Sunday Group plays in getting the word out, there are new challenges with each breakthrough.
But the accelerated pace of communications has provided the opportunity to deliver for our clients in entirely new ways. The good news is that it works fast, and is only getting faster—something we appreciate.