Club executives came together this week to make plans for the coming season and beyond with a series of online meetings as part of the Euroleague Basketball Institute Annual Workshops.
The media directors spent several hours on Monday afternoon focused on continuing to engage fans through both club digital platforms and cooperation with traditional media outlets. They briefly reviewed what content initiatives helped boost the EuroLeague's digital audience last season before exchanging new ideas with which to attract new and younger fans going forward through bespoke storytelling and content synergies with third-party creators.
Chief among the goals discussed was the need to make the EuroLeague experience even stronger for fans returning to the arenas next season by meeting all their sports and logistical information needs while consistently adding entertainment value to each interaction.
Jenny Gravia, Media Director for Olympiacos Piraeus, appreciated the opportunity to spend time with her peers from other clubs.
“The meeting was very useful because we have a common goal with EuroLeague which is to grow the league and make more people love basketball,” she said. “We have to do that in collaboration with the league, and the meeting means we can exchange ideas and start new projects. That is a big benefit for all the teams and the league as a whole. For next season, I think fans are thirsty for basketball and want to see their idols from close distance again.”
The media directors joined Lara Toscani Weems, Head of Corporate Communications for Elevate Sports Ventures and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, in a discussion of how to manage and foment media coverage on the business side of basketball by setting priorities, training spokespeople and recognizing off-the-court storylines of interest to general and specialized media.
“Think about challenging your front office executives to think like a publicist. Train them to look critically at every partnership agreement or business initiative with an eye towards relevancy across the media and industry landscape. What makes this deal unique or significant? What new trend does this ticket sales data reflect?" Ms. Toscani Weems said. "Challenge your executives to identify, rank and share their business priorities, as well as their wish list for media placement. What does a win in earned media placement look like to your CRO? A new sponsor? What outlet will make the phone ring in the Premium Sales department? There may be circumstances where local or regional business media coverage will produce more tangible business results than national coverage - our goal is always to drive the business forward; and while doing so, stimulate and inspire the global sports industry ecosystem by sharing our team and league innovation.”
Marketing directors met on Tuesday morning to discuss how to further develop the brand of the competition and its member clubs, with a focus on digital strategies for the modern audience across Europe and the rest of the world. Ensuring the competition is based around sustainability was another point of emphasis, with a roadmap to 2030 following guidelines set out by the United Nations.
“At Fenerbahce last year we started a new era and now we want to connect our past with our future, which is why we started our #YellowLegacy hashtag last year. We will continue with this by opening a club museum and a wall of fame, and at Fenerbahce, our great strength is our digital platforms, especially social media, so we want to be more aggressive with our digital strategy to attract more partners,” stated Murat Tankut, Marketing Manager for Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
The results of consumer research carried out by Nielsen were presented, underlining that sports organizations need to think of themselves as competing with separate industries such as music, entertainment and shopping for the attention and interest of fans. The evolution of corporate partnerships and sponsorships was also on the agenda, highlighted by the need to adapt to change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday afternoon it was the turn of ticketing executives to gather as they look forward to re-opening box offices and season ticket sales for the 2021-22 season, with the focus on ensuring that fans feel safe and comfortable to return to arenas.
Several examples for best practices around the reopening were shared, led by a fan-centric approach to make fans feel important and valued. The importance of clear and consistent communication to keep fans informed and prepared to return to games was emphasized along with ideas for new ways of using technology and offering creative season ticket packages.
The meeting was joined by special guest Chris Heck, President of the Philadelphia 76ers, who offered suggestions for unique ticket selling opportunities both for season tickets and individual games. He also painted a positive picture about the attitude of fans post-pandemic, saying: “People were so eager and ready to go [to games]. With the people who were vaccinated, it was almost immediate, there was no hesitation. In fact, there was probably more frustration that they were still told to wear their masks and there were a lot of restrictions. It reached a point by the end of our season that you would not have thought the pandemic existed.”
Oren Atar, Sales Manager for Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, emphasized the importance for clubs of working hard this summer to recover the revenue they lost during a season without fans in attendance, saying: “We were probably the first country to come back to normal reality and we already had a full stadium in the beginning of the June for our domestic league finals. We sold out the whole arena to fans who were thirsty for basketball after a year and a half without their number one passion, and my immediate priority right now is to focus on selling all the season tickets for the 2021-22 season.”