Social Media: Maybe the PGA Tour is Not Really Ready?

by IBGS on June 6, 2011

Failure Sign Having been part of the Social Media extravaganza for the HP Byron Nelson Championship I can honestly say it was good to see the golf fans acceptance of our efforts.  However, there seems to be some concern if the PGA Tour is really ready for what Social Media can produce.  For that matter, is the PGA Tour interested in changing its view on how society has changed around them.   After thinking about it for a week, and asking a few pointed questions to a few people at The Nelson, I found there is still some work to be done on the tour’s part if they really are interested in addressing the next generation’s interest in golf.

I spent a week in the media center of the Nelson soaking in all I could on how what is seen and read in the media is produced.  What I found was simply amazing but somewhat strange to say the least.  Here is a breakdown of what I soaked in. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.

Professional Looking Cameras? HUH!

The reason you did not see very many photographs of things happening at the Nelson on my blogs is due to my professional photographer not being permitted to use her professional DSLR camera.  Why?

Well according to the PGA Tour, my producer’s DSLR Camera was not permitted because it was “Not Professional Looking” .  OK, there was explanation in the media credentials of what was allowed as far as camera equipment. I understand their requirements works well for the traditional media.  In the graphic the PGA representative showed us was a Old Styled 35mm Film SLR with a very large 500mm zoom lens on one side of the poster and a cellphone with a camera with a huge X thru it on the other side.  We made it clear we had neither of them but a more modern version of the new (very expensive) Digital handhelds with the built in digital zoom and wide angle lens.  I will say the PGA representative was impressed and remarked he had never seen one of them before…but was not deterred to make an exception to their policy.

Yes, there was a lengthy debate which our position was we were there to promote the businesses and sponsors who supported the PGA event. We made it very clear we would ONLY be taking photos in the Hospitality Suites where a Huge Camera would not be appropriate and taking photos way outside the ropes of people who where there for the business golf.  There position was based on the written rules they provided which was it.  So, as a result, we were not able to provide photos for our blog which would have been our way of helping shed a more positive light on the business supporters of the PGA Tour events.

Does the PGA need to change their rules? More than likely.  Do they need to accept social mediaist? Probably.  Do they need to modernize their overall look at who is helping them bring more value to their event? Defiantly.  Will this blog be read by anyone who can make a difference?  Hopefully, but probably not.

Twitter Envy

It is nothing new for people who do not understand Twitter to write it off as a waste of time.  However, when one of the TV media members who was viewing the Twitter feed being produced for the HP Byron Nelson on his Smartphone remarks loud enough so all the social mediaist in the media center could hear that the Twitter feed across the viewing screens on the course was a waste of time could it be it was because the attention of the viewers towards the Twitter feed took away from the TV viewing? 

The attitude amongst most of the traditional media at the Nelson did not seem to be real supportive of the social media efforts being made by a group of seasoned veterans of Golf online.  Is it because they feel if they ignore social media it will go away?  Maybe  Is social media a threat to traditional media? Probably  Will other PGA events use social media to promote the event and entertain the viewers? Only time will tell.

A New Social Awaking

The good news is out of the full seven days of social media efforts I could see first hand an increase in the number of people interested in what I do professionally.  I saw my Facebook Friends requests and Page ‘Likes’ go up over 20%.  I saw my Twitter following go up by 40% though I will have to quantify that with saying 95% of the increase was by people, places and things that have not got a clue how to use Twitter.  I saw my social media stock across the board go up 25% all during the week I was blogging, Twitting and updating my social spaces. 

I would take from what I experienced in improving my online social influence this would be what a business who uses social media effectively would experience.  The keyword in this statement is ‘effectively’.  Setting up a Facebook Page and having no reaction and developing a sterile, non-responsive, Twitter account is not ‘Effective’ Social media.

Should more of the traditional media use a more grassroots style of online social  networking instead of the high dollar journalist to post their wordsmithed thesis in their blogs? It would be a good idea.  Should more of the powers-to-be for Golf look at balancing their marketing with more natural online social networking?  They most likely should.

Still a Long Road Ahead

Change is not an each thing to do for an institution steeped in history over 400 years old.  However, in this case, change in how Golf communicates to the public, participants and fans has got to be made.  If not, PGA Tour events like the HP Byron Nelson will soon be fond  memories for many, if they are not already.

The world of golf, the business and people who are driving it, still have a long road to travel to bring golf back to its rightful place as a sport for everyone and for a lifetime.  Here is to hoping they ‘get it’ and make the change quickly.  Let me know how I can help.

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