“Don’t sacrifice the in-game moment for something that’s supposed to happen at that time. That’s my philosophy behind it,” said Greg Herbert, Assistant Director of Marketing for University of Kentucky Athletics.
Herbert is a sports production veteran whose passion for storytelling, focus on fan engagement, and progressive approach to gameday production has helped build up one of the strongest, most loyal fanbases in college sports — Big Blue Nation.
On this episode of #Storyteller, Herbert takes us through his entertaining path into sports, his philosophy on gameday production, and how the Kentucky Athletics department has kept Big Blue Nation engaged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advice for those looking to work in sports:
“The amount of hours you put in, and the passion that you put in is great, but at the same time, it’s a business. You’re trying to make money. You’re trying to build an experience that people want to spend their extra dollars on to come see one of your events. You’ve gotta be more than a fan. You’ve gotta take it from a business perspective.”
On how Kentucky Athletics approached fan engagement amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“It was a nice challenge for us to be able to take a step back from the grind of producing all the events we normally do and be able to get creative with engaging fans from home and using social media in a way that we always thought about doing, but just with time constraints it kind of got left on the back-burner.”
On the approach to gameday production with limited fans in the stadium:
“We wanted it to be that when you got to a game it felt as normal as possible in an abnormal time. Obviously, there was added communication making sure fans were being safe and doing what they’re supposed to do, but that was huge for us. We spent months on how we wanted to make it so that you wanted to come to a game, and that first game you came to — that was the biggest event we’ve ever had.”
On tactics to incorporate sponsors within the stadium:
“With where the world is at right now, sponsorship activation is down, so using Tagboard to be able to bring some sponsors back into the fold has helped. Whether that’s on ribbon boards where we used to not use it, or showing live reactions to different plays.”
On staying flexible throughout a game and being aware of the moment:
“I think that’s the biggest part. That’s the biggest challenge. Even if you waste your go-to pump up song in the first half, you have to be ready for that to come back around in the second half, and it could come back 3 or 4 times in a basketball game. You just never really know what’s going to happen, so you’ve gotta be able to make the moments count that you get and then try and work best with a sponsorship group or your staff to get all of the other things in when they need to.”