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Discussion: OUSA Social Media and Public Relations

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 22, 2015 3:36 PM # 
Glen Schorr:
To the Presidents of OUSA Clubs, Supporting Members and the Orienteering Community,

As part of the 2016 budget, the OUSA board of directors have reserved funds to be utilized to help promote our sport.

Based on past experience, it is assumed that social media and public relations may be the most efficient and impactful strategies both at a club and a national awareness level...with the end goal to drive starts. This has to be determined.

Moving forward, I am asking two things

1) If any OUSA clubs or supporting member organizations are interested in participating in this test please contact me at the information below. Your group must be willing to put a person to work at the local level providing local support as well as have a regular event calendar.

2) OUSA is looking for a contractor to perform this work. Again if you are interested contact me at the information below.

I assume that once this is posted, it will generate additional conversation about the plan, the investment of funds, etc. That is great as I encourage and will monitor the discussion. However the primary reason for the post is to drive responses to questions 1 and 2.

Thanks all.

Glen Schorr
Dec 23, 2015 6:17 PM # 
We're going to pay a contractor to post on Facebook and Twitter, et al?

I remember a couple of years ago, when we were going through the USOF-->OUSA transition, we paid a contractor to design a new logo. As I recall the suggested logos submitted were universally criticized on A/P in some very long threads.

So a contest was suggested, and of the DOZENS of free logos submitted by A/Pers, most of them were BETTER than the professional products! And one eventually was chosen, and is in use to this day.

We also have many volunteers who maintain the website, event calendar, virtual binder, etc. All of us members are greatly indebted to them for their excellent, timely service. But the point is that we have some amazing talent in our ranks!

So before we hire a 'social media' contractor, couldn't we try to tap into the same pool of creative talent that has/is helping keep orienteering in the public eye?
Dec 23, 2015 6:26 PM # 
There was nothing in the original post that suggested to me that we couldn't pay a member of the orienteering community to do this work.
Dec 23, 2015 7:14 PM # 
Pink Socks:
We paid a contractor to design a new logo. As I recall the suggested logos submitted were universally criticized on A/P in some very long threads.

So a contest was suggested, and of the DOZENS of free logos submitted by A/Pers, most of them were BETTER than the professional products!

I don't like design contests. The problem with the O-USA logo wasn't that they hired a contractor, it's that they hired a contractor who had no idea about orienteering and the communication between the client and designer wasn't very good. If the client doesn't know what it wants, and the designer doesn't understand the project that well (or isn't a very good designer to begin with), there are going to be problems.

The ideal process is to hire a designer with a competent portfolio, give them a good design brief, and then go through several iterations of the design process until everyone is happy.

Yes, design contests can generate buzz and democratize the process, but it oftentimes devalues graphic design because designers are willing go give away stuff for free. And it's not always a pleasant result. The city of Everett, WA held a design contest in 2014 for a new city logo. They offered $5000 to the winning design, so it got a 849 submissions (mostly bad), and at the end of the day, they paid the designer $5000 and then they never used it because it turned out to look too much like an existing logo.

As orienteers, we don't have design contests for course design. When we want a new map, we don't have a mapping contest for that, either.


For the social media gig, if you really want to be effective, it's more than just sharing random links and posting photos. Again, the ideal process is to hire someone with competent experience (What other brands have they worked with? How much did they improve page views, clicks, engagement, and other measurable metrics? What's the ideal budget for the stated goals?).

And again, the communication between the client and the social media expert needs to be good. If the client doesn't know what it wants, and the contractor doesn't understand the project that well (or isn't very competent to begin with), there are going to be problems.

Sure, we can probably hire (for free or for cheap) a young orienteer with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but I think the goals of this project are a lot bigger.
Dec 23, 2015 7:33 PM # 
Obviously, the best person to hire for this position is someone who orienteers who also has some credentials and experience in social media and PR. But if no such individual surfaces, then I would fully support a professional who was willing to learn about orienteering.
Dec 23, 2015 7:59 PM # 
Someone with some digital analytics capabilities would be beneficial too. Track click through rates, understand through data what campaigns work, etc. There is a lot going on with FB advertising .
Dec 23, 2015 8:14 PM # 
Thanks for the responses guys! As an old guy, who rarely posts on Facebook, I probably was the wrong person to comment on this topic. But Glen's proposal sat for over 24-hours without eliciting a response, so I thought I'd toss out my question.

Sure Cristina, we could pay an orienteer to do this work. But wouldn't that set a dangerous precedent? How many other OUSA positions are paid, beside Glen and Robin? And how do we set the line, between volunteer and paid work? Judging from the Facebook page of British Orienteering, the job doesn't look that difficult.

I vote for appointing one (or three!) 'young orienteers' with social media accounts and experience before we do anything more expensive...and see what happens!
Dec 23, 2015 8:56 PM # 
There's a pretty big difference between how a typical teen uses social media and what an experienced professional social media manager does.
Dec 23, 2015 8:59 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
The dangerous precedent of most successful organizations?
Dec 23, 2015 9:14 PM # 
I don't see anything dangerous about paying someone to do potentially very useful work.

And although I use Facebook quite a bit, I know just enough to know that I (and most any other casual user) doesn't know how to effectively use Facebook or other social media for effectively marketing our product. I fully support Glen's proposal.
Dec 23, 2015 9:18 PM # 
It's much more than just posting content. A post that has 2 likes on is not a success with regards to marketing. Volunteers don't want or have time to think about the numbers or spend hours on content....they want to post something quick for their friends to see. I fully support as well.
Dec 23, 2015 9:29 PM # 
Additionally, if this position involves public relations work, you'll probably need somebody with experience writing a press release.

I think the time and effort that will be put forth on this is not easily visible when just looking at a Facebook page. There's creating or sourcing content (getting permission to use photos, for example). You need to have content that drives page views, clicks, likes and shares. In fact, the way the Facebook algorithm works, if users aren't interacting with your page then it gets shown to fewer people. You also reach far more people with sponsored (aka you pay money) content, which would require some budget.
Dec 23, 2015 10:53 PM # 
I've done a little Facebook marketing, enough to see all the various analytics that are available. I know I don't understand all of that, or all of the ins and outs of getting our content in front of people who don't already know about orienteering. Some of it is making connections to related sites so that their visitors see our content. For example, East Bay Regional Park District just posted a picture and article about Morgan Territory Park. I posted a comment about the US Champs being there in March. Consequently, EBRPD liked my comment and then liked our page. The 23,000 people who like their page now will see that on their homepage.
Dec 23, 2015 11:07 PM # 
Sure Cristina, we could pay an orienteer to do this work. But wouldn't that set a dangerous precedent?

That is a precedent that I would love to see set, and that we need to see set if we want to continue to see our events put on at the level we expect, and if we want to see any growth in the programs that are offered in this country.
Dec 23, 2015 11:42 PM # 
Pink Socks:
...we could pay an orienteer to do this work. But wouldn't that set a dangerous precedent?

That is a precedent that I would love to see set

I hope the emphasis here is on "pay", and not "an orienteer".

I agree that we'll have better events if we pay people to do them, but we don't necessarily need orienteers to do them. For example, CascadeOC hired a non-orienteer to direct most of our events, and we set an all-time high in annual starts this year, and we rarely had to worry about how things would get done.
Dec 24, 2015 1:36 AM # 
Okay, slightly off topic here---I am totally ignorant of Facebook and even more so of twitter and --? BUT, I have thought for some time that OUSA misses A LOT of opportunities to market itself. For example, why not send out press releases for every person that wins a US Champs? Or, more importantly, makes the US Team? Considering all the US Champs, there should be hundreds of press releases every year. Instead, I think there are non from OUSA (please correct me if I am wrong), though a few from the junior team who seem to think it is important.

There are other marketing opportunities besides results too. Maybe the hired person/contractor will make this happen.
Dec 24, 2015 2:30 AM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Alright, so I got to wondering, what sports federations are run by volunteers?

USATF had a $4-5m salary line item in 2012
USA Cycling doesn't have it broken out that way on the first I found, but the "coaches, training, and athletes" is like $3m and the national office is 750k
USA Rowing, $3m salaries and benefits
USA Curling, it's harder to break out with some quick searches. They have two pools with salaries, totaling $500k ish
Chicago Area Runners Association - $500k salaries per IRS form
Dec 24, 2015 6:24 AM # 
How many other OUSA positions are paid, beside Glen and Robin?

Perhaps you've heard about this guy...
Dec 24, 2015 12:26 PM # 
Dec 24, 2015 12:32 PM # 
Glen Schorr:

Thanks for the dialogue to date. It is appreciated, solid and needed. A couple of thoughts

1) I knew that when I put this out the "logo" discussion would come back. Still, I'm glad we exorcized it early. IMO while the process was dreadful we ended up with a great design thanks to Pink Socks.

2) chitownclark...thanks for starting the dialogue. It is appreciated. And needed.

3) Carlch...for the past 3, possibly 4 years, every athlete that goes to a world championship (Every sport) has had press releases sent out by OUSA on their behalf. Just setting the record straight.

4) The only two paid employees of OUSA are Erin Schirm and myself. Robin is a volunteer who is compensated for her expenses. She is not on salary. Again, setting the record straight.

5) Remember the two key questions....if you or a friend are interested in doing the work contact me a (I have had no interest as of date). Also if you club is interested, email me at the same address. (So far I have heard from 3 or 4.) Remember....we won't be able to work with everybody but I want to know where the interest lies.

I'll check in again after Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday.

Glen - OUSA
Dec 24, 2015 3:28 PM # 
While of course there is an ethical obligation to give the gig to the most qualified applicant, regardless of status, I would recommend an outsider over a current orienteer.

As an outsider myself, making only 8 starts since 2009, and none in the past 3 years, I would argue that an outsider is in a better position to see and address the problem of digital age marketing to outsiders. Also, while this comment is admittedly out of scope, they will also have a better perspective than an insider on the product problems that make the product a difficult sell regardless of the marketing medium, and I think that fresh perspective would be a good thing.

As for gaining domain experience, its part of this job description of this sort of work to gain that, so I wouldn't worried. Having demonstrated an ability to do so would fall under the definition of "qualified".

Good luck and merry Christmas
Dec 24, 2015 3:41 PM # 
Thanks for the clarification Glen. Apparently the local media ignored your press release for the local WOC team member though, they did cover the JWOC team member from the state.
Dec 24, 2015 4:07 PM # 

Yes, by all means get an outsider if chitownclark isn't available.

But, it doesn't much matter... whoever is selected will soon be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
Dec 31, 2015 1:35 AM # 
Glen Schorr:

First I hope you are having a happy holiday season.

I wanted to give you a brief update on where we stand
- 7 or 8 clubs have expressed interest in being test clubs. It is a good mix of big, medium and small from all over the US.
- To date no one has expressed interest in the person from ROC said he may know someone...but I have heard no follow up.

I am going to send a follow up on both opportunities but anything you can do to spread the word I would appreciate.

Happy New Year.

Dec 31, 2015 1:37 AM # 
Glen Schorr:
I would like to get clubs and individuals expressing interest by January 10 so I can discuss at the January 16 BOD meeting. Just so you know, I may have identified an outside "third party" that comes highly recommended but I want to utilize our internal network as well.

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