#ExOps18 is in the books and by all indications, it was a rousing success. Huge thanks goes out to Brad Wurthman, Ryan Peck, Chris Ferris and Daniel Veale for traveling to Norman, spending a couple days with us and contributing great information to the discussion. Thanks also goes out to everyone who joined remotely. We were excited to see that people from the industry were tuning in, asking questions and participating in the discussion. We had a great time, learned a lot and have a lot of notes on ways to make #ExOps19 even more engaging and valuable for everyone.

We covered a number of topics during our day-and-a-half of discussions. You can watch it all for yourself on the Old Hat Facebook page or you can simply read my recap below.

An Unconventional Look at How to Drive Attendance
We kicked things off on Thursday morning with a private presentation I've developed that addresses what I see as a new way looking at collegiate athletics marketing. The group in the room served as my test audience. I do a number of speaking engagements in the spring, and this will be a topic I cover when visiting with athletics marketing groups. In my opinion, we should take a much different approach if we want to fill our stadiums and arenas. In this presentation, I outline what I believe is that approach. Be on the lookout for a webinar of this presentation coming soon.

Major in the Majors
Next up, we had Brad Wurthman of Virginia Tech walk us through a presentation called "Major in the Majors" where he outlined steps he feels we should be taking to focus on the things that truly matter. Brad pointed out that it's difficult to not get bogged down in the minutia and lose sight of the majors, or the big things we actually should be paying attention to. Brad asked questions like, "What's your why?" and "What are we chasing?" and also laid down some golden wisdom with comments like, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," and my personal favorite, "We don't want our staff to do more, we want them to do different." Check out his presentation slides here, but I also highly recommend you follow along by listening to the Facebook video feed for a more valuable experience hearing it directly from Brad. 

Roundtable Discussion
After Brad's presentation, Chris Ferris of Colorado State led a discussion on various external operations topics. One strong area of focus was that of student attendance. Everyone felt strongly that despite student attendance being a non-factor in direct revenue generation, there are ancillary benefits that cause indirect increases in revenue. The most obvious of those is the effect students have on the overall gameday experience. Games are more exciting and more fun if the students are there. That, paired with the idea that students are your future season ticket holders and donors, brought us to the conclusion that when the old fans are complaining about the loud music and song selection, but your students love it, you err on the side of pleasing the students. Those die-hard older fans aren't going to stop coming because of the music, but your students won't turn into die-hard fans if you don't give them a great experience.

Effects of the New Tax Code on Fundraising
After a lunch break, we came back to another roundtable discussion led by Ryan Peck of North Texas. We went through what the old code states about tax-deductible gifts and what the new code says. We also talked through a number of things different athletic departments have done to try to prepare for the unknown, but "the unknown" was really where we landed on this topic. The fact is, no one really knows how, or if, the new tax code is going to affect the industry. After some initial panic toward the end of 2017, most of the people at the table agreed that it might not be a major issue. Toward the end of this discussion, we also touched on the topic of data analytics, predictive analysis, look-alike modeling and marketing automation.

Virginia Tech Ticket Sales Strategic Planning Session
Having spent the past few hours in discussion, we turned the live-stream off to get our hands dirty with a little strategic planning for Hokies football and men's basketball. Due to the proprietary nature of both the client information being shared, along with wanting to keep our process for making strategic marketing recommendations under wraps, we didn't broadcast this part to the masses. However, I can tell you that ahead of time, Brad Wurthman gave us a goal he's hoping to achieve: increase non-season ticket sales for football and men's basketball. We dug through the data gathered from surveys we'd conducted, talked through some of the issues Va Tech is facing, and looked at census data and historical sales information before calling it a day. This part of the process was all about information gathering. We haven't completed our strategic plan yet, but we will be doing so in the coming weeks and delivering that to Va Tech with a full list of recommendations to help them achieve that goal in a targeted and strategic manner.

2018 Digital Marketing Trends
We kicked things off on Day 2 with a live-streamed presentation from Old Hat's Director of Web/Digital, Kevin Kelly, on the topic of web and digital trends for 2018. Kevin shared some great statistics on the impact of video engagement vs. the traditional means of communicating on social media. Some of those stats:

- 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video vs reading
- 1 in 4 consumers lose interest in product if there's no video about that product
- 4 in 5 consumers say video of how a product works is important in decision to buy
- 95% of a message is retained when watched in video vs. 10% when reading

One idea that was thrown out as a result of this is that maybe instead of having our internal video production crews focus so heavily on high-impact, emotionally driven videos, we should ask them to produce more informational videos that actually communicate a message about our product.

Other topics that were covered are too many to name, but I'll be asking Kevin to develop this into a webinar in the spring - so stay tuned for that. There's some great information that can help us better engage with our fans.

Responding to a Changing Industry
For the final segment of #ExOps18, we turned off the live stream and talked through ways Old Hat can better serve the industry. When I started Old Hat 14 years ago, we were a traditional creative production shop, and we were selling a service the industry was already buying and knew it needed. Old Hat just offered a better version of it at a competitive price. However, as I've seen the industry shift, I've realized the need for our marketing to be much more strategic. Therefore, we developed a wide range of strategic marketing services that include data collection, analysis and strategic recommendations that can help an athletics organization identify who specifically to target, where to find them, how to message to them and how to measure the results. Unlike posters, videos and schedule cards, this list of services is not one the industry already knows it needs. During this discussion, we talked through ways of shifting the industry's perception on what marketing should look like and how to convince athletic departments to look at the product they're selling the same way other industries view their own products and services. That is through doing research, developing insight into who to reach and how to reach them and then rolling out a strategic marketing message in the right ways to the right people.

Overall, it was one of the most fun and most valuable day-and-a-halves in my entire career. Outside the walls of that conference room, we ate a lot of great food, learned a lot about each other and enjoyed the company of some very progressive and forward-thinking minds in collegiate athletics. There were so many people that came together behind-the-scenes to make this a reality, and my sincere gratitude goes out to all of them. We can't wait to do it again next year.

After months of planning, we are excited to announce the first ever Collegiate Athletics External Operations Symposium, or as we like to call it, #ExOps18. What is #ExOps18, you ask? Great question!

#ExOps18 is an opportunity for anyone working in collegiate athletics to learn about and discuss the topics at the forefront of the minds of those charged with ticket sales, increasing attendance, game experience and fundraising - the "external operations" of collegiate athletics. We're starting small and because of the luxuries the web provides us, year one will primarily be an event you can attend remotely. No need to worry about getting approved to spend money to attend. That's assuming, of course, that your university isn't on AOL's pay-per-minute internet service. If so, maybe you can collect some "free trial" disks in the mail and attend next year.

Fortunately for you though, not everyone is attending remotely. Old Hat has invited four of the top minds from collegiate athletics marketing and fundraising to be on-site to present, discuss and field questions. Those minds belong to:

Chris Ferris
Senior Associate AD for Sales, Marketing and Communications
Colorado State University

Ryan Peck
Executive Senior Associate AD for External Affairs
University of North Texas

Daniel Veale
Director of Marketing
SMU

Brad Wurthman
Senior Associate AD for External Affairs
Virginia Tech

On January 25 and 26, these four people will gather at Old Hat world headquarters for a day-and-a-half to discuss the topics that are weighing most heavily on their minds. Portions of those discussions will be live streamed via Facebook Live (link: ExOps.live), and we're inviting you to listen in and be a part of the conversation. You will be able to send in questions ahead of time, ask questions live via Twitter using the #ExOps18 hashtag or submit questions in the comments on the Facebook Live video stream. Below is an agenda for the event and a list of topics we will be discussing, so mark your calendars and get ready to plop down in front of your computer next Thursday and Friday for some great conversation.

Please note: Portions of the days' events will not be live streamed due to proprietary and confidential information being shared. The segments that will be live streamed are indicated below.

 

Thursday, January 25 - All times Central

9:00 a.m. (LIVE) - Welcome, Introductions and Icebreaker 

9:30 a.m. (PRIVATE)- An Unconventional Look at How to Drive Attendance: An internal discussion on fan behavior  - Zac Logsdon, CEO, Old Hat 

10:15 a.m. (LIVE) - Major in the Majors: Filtering out the unimportant and concentrating on valuable metrics - Brad Wurthman, Virginia Tech

10:45 a.m. (LIVE) - Q&A session Brad Wurthman 

11:15 a.m. (LIVE) - Marketing/Ticket Sales Roundtable discussion, led by Chris Ferris, Colorado State - Topics to include: Increasing Student Attendance, Growth Metrics that Matter, Data Analytics and How do you measure engagement?

Noon - Break for Lunch

1:30 p.m. (LIVE) - Fundraising/Development Roundtable discussion, led by Ryan Peck, North Texas - Impact of the new tax code on fundraising

2:30 p.m. (PRIVATE) - Strategic Planning Session for Virginia Tech Ticket Sales

5:00 p.m. - Break for the day

 

Friday, January 26 - All times Central

9:00 a.m. (LIVE) - Digital Marketing Marketing Trends for 2018 Presentation/Discussion - Kevin Kelly, Director of Digital/Web, Old Hat

9:45 a.m. (LIVE) - Q&A - Last opportunity to ask our guests questions

10:15 a.m. (PRIVATE) - Internal Discussion on new products/services, positioning and adapting to the changing market

Noon - #ExOps18 Ends

 

 

The Florida sports landscape is one that is truly unique. It is the third largest state for intercollegiate and professional sports in the nation. A sports fan’s paradise set in a paradise climate. In other words, the ultimate challenge for a sports marketer trying to drive fan attendance.

When the average yearly temperature is 70 degrees it’s going to take a lot more than winning games to get the casual fan to regularly attend a sporting event.

The University of Florida has a reputation for cultivating championship teams, as well as championship experiences for their fans. Gators Athletics is one of only a handful of universities that have elevated their fan experience with the newest video technology.

Fans got their first taste of 3D projection mapping in February 2017 for the Florida-Kentucky Men’s Basketball matchup at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The buzz was immediate.

As Florida prepared to begin the 2017-18 sports season with permanent arena 3D technology from Quince Imaging in place, they already had a very clear vision in mind. To accomplish their goals, Florida Athletics engaged Old Hat to create one-of-a-kind stunning videos for four sports: Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Basketball, and Gymnastics. The results thus far have engaged and impressed fans, recruits and competitors alike.

The variety and professional quality of 3D videos make for an unforgettable fan experience at all O’Dome events. It turns the ordinary pregame introductions into a production traditionally saved for an Olympic Opening Ceremony or Super Bowl Halftime Show. Most importantly, Old Hat is able to produce a fully customized solution that meets the University’s requirements for both cutting-edge creative technology and budget.

Old Hat and Florida Athletics fan entertainment relationship and creative collaboration go back several years, partnering on 3D animated video board games, in addition to historical videos for the storied Gators Baseball program.

Old Hat has collaborated with more than 150 sports organizations comprising of professional and collegiate sports leagues and associations. Old Hat is a pioneer in 3D projection mapping. First in the industry to produce 3D video projection at the collegiate level. Old Hat aims to improve the game experience and help give fans a game day they’ll never forget.

 

 

  

Duke Men's Basketball fans are used to seeing great basketball, and thanks to our partnership with Duke Athletics over the past 4 years on Countdown to Craziness, their fans are also used to seeing an epic floor projection show to kick off the basketball season.

Every year we work with Duke Athletics to come up with something that's bigger and better than what was done the year before. This year was no exception. Months of planning and discussions happen before we even begin the video production process. This is necessary so that we can determine a theme and concept that the show centers around.

The concept behind this year's Countdown to Craziness Court Projection was bringing Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium back to life. The basketball court had been dormant since its last game in March and it just needed the electrical switch flipped to charge it back up to full craziness. Deep in the inner-depths of Cameron is the storied program's history. The heart of Cameron. This is where you'll find all of the buzzer-beaters, dunks, blocks, hustle plays, and hugs. This is where you'll find the banners and trophies. As each highlight continues to build the electricity goes into a complete frenzy. Once you step on Coach K Court you BECOME a part of it all. See for yourself!

 
 
 

Take a second and think about the things you absolutely love to do. Whether it's your job, a hobby, a food...just think about how much you love it.

Could you do or eat that exact same thing starting today and continue until you are 95 years old? For me, that would be 67 years, one month, and 23 days.

I ask these questions because recently, while we were on campus at SMU for our basketball video/photo shoot, Dustin and I had the opportunity to meet someone special.

Meet Brad Bradley - sports photographer and legend. He has been taking photos at SMU and around Dallas for the last 70 years! He is 95 years old and still working. Why? Because he absolutely loves it.

We had a few moments to talk with Brad and his son Jimmy, and the stories of what they've done over the last seven decades are amazing. Doak Walker. Larry Brown. Michael Jordan. Brad took photos of them all. He was the photographer for the Southwest Conference, SEC, and ACC. He would drive around the country and hit every school in those conferences in one trip over the course of a few weeks. As we continued talking, he very humbly told us he pretty much pioneered the sports "action" photo. Instead of having guys posing and hold the ball or helmet, he had them act out some moves/positions from their sport. It hit us that we were talking to the inventor of what we were there doing. He compared our lights/camera set up to how he used to do it, and Dustin and he talked through technology advancements and techniques. It was so cool.

It made me step back and think about how much Brad truly enjoys his work. He could have retired 30 years ago, but he didn't. I hope we all have something in our lives we love so much that we want to do it for 70+ years.

To read more about Brad and his career, take a look at this article from a few years ago.

And of course, here are a few photos with Brad from our shoot:

 

Every year we spend the months of May-October shooting photographs and capturing video content for the fall and winter sports that take place at universities all across the country. 

I'd like to use an example from an old shoot to illustrate the importance of "shooting for the edit". Each time I shoot a sport I am thinking of all the ways in which the photographs may be used and what we'll need to create interesting and dynamic designs once the photos get back to the office. Too often photographers neglect to capture a wide enough range of positions, angles or poses to allow for variety throughout the long athletic season. 

These examples are from the 2015 season for Utah volleyball. Below you can see the schedule poster that kicked off the design process. 

In this case, we knew that we would need to include every athlete on the team somewhere on the poster. This can be a tall task in and of itself, but now imagine if every player was making the same pose or even one of three poses? Suddenly the task of creating an interesting composition becomes much harder. We went on to use the photos captured during this session to create the other elements that a team needs to market itself throughout the season. 

Sometimes the marketing staff likes for photos to be repurposed in different layouts, but kept the same for consistency. Other times we'll settle on completely different photos for each piece.  

Below is a good example of how each player is doing something different and how it plays on the tickets, where each individual pose really stands out. If these were, all the same, the viewer would get bored very quickly. 

You may think that something like the above comes from letting an athlete "freestyle" or just shooting whatever comes up in the process of the shoot. But it is a very calculated approach that gets you what you need.

Below is a screenshot showing just a few of the poses of number 6 that we captured during this shoot. She is looking left, looking right, hands relaxed at her side, hands on hips, arms crossed, ball in hand on the left side, ball in hand on the right side, ball in front, etc. 

We do this for EVERY. SINGLE. ATHLETE. 

Is it time-consuming? Yes.

Is it hard? Yes. But it makes all the difference. 

Now, check out this example from the 2016 Utah volleyball team. 

In this example, you can see a different take on the "all athletes featured" theme. These are action shots and celebration shots as opposed to static, posed shots. But in the case of the 2016 shoot AND the 2015 shoot, we shot BOTH options. (And always do.)

(Above: Action shots from 2015 of Number 6. These were in addition to her posed shots seen earlier in the post.)

(Above: Action shots of Number 5 from the 2016 shoot.)

So next time you commission a shoot, be sure to cover your bases. Shoot left, right, up, down, sideways and every way in between. Shoot with and without balls, rackets, helmets, gloves, and bats. Don't just shoot a few headshots and call it a day. Options make for more exciting content and more excited fans. And that's something we all want. 

 

 

 

 

So you say you're tired of the same old Hype-Intro Video with highlights cut to really theatrical epic music. We get it. Seriously, we.get.it. You want something with "PRODUCTION VALUE." That's one of those buzzwords you'll hear video production people say a lot. It's something most folks outside of the creative community don't care a whole lot about. And that's not a knock on them. They're very concerned about things like the bottom line and keeping 16 other head coaches happy. Yikes. However, if you can get a majority of the cooks in your video kitchen vaguely aware of "production value" it will make everybody a little happier when these things finally play on the video board and on your mobile devices

You can buy your team all of the cool new cameras, gadgets, and smoke grenades you want, but a high-quality video is not only about pointing, shooting and looking tough on camera.

It’s about all of the other ‘tiny’ things:

  • Idea
  • Preparations
  • Storytelling
  • Script
  • Location
  • Cinematography
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Staging
  • Editing
  • Color Correction
  • Graphic Elements
  • Music
  • Sound Engineering
  • File Encoding
 

I could go on and on. That's why movie and television awards shows are so long. 

There's a difference between the videos that stand out and the ones that look like all the others. And it's not budget, y'all. It just comes down to taking care of the little things and not taking short cuts.

Now, we here at Old Hat can only control so many things when it comes to a video and a video shoot, I'll discuss that a little more in a bit. Our team can do a cool video, but for us to pull off something like we did at Illinois back in July you need a ton of buy-in and support from Illinois Athletics Marketing and Illinois Football.

We are absolutely nowhere without the high-level of communication and coordination completed by those two camps. We needed to secure five different locations and determine power sources at each place. We needed campus security and fire to be alerted that there might be reports of heavy orange smoke. We needed a couple of folks to run with smoke grenades over a span of three hours. We needed to secure some workout equipment from Strength & Conditioning. We needed to secure game-ready gear from the Equipment team. We needed eight student athletes to give up one of their evenings doing things that might make them feel kind of silly in full uniform and pads in 90-degree heat. Oh, and we needed them to sell it to the camera. Want to see wide receiver, Mike Dudek's face when we told him to catch a football in a giant plume of orange smoke?

"I can't see anything!" - The Dude.

Get the point yet? You can't just throw a shoot together. I mean, you can, but the proof is in the pudding. Your team has got to have a Sabrina, a Michelle, a Kassidy, a Giana, a Davontay, an Alex, a Madison and a Brad. Total buy in. All on the same page. Getting stuff done. 

For Old Hat's part, it started with presenting this team a few different concepts: Rain, giant light panels, green screen, night-vs-day, practical-vs-unique locations, uniforms-vs-practice gear. The one that stuck: Smoke in football practical and unique campus locations.

Next up for us: How to add production value to this smoke concept. Without production value, you've just got another sports marketing gimmick. Here are a few of the inspiration images and shoot screenshots: 

Add in a little storytelling, that may or may not have once been compared to that storming the castle scene from Beauty and Beast, some solid directing and acting, as well as lighting, a total Brad Wurthman music find and some of the best post-production artist work around, and you've got something pretty cool and unique. Something you're proud to watch on a giant screen at least six times during the season. 

It's safe to say that fans attend the same sporting event for many different reasons. Some go strictly for the game itself. They grab a program upon entry to the stadium and intensely keep stats throughout. Some go for a more social experience. They may have no idea who's even playing that day, but it's a great environment to hang out with some buddies. If you're like me, you may go for a mix of reasons. I love the overall experience, while still paying attention to the game itself, but my absolute favorite part is everything in between. 

While growing up, my dad would take us to games, but he would make us get there TWO hours early. I don't know if he was worried about Dallas traffic or what, but sometimes we were there before the gates opened. As a young child, it seemed like we would have to wait FOR-EV-ER for anything to start happening...you know...players warming up, people filling the stands, seeing anything at all on the jumbotron. But, because of his compulsion to be early to absolutely everything, I learned to love what we call the "fan experience" parts of the game.

Nowadays, I find myself wanting to arrive to a game early enough to be sure I don't miss the pre-game activities. I love when it's lights out and the intro video plays. #goosebumps everytime. I love timeouts/in between plays to see what fun things will happen. Who will they show on the video board? What race can I "bet" against my friends and possibly win something (even if just pride)? Whose life will instantly change when they make that million dollar half court shot? 

My absolute favorite part of Texas Rangers games growing up was watching The Dot Race. What's so special about a red, green, and blue dot running in circles around a pixely baseball diamond on screen? No idea, but I loved it. The race takes place in the 6th inning or so, and around the 4th, they would hand out the coupons. Sitting through those two innings seemed to go in slow motion for me...gosh, I couldn't wait. And what was the winning prize? A bottle of OZARKA WATER! You'd think I could win a new car with how excited I was. 

So, why did I bring up the Dots? Because, while some sponsor elements or "fan experience" things may seem silly, people love them! And they want to interact. They want to dance crazy on the dance cam and become an internet sensation. They want to flex their muscles and lift their kid up like Simba in the Lion King. They want to brag to their friends that they picked the right hotdog or president to win the race. It's all part of the game. Live sports and fan entertainment have become so much more intertwined that it is more expected than an "extra" benefit to attending the game. Remember when the New York Knicks went silent? No one knew how to handle that. 

We want to help you first and foremost drive attendance to your events, but also give your fans the best experience possible. Sponsors are looking for more than a PA announcement and static logo these days. They want people to be talking about them long after they leave the game. Luckily, we have some ideas.

People love bobbleheads. Or, at least my mom does. She times her Rangers game attendance for the bobblehead giveaways. So, why not give away a bobblehead and also feature that on the video board for a shuffle game? Have you seen this?

We can shuffle other things as well. Recently, for the New Orleans Babycakes, we shuffled King Cakes behind their logo.

Speaking of races, we have something for that too. Design a Derby with your most beloved players/coaches, or even fans to get the crowd going wild. One of our all time favorites is this one we did for North Texas a few years ago. It featured the football coach at the time, and he even provided audio clips for us to use. We also had the play-by-play announcer, who just so happens to be a prominent sports radio guy in Dallas, provide some voice overs as well.  

 Okay, so what if you want to get people up and dancing? Who wouldn't want to dance after seeing something like this?

There's plenty more where that came from. Give us a shout if you have the next crazy "cam" idea or obscure object you want to see racing on your screen. Let's make it happen.

The need for creative content has never been greater in the world of athletics than it is right now. From traditional media that have been around for years like posters, ads, ticket stock and billboards, to the newer forms of creative output like social media graphics, recruiting graphics and the beloved animated gifs, the new truth is this: you need designers. The problem is, many athletic organizations don't have experience hiring for that position. And they don't have creative directors that leading a team of designers that they can lean on to head that up. No, many times it falls to sports information directors, sport operations managers or marketing directors to hire for a skill set they do not possess. They know what to look for when hiring a coach. They know what to look for when hiring marketing assistants or sports info assistants. But hiring designers is tough. Hiring designers with an eye for sports is nearly impossible.

I've spent nearly two decades in athletics creative and for the past 14 years, I've hired or been a part of the hiring of a lot of designers, editors, animators and other creatives to help Old Hat develop top notch creative for the more than 150 sports organizations we've worked with. We have a process and we know what to look for (and not look for) when identifying talented individuals that know how to produce for sports. So here are some tips and tricks that can help you in your search for someone that can churn out all those social media graphics on signing day.

1. There's no "Eye" in Team - I've seen hundreds of portfolios and interviewed countless designers. Some of them are extremely talented. But an eye for design doesn't always equate to an eye for sports design. Sports design is a different animal and to succeed in this industry, you have to look at design a little bit differently. Most of the design world operates on a "less is more" philosophy. But I've always said that sports subscribes to the "more is more" design philosophy. So one thing to make sure you look for is someone that knows sports and has an eye for sports design. Some will have examples of that in their portfolio but for those that do not...

2. This is a test - No matter how talented they appear to be or how many examples of amazing sports projects they have in their portfolio, always send them a test project. Primarily, this shows me what they can do with a project from scratch. For all I know, their portfolio is full of ads they resized from another designer's template. So send them your logo, a few photos of your athletes, tell them what to create and see what they send back. You'd be surprised by how many designers that have amazing portfolios send back test projects that fall completely flat. If you get something amazing back from them, you're on the right track. But there are other things to keep in mind, like...

3. It's about more than talent  - Talent can get you far but the sports industry is a lot more fast-paced than most. Sometimes we have to produce things with quick turnaround. Actually, that happens more often than not. And great designers have a reputation for wanting to take their time to get it just right. You also want to know how well they follow instructions, how well the can stay on brand and what their attitude is like when you give them feedback. So as a part of your test project, make sure to give them basic instruction on the design, but specific instructions on content. You want to see how the operate with creative freedom but you also want to make sure they can follow instructions. Give them a specific deadline and if they don't meet it, mark them off the list (bonus points for sending it early). Then, if you really want to get a feel for 1) how they are to work with and 2) how much they want the job, send revisions.  At this point, you'll know if they have an eye for sports design, you'll know how good they are and you'll know how fast they are. What else do you need to know about them?

4. For love of the game - They might be good, they might be fast and they might have great attention to detail. But do they love sports? You're going to get a lot more out of them if they do. You want someone that gets excited by what they're doing for you. I always ask, "If you could get a job designing for any industry, what would it be?" or "What's the most fun design project you've ever worked on?" If their answer is that they want to work in the fashion industry or that their favorite design project was their cousin's wedding invitation, they're not for you. That's not to say that you can't get good work out of someone that doesn't love sports but if they're not passionate about what they do, the long hours, tight deadlines and coaches that change their minds 12 times are going to wear on them and their time with your organization will be short-lived. If you can find someone that has an eye for sports design, nails the test project, follows instructions, meets deadlines and absolutely loves sports... HIRE THEM. However, if you want to take it one step further, there's one more thing you can look for that will get you the holy grail of sports designers...

5. What color do they bleed? - This one is easy because you don't have to even ask them the question to find out the answer. Look at their resumé and see where they went to school. If they attended the some other institution, that's fine. They're probably worth hiring anyway. But if they list your school as their alma mater, that's one more mark in the W column for them because I can assure you that they'll pour themselves into their jobs even more if they have a pride in the organization they're working for. This doesn't work, of course, if you're hiring for a professional organization. But you can solve this simply by asking who their favorite teams are. Or simply look at where they're from. If you're hiring for the Pittsburgh Steelers and your candidate grew up in Dallas, they might not have the passion for the Steelers you want them to have. But if you find someone that meets all the criteria for a great sports designer and they went to your school or grew up in your town, you have a winner.

 

We Hire, Train and Consult

One thing to keep in mind is that if you still don't feel comfortable facilitating the hiring process, or if you'd like to have someone to train that individual prior to them taking their seat within your organization, is that Old Hat offers creative staffing services as a part of our mission to help sports organizations drive attendance to their events. We believe strongly that great creative can help fill the stands and we want to help organizations achieve that goal in every way possible. Therefore, we developed a program where we serve as your proxy to hire your creative staff. Here's how it works:

1. We Identify Candidates - We tap our network of sports designers we know from coast-to-coast to see who may be interested in a job in your organization. We also post the job on multiple creative job boards to get as large a pool as possible that are interested in working for you.

2. We Test Them - Over many years we have developed a number of test projects depending upon the job description and we put the candidates through the rigors to figure out who best meets the requirements. 

3. We Interview - We narrow the pool based on talent and we interview them to see who would be the best fit.

4. We Recommend - Based on our tests and interviews, we submit a list of qualified candidates to you. You are the final decision maker on who gets the job.

5. We Train - As a part of our program, we bring your new staff member to Old Hat HQ to spend 2-4 weeks training under our design staff. We put them through a crash course in file management, project management, how to field requests, design tips and tricks, photography, motion graphics and more to make sure they are ready to roll when they begin working for you.

6. We Consult - The hardest part about being a designer in a sports organization is that often times, you're on an island. You're not surrounded by other creatives that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, etc. It's a lonely gig. Old Hat solves this by being on retainer to answer questions, provide input and allow your designer to submit their ideas for feedback. 

If you're interested in finding out more about our creative hiring services, download this PDF, email me at zac@oldhatcreative.com or call (405) 310-2133 x118.

We understand that environmental branding is imperative in appealing to fans and is a game-changer in the recruiting process. We also know that big projects often mean big investments and sometimes big headaches! We wanted to find out more about the challenges you face when it comes to projects involving large-scale graphics, so we recently conducted a survey through our new company, Powerhouse.

Here are a few things we learned through the Powerhouse Environmental Graphics Survey:

1. You believe environmental graphics projects are effective.

Only 14% of survey respondents said that the environmental graphics projects they’ve done in the past 24 months weren’t effective at all. We’re not surprised, because large-scale graphics projects are a great way to influence the energy of student-athletes, administrators, donors and fans. The big question to ask yourself is: are your environmental graphics projects as effective as you’d like them to be?

2. You prefer local partners, but don’t always use them.

80% percent of survey participants agreed that using local printers and installers is an important consideration when creating environmental graphics. Pricing and creative design capability were the top two reasons cited for choosing to work with a supplier outside the local area.

3. Football and basketball rule the roost.

Not surprisingly, basketball and football facilities were identified as the main focus for environmental graphics investments. The environmental graphics used in these facilities were also seen as the most effective by survey participants.

For more survey data and insights, see the full survey report here

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