Involving Sports in Your Outreach Efforts
Updated: 6.1.06 Printable version
Engaging the sports community is another great way to attract media attention and raise awareness about the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign. Sports teams and athletes often have resources to dedicate to social causes and can reach an audience that may not otherwise be exposed to messages about low-cost and free health care coverage. Athletes' increased risk of injury may also increase their sensitivity to the importance of health care coverage. By participating in efforts to inform eligible families about the availability of Medicaid and SCHIP, sports teams and athletes get an opportunity to reinforce their commitment to their community.
Covering Kids & Families has established national partnerships with Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Like Covering Kids & Families, MLS and AAU are dedicated to the community and the health and well-being of children and families. If you are interested in working with an MLS team or AAU during the back-to-school time period, please call your campaign contact at (202) 338-7227.
In addition to the athletic organizations Covering Kids & Families has partnered with, there are many organizations and teams you can engage in your own efforts locally. Soccer and baseball teams are great partners and target large Latino audiences. Football and basketball teams and NASCAR are also great potential partners.
Six Steps to Sports Community Outreach
There are a number of ways a team or athlete can participate in efforts to inform eligible families about the availability of Medicaid and SCHIP, including:
- Participation in media events
- In-stadium/in-arena marketing (i.e., signage, booths and Jumbotron announcements)
- Team/athlete merchandise giveaways that can be used to attract audiences at health fairs
- Television/cable partners to air public service announcements
The following six steps can help you approach local sports teams and athletes:
Step One: Find Out Whom to Contact
The first step to reaching out to professional teams and players, no matter your "ask," is to determine your best point of contact. If you are working in a coalition, research whether members of your coalition have any connections to the team or a particular player and ask them to help you recruit the team or player to participate in your effort. If you are unable to find anyone who can help you make a connection to a local team, you may need to make a cold call.
In this case, contact the community relations department or the team's foundation. You might also contact the public relations or marketing department, but this will depend on the team's internal structure. These departments determine whether or not the team will support a charitable effort and handle player appearances. Call the team and ask who the appropriate contact is for player appearances at community events.
Before contacting a team, do your homework. Research the other charitable activities in which the team or players are currently involved. For information on selected teams' charitable efforts, visit www.sportsphilanthropy.com/teams.asp or contact Lisa Roberts Willis, who is working with Covering Kids & Families to recruit sports teams and players, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit the official league Web site of the team you are interested in (www.nhl.com, www.nba.com, www.mlb.com, www.nfl.com, www.mlsnet.com) and click through to the team sites. All team Web sites have a community section with this type of information.
Step Two: Prepare for Your First Meeting
Before meeting with a team representative about partnership opportunities, prepare a brief description of your Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign, including results from last year in your community. Your Campaign Contact can help you prepare this if you need assistance. Then determine:
- What are you looking for from the team? It's a good idea to let the team know upfront that you are not requesting a monetary commitment. If you wish to involve a team member in a local media event, consider the following:
- Length of the athlete's appearance (one hour is a reasonable request)
- Whether the athlete will be requested to sign autographs
- Whether the athlete will be asked to make any scripted remarks
- What dates are you requesting?
- How much time do you need?
- What are you giving the team in return?
When first contacting a team, request a face-to-face meeting. For the meeting, customize the Covering Kids & Families corporate PowerPoint. Prepare a packet of supporting materials, including a customized template letter of introduction and the Covering Kids & Families one-page campaign description. You could also bring the highlights video [LINK] featuring results from last year.
Using your customized PowerPoint presentation, present the opportunity to the team representative. Included in the presentation is a slide that succinctly presents what you are asking of the team. Be sure to customize this slide and highlight your specific requests. Also be sure to include in your presentation the List of Potential National and Local Activities for Sports Celebrity Involvement and Participation Criteria.
If you are thinking about including a player in your event or a PSA, do your homework. Make sure that the player will be an appropriate spokesperson for Covering Kids & Families. See the List of Potential National and Local Activities for Sports Celebrity Involvement and Participation Criteria about vetting a potential athlete spokesperson. For a complete guide on organizing, recording and placing a PSA, please see the Covering Kids & Families Guide to Placing Public Service Announcements.
If you are asking the team to produce a PSA featuring a player, be sure to discuss the logistics of the shoot and offer a sample script. You do not need to bring the script to your initial meeting, but let your contact know you will eventually provide a script. Be sure to explain that you do not have the funds to pay to produce the PSA, but would like to know if it might be possible to piggyback on a shoot that the team is already doing.
During Cover the Uninsured Week 2004, several sports teams made announcements over their PA systems or Jumbotrons and allowed Cover the Uninsured Week staff to use their stadiums for events. Following are examples of teams that participated:
Jumbotron/PA System Announcements
- Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants (MLB)
- Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids (MLS)
- New York Knicks (NBA)
A great example of sports community outreach is from Cover the Uninsured Week 2004. During the effort, professional athletes from the Chicago Fire (MLS), the Houston Comets (WNBA), the San Francisco Giants (MLB) and the Utah Jazz (NBA) made appearances at events in their hometowns.
Note: More often than not, teams and players will request an honorarium for their appearance. You should be clear about their expectations before arrangements are made for their participation, and you should ask if the team or player is willing to donate their time to your effort. Covering Kids & Families activities should not feature athletes or other luminaries who require an honorarium for their appearance.
Step Three: Follow-up After Your Meeting
After your meeting, send a thank you note and follow up with your contact a few days later. Take initiative--teams receive dozens of requests daily. Once you get a commitment from a team or a player, follow up in writing with the appropriate contact to confirm the agreement. Get names and phone numbers for all of the contacts needed to coordinate the opportunity you are pursuing. If you are involving one or more of the team's athlete's in your activities, be sure to find out who handles the schedule for the person or persons who will be appearing at your local event and make sure they receive the time, location and other important information about the event.
Step Four: Confirm Team/Athlete Participation
Two weeks before the event, confirm with your contact that the team representative or athlete knows what is requested of them. If they are speaking at a news conference, draft remarks for them based on Covering Kids & Families Sample Talking Points and their personal experience with being uninsured (if applicable). If possible, try to do a one-on-one briefing with the player or their designated representative to discuss the event, their role and their talking points. You will want to work with the team's public relations department or the player's representative to discuss the details of the event and the offer logistical support.
Step Five: Thank the Team/Athlete for Their Participation
When the event is concluded, send a thank you letter and certificate of appreciation to the team and/or athlete, as well as the key contacts that helped you secure the celebrity for the event (see the Thank You Letter to Sports Team/Athlete). If possible, also send some pictures that could be posted on the team Web site.
Step Six: Additional Ways Teams/Athlete Can Participate
There are several other ways teams can participate in Back-to-School activities including in-stadium/in-arena marketing, team/athlete merchandise giveaways and television partnerships.
A. In-Stadium/In-Arena Marketing
This should be part of your initial request when first contacting a team or player. You may be directed to the team's marketing department. The marketing manager, marketing director or director of in-game promotions typically handles what is aired on the Jumbotron. Be sure to ask your contact when they will need the PSA and in what format so that you can get it to them in plenty of time. To request a PSA, please contact the campaign contact from your state.
Jumbotron Public Service Announcements
Ask your local sports teams to have one of the Covering Kids & Families PSAs played on the team's Jumbotron. Most major sport team arenas or stadiums, whether a football stadium, basketball/hockey arena or baseball field, has some type of Jumbotron or huge television screen that displays team announcements, team and crowd rallying messages, advertisements and PSAs.
Another great way to reach families is to distribute information, such as the Covering Kids & Families posters, fliers or bookmarks before or after a game. You could ask to set up a Covering Kids & Families booth in the main concourse of the stadium or arena. Typically, the team's marketing department handles this request; however, it should be part of a complete initial request.
B. Team/Athlete Merchandise Giveaways
A great way to encourage attendance at your Covering Kids & Families events is to have sports merchandise to raffle off. In order to obtain such items, you will need to make a formal request in writing to the team's community relations department. Your request should be submitted six to eight weeks in advance.
During Cover the Uninsured Week 2004, several teams including the Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams donated tickets or raffled off items at local events.
Items available for donation typically include autographed balls, photographs and jerseys. Sometimes a team donates tickets to a game or seats in a luxury skybox. Again, your initial request should include an inquiry about ticket availability. Usually, a certain number of tickets are allocated for the community. Ask for a family four-pack, so an entire family can enjoy the game. In markets where games are typically sold out, it will be more difficult to get tickets donated.
Note: Please keep in mind that teams field numerous requests for their time, money and support on a daily basis. Contact your teams early with a list of options of ways they can contribute to your effort.
C. Television Partnerships
Another way to promote Covering Kids & Families efforts is to pitch local sports cable affiliate television stations to air one of the approved Covering Kids & Families PSAs or one of the locally produced player PSAs, if you are successful in getting a team to produce one.
To place the PSAs, you will most likely talk to the public relations, media relations or community relations department at the TV station. Because every station is different, you might have to explain that you are looking to get a PSA placed in order to be directed to the correct person.
Note: To find the local broadcaster/affiliate of your local teams, visit their league's official Web site (www.nhl.com, www.nba.com, www.mlb.com, www.nfl.com, www.mlsnet.com) and click through to the individual team sites. Click on "schedule" to see the local broadcaster/affiliate. You can also call the team's main receptionist and ask who carries the home games.