Fleishman shoots for more sports work

ST. LOUIS: After nearly a decade working on communications for a professional hockey team, Jim Woodcock has rejoined Fleishman-Hillard to launch its sports business practice.

ST. LOUIS: After nearly a decade working on communications for a professional hockey team, Jim Woodcock has rejoined Fleishman-Hillard to launch its sports business practice.

Woodcock, who was SVP of marketing and communications for the NHL's St. Louis Blues, will not only launch Fleishman's practice, but also work on building the agency's sports offerings overall.

"There really wasn't an area that focused on sports and the business of sports," Woodcock said. Launching the practice "wasn't something I had to sell."

He lists Cingular, Visa, SBC Communications, and Gatorade as current clients with an interest in sports marketing.

Clients served under the practice will include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and sports gear maker Schutt Sports.

"By and large, television ratings for sports are declining," Woodcock said. "In some areas, attendance is declining."

At the same time, however, many companies want to reach the sports-fan demographic, and they are looking for ways to leverage partnerships with both teams and leagues.

Woodcock added that there has been significant growth in the sports industry, with leagues adding both men's and women's teams and with the proliferation of sports radio, satellite TV, and the internet.

"More than most industries, the sports industry is fraught with sudden starts, stops, and turns," he said. "A lot of the landscape I'm scanning today didn't exist 10 years ago."

Fleishman's practice will help clients with media and fan outreach, communications strategies, image campaigns, branding, naming rights, and grassroots marketing, among other services.

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