US Speedskating hopes spotlight remains after Olympics

FARGO, ND: US Speedskating hopes to build interest in the sport and increase its membership through a social media campaign around this year's Winter Olympic Games.

FARGO, ND: US Speedskating hopes to build interest in the sport and increase its membership through a social media campaign around this year's Winter Olympic Games. The team, which includes Olympic medal-winners Apolo Anton Ohno and Shani Davis, is using Twitter, Facebook, and its Web site to interact with fans now in hopes of extending the public's interest in the sport going forward.

"We have to capitalize on that short time we do have in the spotlight to try and get key messages out as much as possible," said Brad Goskowicz, president of US Speedskating. "We don't have a lot of resources where we can do other types of campaigns that are more expensive. So it really is a big piece of our marketing program."

The goal of this outreach is to build more interest in the sport and also get more members for US Speedskating, which is the overall governing body for the sport in the US. Additionally, the team is looking for new sponsors, after longtime sponsor Dutch Bank went bankrupt last year and Stephen Colbert stepped in temporarily.

"In a very short time, Stephen plugged that [funding] hole for us, and we were fine going into these Games," Goskowicz said. "It's been a very good partnership for us, as well as for him, leading up to the Games." Colbert has been broadcasting The Colbert Report from Vancouver during the Olympics.

The athletes are using their own social media networks, as well as feeding content through the team's social media pages, to provide photos and commentary from Vancouver. US Speedskating has a $100,000 PR budget for the 2009-2010 season, and works with The Flint Group for PR.

In the month that US Speedskating has had a social media presence, the team gained 3,000 Facebook fans and more than 1,900 followers on Twitter. Goskowicz said the team will continue to leverage its social media fan base and adding more online content after the Olympics.

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