Freihofer connects women runners through social media

Rueckert Advertising & Public Relations and blue.0 Public Relations developed an integrated social media plan to drive participation in the 5K Freihofer's Run for Women.

Client: USATF Adirondack Association (Troy, NY)
Agencies: Rueckert Advertising & Public Relations (Albany, NY) and blue.0 Public Relations (Ballston Spa, NY)
Campaign: 33rd Annual Freihofer's Run for Women Social Media Campaign
Duration: January-July 2011
Budget: $21,000

Charles Freihofer Baking Co. has been the title sponsor of all-female road races in Albany, NY, since 1979. AOR Rueckert Advertising & Public Relations and blue.0 Public Relations, which works on an ongoing project basis, developed an integrated social media plan to drive participation in the 5K Freihofer's Run for Women on June 4.

“Numbers in the 5K have been relatively flat,” explains event director George Regan. “[We needed to add] a viable social media campaign to our traditional PR.”

Strategy
Though blue.0 founder Chris Bowcutt says social media platforms had been in place for a couple of years, efforts were integrated across Facebook, Twitter, freihofersrun.com, and media relations.

“We wanted to create a social media strategy that gives regional runners opportunity to connect with one another and to forge a better connection with the race,” notes Edward Parham, director of PR at Rueckert.

Tactics
Fifteen thousand email addresses of past participants and registrants were tapped for the first time. In January, the team announced via email and Facebook that everyone who registered on freihofersrun.com by certain dates qualified to win iPods. An iPad was awarded when registration hit 4,500. Emails were sent for six contests between January 24 and May 30. Winners were announced on Facebook.

Race news and updates were posted on Facebook and Twitter, and the team tweeted live from the race.

Three personalities from local media sponsors led teams and recruited runners for an inaugural 10-week “Training Challenge.” A trainer, nutritionist, and injury prevention specialist met weekly with teams. A recruitment video was posted on Facebook, the website and the event blog.

Additional videos included a course overview, tips from previous winners, race footage, and interviews with recreational runners.

Professional runners, amateurs, and media personalities wrote content for the blog.

Local and regional outlets and running trades were targeted.

Results
Race participation hit 4,816, up 23% from 2010.

Regan is “ecstatic,” noting he felt lucky to get a 1% increase in previous years.

About 700 stories ran in outlets such as RunnersWorld.com, NBC Sports, and YES Network. Parham reports earned media value increased 48% over 2010 to nearly $7.9 million (374% ROI).

From January to July, 1,033 new Facebook likes were garnered and YouTube videos got 4,004 views (up from 1,168 for the same period in 2010).

Website visits increased from 35,015 for all of 2010 to 60,500 from January to early October 2011.

Future
Regan wants 5,000 finishers next year. The team is discussing expanding the training challenge and promoting a new 3K for children.

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