State Farm, MLB Go To Bat with bloggers

BLOOMINGTON, IL: State Farm's second annual Go To Bat partnership with Major League Baseball kicked off last night at the Home Run Derby at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

BLOOMINGTON, IL: State Farm's second annual Go To Bat partnership with Major League Baseball kicked off last night at the Home Run Derby at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

The Go To Bat program is a grassroots online charitable initiative, which asks fans to support their favorite causes. Participants are encouraged to "swing for the fences" in a simulated batting game. Each week, the fan with the highest batting average will win $18,000 for his or her top charity, and a trip for two to the 2011 World Series.

Weber Shandwick is supporting the program for the second year in a row. The agency has also worked with State Farm on the overall Home Run Derby event for three years, said Steve Johnson, an SVP at the firm.

"Our role was to provide recommendations and activation support around two key areas," he said. "With traditional message development and media outreach components, we assisted in crafting materials, targeting media, and preparing spokespeople."

New to the Go To Bat program this year, said Johnson, was a blogger outreach component, in which five influential bloggers were invited to participate in Home Run Derby activities, and were given exclusive access to celebrity and corporate spokespeople, including Mandy Moore, and Cal Ripken, Jr.

"We targeted bloggers with a focus on specific, but varied areas of interest, including sports, CSR, and mom/dad/family," he added.

During the next 10 weeks of the program, Weber Shandwick will continue supporting the five bloggers and will roll out a second tier of bloggers. The agency is also providing the more than 40 non-profits involved in the initiative with social media tools to continue getting the word out.

"Inviting bloggers to the event and really getting to experience it was a good move," said Carol Springer, director of public affairs at State Farm. "It's very authentic having the bloggers really understand what we are trying to do, and make it real for them, so that they can tell the people who read their blogs firsthand."

Springer declined to disclose the PR budget for the campaign.

The Go To Bat launch was tied to last night's Home Run Derby, in which State Farm and MLB raised $603,000 for a number of charities, including $428,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

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