Bloggers, News and Golf

Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association has an interesting op-ed piece on the new frontiers in First Amendment freedoms created by bloggers. Clearly, when the First Amendment was written, the Founding Fathers didn’t envision a world where every man owns his own printing press and has access to nearly every man, woman and child on the planet.

The past five years have seen unprecedented changes in the media landscape. Bloggers have been credentialed to major political conventions; played a key role in ending the career of a powerful news broadcaster; derailed a major political campaign, thus shifting power in the U.S. Senate; received media credentials to cover a high-profile federal trial; and, most recently, were embedded in presidential campaigns.

The advent of near-ubiquitous recording devices such as cell phones, iPods and digital cameras, combined with Web-based broadcast platforms such as blogs, video-sharing sites and podcasts, means “news” can be broadcast by anyone to anywhere at a speed of thousands of megabytes per second with an audience reach of infinite size – all at little or no cost. The world is only slowly catching up with implications of this new media landscape where any person is potentially gathering news at any given moment.

Cox also point out how conflicted the sports business is over bloggers:

The Dallas Mavericks banned a local sports reporter from their locker room on the grounds that the writer’s articles only appeared on the newspaper’s sports blog. The LPGA credentialed a blogger one year then refused the same writer the next year on the grounds that the LPGA did not credential bloggers.

I think the question for the LPGA (and PGA) is whether they’ll “get it” in time to take advantage of bloggers. Will they take advantage of the new media and viral marketing? Or will they be left behind?

Here’s why bloggers can help the Tours: Bloggers create buzz. Bloggers promote products (and the “Tours” are a product). Bloggers have faster news cycle than print journalists. And a blogger’s news cycle is longer. When print news has gone on to the next event, bloggers still will be writing about their experiences at an event. And long after the newspapers and magazines are in the dump, bloggers’ articles still will be available on the net.

Of course, the Tours can’t credential every Tom, Dick and Jane who signs up for a Google Blogger account, but there are enough well established golf blogs out there that top ones could be given a chance. It wouldn’t take much, for example, for the LPGA to give GolfBlogger a media pass to the Jamie Farr in Toledo. After five years of blogging and three thousand posts, it should be pretty clear that GolfBlogger isn’t some sort of scam to get free tickets. The same thing applies to the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills this summer. I’m local. I can cover it. Why not?

(Notice to PGA … contact me. I’d love to get a media pass to the PGA Championship. I live within an hour. I have nothing else to do that week.)

The manufacturers also should take full advantage of bloggers. They pay millions to add golf pros to their “staffs.” But I don’t know anyone who plays a club just because a pro does. Even casual golfers know that the pros’ games are on an entirely different level. The clubs they play are not suitable for an amateur.

Instead, my golfing friends rely on each other for advice. When looking for a new club, they try what their playing partners have in their bag. They ask for advice from the guys in the league. And judging from the traffic I get from the search engines, they scour the internet to see what “real people” say about the equipment they’re considering. I know that when I decide to buy a piece of golf equipment, I first check to see what my fellow bloggers have written about it. Their opinion means so much more to me than the endorsement of Tour pro.

So how about signing up bloggers as members of the Titleist or Callaway “staffs”? A few years ago, I got some clubs from TaylorMade to try out. I played them (still do), wrote about them, and those articles still are available to readers. But even more importantly, I am still showing them to my friends. Just last week, my partner asked to try the pitching wedge (he had left his behind). He liked it so much that he’s going to try to find a set to replace his. There’s a multiplier effect at work there.

All of the research I’ve seen suggests that viral marketing works. And Bloggers, YouTubers, MySpacers are the gateway to the social networks that drive that strategy.

The LPGA, in particular, ought to wake up.

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