The PGA of America hired Dixon Schwabl to manage PR and social media efforts in 2012 to promote the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY.
The primary goals were to sell out tickets and corporate hospitality suites/tents, secure 3,800 volunteer positions and raise general awareness within a 300-mile radius of Oak Hill Country Club.
Dixon Schwabl’s approach was to fully integrate PR with digital
and social media to increase awareness of and attendance at
the 95th PGA Championship.
Our social media campaign took a “think like a fan” approach. (Which wasn’t hard, as most of us are true-blue fans.) We gave fans what they wanted: a chance to go behind the scenes, keep up with breaking news, access exclusive content, have fun and be brought to the tournament grounds—at least virtually. We knew fans wanted to be heard, so we actively listened and made sure they knew it, too.
We created a steady stream of PGA Championship news through press releases, media alerts, photo opps, guerrilla PR stunts, and a robust social media presence that listened to and engaged with fans on a daily basis. DS pushed consistent messaging to the media to generate awareness, pre-event enthusiasm, sales and volunteers.
Other major tactics included a regional media tour of NYS and Ontario, Canada, and Golf Balls on Parade—5’ fiberglass golf balls painted by local artists and sold to area businesses. We also conducted media and tourism receptions in Toronto, a PGA History exhibit featuring rare artifacts at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, and a Media Day with 2017 champion Rory McIlroy.
All of The PGA of America’s goals were met well before golf season even arrived in upstate New York. All tickets sold out months early. And all 3,800 volunteer positions were quickly filled. Corporate hospitality was 95% sold six months out, and by March 2013, the PGA had successfully implemented a corporate hospitality expansion plan. In addition, The PGA of America secured support from Taste NY, a NYS program that put up a tent where fans from across the world were able to sample NYS food and wine for free.
From January to August 2013, DS generated nearly $15 million in ad value and nearly 318 million impressions. The publicity value garnered from print, online and broadcast media delivered an ROI of nearly a 273:1. In one year, the PGA Championship’s social media audience grew by 160% (16,172 to 42,092). When Facebook and search engine marketing campaigns were running, average daily ticket sales increased by more than 85%.
Record crowds turned out for Championship week,
and more than 1 billion PR impressions were generated.
Since the 95th PGA Championship, DS has assisted the PGA as follows:
Press conference to announce the 2023 PGA Championship
Continued support of the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf
Club in Springfield, NJ
2016 PGA Championship
Social media and media support for this event generated a 5.25:1 ROI, generating $315,327.85 in ticket sales
Press conference to announce 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship