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 we were listening.
We created a steady stream of PGA Championship news through press releases, media alerts, photo ops, 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 PGA of America’s goals were met well before golf season arrived in upstate New York. All tickets were sold months in advance and corporate hospitality suites were 95% booked six months out. In addition, the PGA of America also secured support from Taste NY, a NYS program whereby fans from around the world were able to sample NYS food and wine for free.
From January to August 2013, DS generated nearly 318 million impressions. The publicity value garnered from print, online and broadcast media delivered an ROI of approximately 273:1. In one year, the PGA Championship’s social media audience grew by 160%. 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 continued to assist the PGA:
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 an ROI of 5.25:1.
Press conference to announce 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship