Running with Social Media at Philly Marathon

SPRYTE’s Online Storytelling Shines During Race Weekend

Like many communications consultants before us, “social media” was part of our Statement of Work on a very recent government engagement, and at the start of the contract earlier this year, it was relatively undefined.

As experienced healthcare communicators, SPRYTE has been the health system spokesperson and we’ve used earned media, not paid advertising, to deliver bodies to programs from scientific thought leadership panels to high profile entertainment fundraising.

Little did we know what joy we would personally experience and how well our public relations background had prepared us for taking the reigns as the voice of one of America’s top 10 marathons!

That’s right.  Beginning on the eve of the 2017 AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) Marathon Weekend, SPRYTE Communications became @philly_marathon on Twitter and the lead responder on the Philadelphia Marathon Facebook page.

We’re still sending love to triumphant runners by retweeting and liking their photos with words of encouragement and by answering their questions about times, medals and shirts.

But what we found so electrifying was the power of the message in the moment during Marathon Weekend.

SPRYTE was blown away by the reach and engagement of our messaging but we were also humbled by the giant responsibility we had as a guardian of the more than 25,000 registrants and an army of Philadelphia City personnel and volunteers.

And by the way, we didn’t delegate to juniors. Everything was handled on-site by pros with more than 25 years in the communications workforce. We may need our reading glasses while composing copy on a smart phone but rest assured, there are no typos and our extraordinary storytelling skills combined with our consumer brand-building expertise really delivered.

Here are three of our favorite posts on the 2017 AACR Philadelphia Marathon Weekend Facebook page:

We Caught the Moment:  Sarah Kiptoo is First Woman to Cross the Finish Line:  SPRYTE was at the Marathon finish line with dozens of media cameras and professional photographers. But the photo we shot one second before Sarah Kiptoo broke the tape was posted on Facebook while she was crossing it.  Everybody had great shots to relish later. Our shot was now! It was instant. (Stats as of noon 12.4.17: 9,242 people reached; 508 Likes; 15 Comments.)

Giving Prime Time Exposure to the Presenting Sponsor:  We gave continued exposure to 2017 Marathon Weekend presenting sponsor, the American Association for Cancer Research Foundation, throughout the weekend.  On behalf of the Philadelphia Marathon and the City of Philadelphia, we leveraged our social media channels to thank the AACR for their cancer research mission and their partnership for the Marathon. AACR Foundation Executive Director Mitch Stoller ran the Half Marathon on Saturday and presented the Marathon medals on Sunday. Check out all the great photos of him that are posted on the AACR Philadelphia Marathon Facebook page.

We Had to Tell a Story Without the Media:  After a heart attack at Mile 23 at age 38 in 2009, Ericka Emerson returned to the Philadelphia Marathon to conquer it. We worked with one of Ericka’s close friends on possible earned media opportunities for several months in advance of the 2017 Marathon. But when Marathon Weekend finally arrived, logistical challenges with all parties prevented a major print or broadcast story. So, SPRYTE stepped up and told the incredible story ourselves with an 11th hour reunion photo of Ericka and the four Philadelphia first responders who saved her life back in 2009.  The inspirational story, which reflects so well upon the City of Philadelphia, and the wonderful photo are still getting noticed.  It gives us chills every time we read it. (Stats as of noon 12.4.17: 13,296 people reached; 552 Likes; 32 Shares; 43 Comments.)

Thanks to our engagement for the 2017 AACR Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, SPRYTE experienced social media management in a new way for our firm.  We are smitten and we think we have a lot of potential. Let us know if you agree. We know “We Did It!” How do you think we did?

Facebook Live

The Tactic of the Hour

SPRYTE Communications was lucky to attend PRNews’  “Big 4 Social Media Conference” in San Francisco in August. Of course, Facebook is one of the big four.  Facebook Live was the topic of one of the sessions and discussed in at least three others.

We realized on the plane back to Philly that there was a lot of conflicting guidance, especially related to three points:

  1. Advance Notice: One of the presenters said, if you’re going to go to the trouble of producing a Facebook Live session, you should start talking about it far in advance so as many viewers as possible plan to tune in. Another quipped, don’t talk about it in advance, let people find and delight in it in the moment. Still another recommended hyping early the day of and up until the video rolls. 
  1. Production Quality: Is it a fleeting moment in time where poor production quality is proof of your authenticity or, because you’re a fierce guardian of your brand with evolved standards, should the production quality reflect your brand’s high quality? 
  1. The Why: Does the organization truly have a strategy for Facebook Live and why they allot the resources to produce them? Or, do they just have resources they’re throwing around because they can afford to be experimental? At the Conference, we spent 15 minutes watching a video of two Buzzfeed staffers putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it burst all over the company kitchen. This was an example of Buzzfeed connecting with its audience and showing rather than telling its brand promise to entertain millennials.

As part of its work on behalf of the City of Philadelphia, SPRYTE collaborated recently with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) on a media information event for the purpose of a major news announcement. While SPRYTE encouraged broadcast and print media to cover the event, AACR’s digital communications staff was on the scene with lights, camera and sound producing a Facebook Live session complete with interviews. And in case you missed it, you can find it archived on AACR’s Facebook page. The ability to archive videos on your Facebook page is another reason to consider Facebook Live.

As SPRYTE works with its healthcare clients to plan their 2018 communications programs, Facebook Live is a tactic we will likely recommend, if it’s a good way to bring one of our business strategies to life and we can measure the outcomes.