The Inaugural Warsaw Workshop

I was excited to be part of the first Warsaw Workshop. It was fun to participate in an event that my fellow Warsaw MBA classmates helped put together and run. I was impressed with their professionalism and how smoothly everything ran. The theme “technology in sport” was very useful and informative, especially since I am still in the beginning stages of leveraging my own social media outlets for career purposes. The workshop covered using technology and social media for bigger brands, as well as ways to leverage your own personal media image to propel and sell yourself.

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The Warsaw Workshop’s Organizing Committee

They mentioned selling yourself and YOUR brand. We should all be thinking about what we stand for, who we are, and  making sure we are being compassionate and genuine. It is also vital that our personal “brand” is equal and consistent on all mediums. I thought this was very useful information to take forward in my personal career.

The workshop started with an introduction to the panel of five: Rich Campbell (Professor of Marketing, Sonoma State), Nicole Kankam (Managing Director for Marketing, United States Tennis Association), Melissa Marchionna (Senior Manager of Digital Programming, New York Jets), Dave Rosen (Senior Director of Marketing, Bleacher Report), and Russell Scibetti (Vice President, KORE Software).

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There were around 80 participants (students) in the crowd, which made for a more intimate setting—which I really enjoyed. It gave the workshop a more personal experience throughout the entire workshop. The students were mostly undergraduates, but there were a few graduate students sprinkled around as well. I was very impressed with the range of panelists and the positions they held in their current careers. Each panelist had at least one “golden nugget” I was able to take away from the experience as a point to remember in my journey going forward. I think this was one of the most valuable parts of the workshop for me. It’s always reassuring to hear from industry leaders that they were once in my shoes and with a little perseverance and hard work you can (and will) make it in the industry.

The most useful golden nugget I took away from this workshop was that LITTLE things go a long way and have the potential to turn into big things. This ranges from what you do at home to what you do in the work place. Are you paying attention to the little details? Are you doing the little things that other’s in the position wont do? One story was told about a fan having their beer spilt by another person sitting next to her. This fan had posted something on social media about it, and this sports team saw the post and came and brought her a new beer. This gesture isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but made a huge difference to that ONE fan and she bragged about her experience on social media which helped give this team a better brand image with their customers.

My favorite part of the workshop, besides the awesome free lunch, was the interaction at the end. After the Q & A period and lunch, the remaining students (some had to leave for class) were divided into four different groups. Each group was able to brainstorm and solve a real issue one of the panelists was currently facing. I was fortunate enough to be in David Rosen’s group from Bleacher Report. We had a group of around 10-15 students and our goal was to figure out how to market to college-aged students.

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Our goal was to find a marketing campaign that would help spread Bleacher Report’s name and image. Bleacher Report found that as people go through different stages of their lives they have different amounts of time to dedicate to looking through sports articles. As someone goes from college student to full-time career to potential wife and kids their time to research sports articles gets smaller and smaller. They want Bleacher Report to be their main source of information when they only have a chance to browse for 5 minutes as a dad, instead of 45 minutes as a student.

It was refreshing to have a “real life” problem to help solve. There are so many times during our MBA classes we are required to go over case studies and hypothetically problem solve for issues that have already been solved. Case studies definitely provide their own unique learning experiences, but there is a different feel when you have a chance to be part of a solution to a problem that hasn’t yet been solved.

After each group spent 30 minutes brainstorming we decided on our best idea and presented it to the rest of the group. I was “chosen” to present for my group, which was a great experience for me. I have presented a number of times in class, but usually these are cases we have spent time prepping for outside of class with the ability to refine our presentations. This was a much different experience to only have 45 minutes to brainstorm and put together a “presentation”. I enjoyed the challenge of learning and adapting as I went through the presentation. I thought this was the best learning experience I got from the conference.

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Me with my teams’ notes

Our final recommendation was for Bleacher Report to have a weekend “event” to promote their brand. We wanted to tailor it similar to ESPN’s Game Day. Each campus has a unique focal point where the majority of students “hang out”; we decided that the new recreation center would be Oregon’s focal point. As we brainstormed it became very apparent that college students LOVE free stuff, especially shirts. It’s a little crazy what someone will do for a free shirt on a college campus. So we obviously recommended giving away free shirts, as well as promoting different competitions and events to kids focused on what the recreation center has to offer. We thought of doing a three-point contest, and a contest of who could climb the rock wall the fastest, among other competitions. We would use social media to promote these competitions, possibly featuring the winner on the Bleacher Report website, since everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

In the end my group didn’t end up winning the “competition”, but hearing what each panelists had to say about all of four groups was refreshing and a win in my eyes. They all seemed impressed with the different ideas each group came up with and all of them said that they hadn’t thought of many of these ideas. They each said they would take at least one idea back to their respective work places and pitch it to their superior.

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Each team got up and presented their idea to the group

Overall I thought the experience was very useful and fun to be a part of. I am definitely excited to attend the future Warsaw Workshops. The problem solving experience made the Workshop more than just a “talking head” telling us about their experiences, but more about interacting first-hand with sports business professionals and learning new skills from them. I took away a lot from this experience and was proud of my classmates for putting together, and running, such a smooth and fun event.

Written by wscott2@uoregon.edu

Current Warsaw Sports Marketing MBA Candidate class of 2016. I am very passionate about sports. I grew up playing against my four older brothers, which helped me become a decent athlete as well as toughened me up in order to be confident in my ability put up a fight and battle in almost any situation I am put in.