If you’re looking to raise your club’s profile, a media day may be the way to do it. Karen Drake, secretary/manager at Burnham & Berrow, did just that…
The ‘media’ get a bad rap these days but, when it comes to publicising your golf course, they can be your best friends. With a bit of foresight and planning, you can make contacts at newspapers and magazines to give your club exposure, without necessarily having to shell out large sums. Traditional methods see clubs pay for advertising space – whether that is a conventional advert or advertorial.
But if you think slightly differently, as Burnham & Berrow did, you can potentially gain more exposure at a far lower cost.
Wanting to market the new course work that had taken place over the winter, secretary/manager Karen Drake held a ‘press day’ at the Somerset venue and has since reaped the benefits.
The club have had reams of newsprint and online coverage from reviews and stories about the top 100 course as a result – column inches that would have cost several thousand pounds had they approached it through conventional means.
“We had been very busy during the winter months undertaking major construction works to extend some of the Championship golf holes,” Drake, who is also GCMA South West regional manager, explained. “As a way of ‘showcasing’ the new tees, we invited some of the top golf publications and sports journalists to experience for themselves the new layout, sample the newly refurbished retail facility and our state-of-the- art performance studios.
“It was my marketing director who said we should hold a press day. He had the idea and I ran with it and made it happen. “The reason it worked so well is because we use a publicity agent (Helen Heady). She was able to give me some contacts. Initially, I started writing to the various magazines and publications. “But because I didn’t have a direct relationship with those people, they just either ignored me or refused. I got involved with Helen and she gave me some contacts. “She engineered a lot of it because she had the contacts – and because of her they then accepted.”
For Heady, who runs London- based Heady Public Relations, hosting a media day has two purposes. It brings publicity – in the shape of articles and reviews – but it also forms much-valued connections clubs can use in the future. She explained: “While the ultimate aim of hosting a golf day is to generate some post- event media coverage, it is also an excellent way of engaging and building relationships with journalists, both local and national, on a more personal level than just communicating via email or telephone.
“The experience the journalists had was of a very friendly club and that did us a lot of good”
“Moreover, with first-hand experience of playing the course, journalists are likely to imbue their reviews with more information, while the day will also give them a better insight into the atmosphere of the club and all the other facilities that it has to offer.” Logistically, tees were booked out, banners made, along with meals and bacon rolls. The media, sent a personal invitation, were invited to play a competition as a trio with a board member making up the fourball. There was also a long drive competition using the performance studio and a presentation on the club and its history.
“They (board members) were primed to be very positive about the club,” Drake said. “They talked passionately about it and they were the right people to go with them.
“The experience the journalists had was of a very friendly club and that did us a lot of good.” Those who attended were asked to write articles for features for their publications based on their experience. And that’s where the value really started to tot up.
“There was a cost,” Drake added of the day. “I haven’t really counted it up but it was no more than £1,000 but I reckon we probably got about five to £10,000 of advertorials as a result. “They wrote very favourably of us. We couldn’t have written those articles better ourselves.
“One of the stories that made me feel good was my finance director happened to be at St Andrews with his very important clients that he was treating to a day there. “They were in the little pub by the course and the Golf Now brochure was there and our picture was on the front cover.
He just said how proud he was to suddenly walk in and see that on the table and pick it up, while saying ‘this is my club’. “That was very rewarding.” Drake said the success of the event meant the club would hold another in the future but, asked what advice she would give to others considering doing the same, added that a focus on something to show had to be the driving force.
“We had the new extended 6th, we had the new extended 9th and we were doing some work on the 11th that wasn’t completed at the time. “At least they were able to see what was happening and they saw the photography the head greenkeeper had done.
“It’s definitely worth doing but you have to have something to show – something new on the golf course and to use that as your reason. You pitch to your journalists at the level of standards that you might be as a golf course. “We are lucky to be in the top 100 golf courses and so people want to come and visit us because it’s on the list. “Other clubs, that don’t have that, could easily do a similar thing – but as a lower key affair and invite local journalists to come and sample the day.
“But you do have to put some effort into it. You can’t just invite these people. “You have to have relationships with them in the beginning otherwise they’ll just turn you down.”
Burnham & Berrow
The Championship course at the Somerset venue is a fixture of top 100 lists and Burnham & Berrow have a proud history. The club are renowned for helping JH Taylor, a member of the Great Triumvirate of late 19th and early 20th century golf, which also included Harry Vardon and James Braid, on his way when they hired him as a youngster in 1890. Set among the glorious dunes of the Bristol Channel coast, some of Britain’s most prized golfing events have found a perfect home at Burnham & Berrow – from the Brabazon Trophy to the British Ladies’ Amateur Championship. The traditional out and in links is perfectly complemented by the 9-hole Channel course, a layout considered to be one of the hidden jewels of the South West.
By Marie Taylor