A professional squash tournament…in New York City…in the middle of Grand Central Terminal! As crazy as that sounds, it's real and Sharp had the honor of tackling the PR and social media duties for the famed 2015 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
Our challenge was to get media and consumers interested in a sport that isn't mainstream in the U.S. We dove right in to become fast experts in squash and used the Tournament's uniqueness, the glamorous venue, and the participation of the world's top-ranked professional squash players to catch the attention of our targets. The stunning visual of the cutting-edge glass court under the iconic chandeliers in Vanderbilt Hall would serve as our centerpiece, and "Did You Know" facts (such as squash being the number one healthiest sport to play according to Forbes) would make the sport more accessible.
On the PR front, our challenge was to raise awareness for the Tournament in affluent media—a category that doesn't typically have space reserved for covering world-class squash. That didn't deter us. We showed our creative chops by pitching professional squash athletes and experts to coveted columns, such as The Wall Street Journal's "What's in your Bag," which asks frequent travelers to share their packing secrets. Ramy Ashour of Egypt was the perfect subject, since as a top-ranked squash athlete he travels around the globe every year, hopping from tournament to tournament.
The hits kept coming with top-tier and on-target media driving readers to the Tournament, including Town & Country, Bloomberg, The New York Times, New York magazine, Avenue, New York Observer, DuJour, Manhattan, Time Out New York and broadcast segments on NBC New York, NY1 and WPIX.
We were impressed with the Tournament's charitable partners, StreetSquash and CitySquash, and hit the phones to land a national story featuring a mentor/mentee pair playing with the pros on the Tournament of Champions court on NBCNews.com.Sharp kept the buzz alive with a social media strategy that included the "Tweet for a Seat" social media contest, which invited fans to show us their victory stance for a chance to win a VIP package to the Finals. The contest got a great response and two very happy winners.But the social media team didn't stop there. They created guidelines to encourage athletes, partners and sponsors to post about the Tournament in a consistent and on-message manner, launched the Tournament's Instagram account and executed a Facebook and Twitter advertising strategy to reach just the right fans.
We loved getting to know the tight-knit squash community during this assignment and wouldn't be surprised if we ran into them on the court in the near future. We just need some more practice first!