October 30, 2019

NIL Or Not – Storytelling Still The Foundation For All Brand Partnerships

The NCAA ruling regarding Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) is a catalytic event for some who have fought it, and merely a continuance of innovation for others who have been preparing for the day when the rules change.

Modern college athletic departments are essentially in the events and media business, with an existence based on empowering the lives of their student-athletes while also attracting fans, recruits and brand sponsors.

The foundation for a college athletics department’s sports information and communications strategy is still organic storytelling, and it always will be.

Brand sponsorships are currently funding college athletics at a multi-billion dollar clip. It’s this storytelling foundation that has attracted the audience size and demand for content. It has led to this demand from brands to invest their advertising dollars at this volume.

This new NCAA ruling on NIL will create a path for brands who have had to restrict their sponsorship activations to signage in the stadium or a traditional television-radio advertisements. Instead, advertising will be able to activate directly through the student-athlete or student-athletes from the teams they want to sponsor.

This is a massive opportunity for everyone: brands who want to invest advertising dollars to reach larger audiences, college athletics departments who want to grow their events and media business, and, of course, the student-athletes that colleges exist to empower.

It’s a collective opportunity that, over time, will create new opportunities for elite student-athletes as well as for any student-athlete who is active in telling their story on social media.

Some people are worried that the NCAA’s ruling on NIL will create a “me” environment in college sports, but I firmly believe that it will only further the “we” mentality. With social media, everyone has a presence of differing magnitude and influence.

High quality storytelling on a daily basis is what captivates fans, recruits and other audiences that want to engage with your college athletics brand. This is true whether fans experience the stories of their favorite teams and student-athletes at live game events, by watching daily coverage on traditional media channels, or by following the social media channels of college teams and student-athletes.

However, with this reality is another one: the sum of fans who attend live events and watch live broadcasts makes up less than half of a college athletics brand’s total audience.

Many innovative college athletics programs have realized this. The forward-thinking programs have embraced their storytelling to the tune of employing creative teams of various sizes, with full-time photographers, designers, videographers, editors, writers, etc. These digital teams are creating the content to not only tell their college team stories through the team’s respective social media channels, but also to provide the content in real-time — through the INFLCR platform — to the student-athletes whose community audiences extend far beyond those of the team accounts.

The key to executing this strategy is making content available to student-athlete social media account owners in real time where they can apply their voice (via captions) to personalized content choices, on the social media platforms they prefer, and at a timely manner of their choice.

Our business has always existed to serve the storyteller #Ath1etes that our college athletics partners also share a passion to serve.

The result? In less than two years, more than 12,000 student-athlete app users across more than 90 college athletics departments and 450 teams are going to their INFLCR app more than four times per week to grab and share content to social media to tell their story.

With our early growth and recent merger into the Teamworks family, INFLCR is on pace to grow our user footprint to more than 100,000 active student-athlete users from over 200 college athletics brands in the next 18 months.

This is a huge value-add for student-athlete personal brands, and thus, their future careers [beyond sports] during this short window where they’re playing on this stage. This ties into the college athletics department’s reason for existence: To Empower The Lives of Their Student-Athletes.

This approach also positively impacts the overall branding and recruiting initiatives of a college athletics department, which connects to their goal of Attracting Fans and Recruits.

INFLCR is excited to continue supporting the storytelling initiatives that will remain the foundation of every monetization opportunity that will come to our college athletics partners and their student-athletes. We are also excited to unveil new features that will help our partners and their student-athletes activate and track their content monetization storytelling opportunities that will be born out of this NCAA ruling on NIL.

Together, we will work together to empower student-athletes in this new frontier of NIL, so that rising tides continue to lift all boats.

Interested in speaking to Jim? Please contact:

Christine Connelly

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