SBJ/September 26-October 2, 2011/Franchises

Phoenix Suns hiring social media sideline reporter to track hot topics during televised home games

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The Phoenix Suns are boosting their social media strategy by offering a discounted ticket package for social media users and adding a social media sideline reporter during homes games at US Airways Center.

Both are first-time efforts for the club, team officials said.

Officials said the Suns will be the first NBA club to hire a dedicated social media sideline reporter for its home game broadcasts, which are shown on Fox Sports Arizona. It’s a new twist for one of the more active NBA teams using social media as a major marketing tool.

“We will still have our sideline reporter, but the [social media sideline] reporter is a new addition,” said Jeramie McPeek, vice president of digital for the Suns. “We want to try something different and add a new element and a social media personality into the broadcasts. Our fans [using social media] are most active and engaged about the Suns during games.”

The team’s plan for the reporter will include providing updates on where Suns topics are trending on social media during games, reading tweets and adding other social media game broadcast enhancements, McPeek said.

In addition, the team’s sideline social media reporter will be used throughout the team’s in-game presentation.
The team is expecting to sign a presenting sponsor for the new social media feature.

The Suns also will offer social media users a 5 percent discount for a five-game ticket package. In past seasons, the Suns offered one-off discounts to social media users, but this year they are planning theme nights for users of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Google+.

The Suns also recently created a new front-office position dedicated to their social media efforts by hiring Greg Esposito, a columnist for ArizonaSports.com, as the team’s social media specialist.

Barring any disruption to the NBA’s regular season because of the NBA lockout, the Suns are scheduled to open their home season at US Airways Center on Nov. 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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