Sunday, August 22, 2010

Octagon Internship - Mercury Insurance Open

By Victoria Hoe (SMBA '11)

Spending my summer as an intern with Octagon and their newly purchased tennis tournament in San Diego, the Mercury Insurance Open, proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience. The Mercury Insurance Open is a Premier event on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Televised on the Tennis Channel and ESPN 2, the event comprised one of the 10 events of the Olympus US Open Series. As the Social Media Marketing Coordinator for the tournament, I was tasked with establishing a social media platform to promote and market the tournament, a premier event on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. This proved to be an awesome opportunity, since the tournament had virtually no presence on social media prior to this year, allowing me a great deal of creativity and freedom when it came promoting the event online.
I was fortunate enough to work with our great title sponsor, Mercury Insurance, and our presenting sponsor, Tri-City Medical Center, to develop cross-promotions on social media in an effort to enhance their sponsorship activation. Because return on investment (ROI) is important for any sponsor, I designed promotions, trivia contests, and giveaways in an effort to increase the profile of the event online. I also sought to provide fans with a behind-the-scenes look into a pro tennis tournament by providing live scoring updates from around the grounds, pictures and video uploads, press conference clips, and player features. For those on-site at the event, Twitter and Facebook proved to be an effective means for promoting daily autograph sessions and driving additional foot traffic to sponsor booths. Another interesting aspect of social media that I found (throughout the tournament especially) was the ability to ask fans what they wanted to see/hear/know. As we learned earlier in the year, "social media represent the cheapest focus groups in business."

A final point on my internship with Octagon and the Mercury Insurance Open -- it was absolutely amazing to see how much an event of this size and scope relies on volunteers. Former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neil, once said that "all politics is local;" well, I would contend that most sporting events are local, as well. I've been to my share of tennis tournaments and volunteered at my share of sporting events, but I was absolutely blown away by how integral the volunteers were to the success of this event. From the hundreds of ball kids, tournament services volunteers, ushers, transportation drivers, and ticket takers, I can firmly say that this event would not have happened without their hard work and dedication. This event, so international in nature, featured a Russian player (Svetlana Kuznetsova) and a Polish player (Agniezska Radwanska) in the Finals, and despite relying on the WTA and USTA to brand the tournament internationally, it was really the local support of the La Costa Resort and Spa and the North County tennis community that help the event run behind the scenes. Overall, an excellent experience and one I won't soon forget.

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