How to organize a basketball tournament

Branded Basketballs and More: How to Organize Basketball Tournaments for PR

Like a perfect free throw right at the buzzer, a well-executed PR campaign can bring applause and attention from all the right people.

In fact, the two are more closely related than you might think. Both basketball and marketing require teamwork, strategic thinking and pre-planning to be successful. That’s why the court is an ideal place to showcase your brand and attract a new fanbase.

Have you considered hosting basketball tournaments to build and boost your PR efforts? If so, you may have realized that, while they can be a hefty undertaking, they’re well worth it in the end. Maximizing your ROI simply requires laying the groundwork and organization at the beginning, so when game day arrives, you can sit back and join the bleachers of awe-struck spectators.

Ready to learn more about how to host these events so they go off without a hitch? Let’s play ball!

Why Advertise through Basketball Tournaments?

With the rise of digitalization, much of a company’s outreach efforts can be completed virtually. From email newsletter blasts to social media contests, there is no limit to how a brand can use online tools to interact with its slew of loyal followers.

Why, then, should you spend money on hosting local basketball tournaments? The answer is simple: Because your audience craves it. Even the millennial generation, who never knew a world without some form of the internet, prefers in-person interaction over digital correspondence any day of the week.

In fact, only 1% of customers in this demographic want to contact a brand online for help with a customer support issue. Rather, they want to connect with a real person, either over the phone or in person.

In short, they’re stimulated by genuine interactions, and seek them out whenever possible. Basketball tournaments offer the ultimate in fast-paced, hands-on synergy. They’re also excellent places to get your brand in front of as many people as possible.

Though the numbers are smaller and more difficult to track than national statistics, consider the 705,000 people who paid to attend the NCAA college basketball tournament games in 2017 alone. If even a fraction of those sports lovers are interested and invested in their local community games, you’ll have an opportunity to grow your brand recognition in a cinch.

Yet, before you invest money and time into this type of campaign, it’s helpful to know how to organize one. Let’s review the steps required to get started.

Initial Tournament Pre-Planning

Before you can create a ton of cool basketball stuff and start promoting the event, you’ll need to take care of a few logistics first.

Picking a Location and Date

Start by determining where you’re going to host the tournament, and when. Take a look at your local community calendar to determine the dates that other major events are being held so yours doesn’t create a conflict.

Sometimes, the time of year will help determine the tournament timeframe. For instance, you may host one around the holidays or to correspond with March Madness. Or, you may be hosting a tournament to select a local league champion. In this case, the event will be held at the end of the season.

Once you have the date nailed down, find the venue and book it as early as possible to secure your spot.

Finding Your Competitors

There’s no basketball tournament without a little friendly competition. To pack the stands and build buzz, you’ll need to find teams to compete against each other.

Consider who you’re creating the tournament for. Is it to support local youth players? What about an adult recreational league? If you have free reign here, consider the type of audience members who would be the most receptive to your brand campaign, and use that knowledge to help guide your decision.

Create a Website

Once you’ve determined the teams that will be playing at the event, make it easy for them to register. The simplest way to do this is to create an online form wherein they can input their details and sign up virtually.

To this end, it’s helpful to create a simple website for the tournament. Here, you’ll list the details of the event, how to get there, the playing times, player bios and more. If you don’t have the bandwidth to create a full-blown site, at least create a social media page detailing the event.

You can also post registration information at local schools, recreational centers, youth clubs, and the local parks and recreation department. To avoid being surprised by latecomers, be sure to set formal registration guidelines and establish a strict cutoff date to sign up. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to plan out the schedule.

Hire Referees

If you’re hosting a basketball tournament, you’ll want it to be professional as possible, even if it’s for a local children’s league. To this end, search out local officiating associations to find certified referees to oversee the event.

Though this is a small step, it’s one that can be easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle of planning, so it’s helpful to go ahead and complete it as soon as you have the dates, location, and teams determined.

Draw a Schedule

There’s nothing like a bunch of teams rushing the court at once in a confused frenzy to ruin a perfectly good basketball tournament. To ensure that things run smoothly, you’ll need a pre-determined schedule of playing times.

Be sure to allow plenty of time for each team to warm up and don’t forget to account for halftimes, as well as time-outs and other mid-game pauses.

Set Up Concessions

Remember, fans and players alike need to eat, especially during a lengthy tournament. Determine the kinds of items you’ll have on hand, both for purchase and to provide participants. Remember, the healthier the better, especially when you’re feeding hungry athletes.

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

In the days and weeks before the big event, you’ll have the opportunity to get the word out! This time is critical to ensuring plenty of people show up to take in the tournament.

Community Outreach

From radio broadcasts to local print advertising, you’ll want to promote the competition in as many local ways as you can, as cost-effectively as possible.

Create flyers and post them in high-traffic locations around town. Encourage partnering organizations to post details about the events on their websites and social media profiles. Take out an advertisement spot in your hometown newspaper or snag a 30-second interview spot on the evening news.

One of the most effective and affordable ways to spread the word and get in front of local viewers? Invest in local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics.

Local SEO

In short, local SEO focuses on a specific and immediate location or region. It allows Google and other major search engines to filter out events that are geographically far from where the web user is. For instance, someone in Charlotte, NC searching online for “basketball tournaments near me” wouldn’t want to see information on a tournament in Seattle, WA, and vice versa.

To ensure your event shows up at the top of the results page, creating a website is a great first step. From there, you should fine-tune the details and descriptions you post. Make sure they are unique to your event and not copied from somewhere else on the web.

Then, include plenty of details so the online event page is as thorough as possible. While you’re doing this, consider what keywords people will be typing into their browsers to find the tournament and use them strategically throughout your content. Using the aforementioned example, you might title your event “Company X: Charlotte, NC Basketball Tournament.” Resist the urge to spam viewers with these keywords every few sentences or so, as you’ll get pinged.

Creating Branded Items

Having your company name associated with hosting the tournament is a great way to build press. Yet, to drive the point home, you should create promotional, branded materials to use and hand out during the games.

Full-Sized Branded Basketballs

For an event like this, full-size branded basketballs are perfect! You can customize these with your promotional logo and imprint. You can even tailor the font type and color to meet your requirements.

Keep in mind there is a difference between game-quality basketballs, tournament-quality ones and ones designed to hold autographs. Take the time to research the perfect, full-size basketballs for your needs. If you want your branded basketballs to be used during the tournament itself, rubber basketballs with your logo on them are the way to go.

You may also want to have a few autograph basketballs on hand to give away. Consider holding a friendly audience competition to see who wins these take-home souvenirs. You can also create a raffle drawing around them. At the end of the game, players from the winning team can sign and deliver them to the lucky winners.

Mini Branded Basketballs

Working with a tight budget? If so, you can still go the branded basketballs route. In this case, mini branded basketballs might be a better fit. Print your company’s logo on them and toss them into the crowd during halftime! Or, you can sell them for a low cost at the concession stand.

Regardless of what kind of branded basketballs you choose, these are a wise choice because they’re unlikely to get tossed in the trash on the way out to the parking lot. Rather, they’re fun, usable collector’s items that will get plenty of use or admiration for years to come. That’s a ton of brand exposure for a minimal investment.

Other Branded Items

From sports jerseys and t-shirts to coffee cozies and hats, there is a slew of promotional materials you can pick from to share your brand at the tournament.  Consider what your audience would be most interested in, and go from there! You can find cost-savings advantages when you order in bulk, so go ahead and order plenty to sell or give away.

Awards and Trophies

At the end of the tournament, you’ll get to help crown a winner! Don’t forget to order trophies, plaques, medals or certificates to commemorate the win. When you do, you can also include your company’s name somewhere on the item. This can be a subtle way to create a positive brand association.

Partner with a Professional for Further Support

Does the idea of planning a tournament for PR purposes intimidate you? If so, there are plenty of professional organizations that can help you navigate the process.

Check with the U.S. Basketball Association for more fundraising information and resources. You can also contact the Amateur Athletic Union for help with the initial planning stages.

While planning and organizing the tournament is one thing, there are other details to consider as well, including buying insurance and creating brackets. With so much on their plate already, a marketing manager might not have the bandwidth to take care of these details, and allowing an expert to streamline the process can eliminate much of that stress.

Find the Promotional Items Your Brand Needs

At the end of the day, company-hosted basketball tournaments have a two-fold intent. They’re meant to give recognition and exposure to both the players and coaches themselves, as well as the brand behind the event.

Without promotional, branded items on hand, your company just put a substantial amount of time, money and legwork into planning a major tournament event with no return in sight. These are where you build brand recognition, earn new devotees, and introduce your name to an audience full of people who might be receptive to your messaging. You should capitalize on their full attention.

The good news? Promotional items are affordable and easy to procure. If you’re looking to find some for your next event, you’ve come to the right place.

Check out our range of basketball gear and place an order today. Your next event will be a slam dunk!

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