Tuesday, December 23, 2008

LPGA Commissioner on Social Media, Equality

5 Questions

Families are cutting their sports budgets in the face of a recession, and women's amateur and professional sports struggle for equality more than 35 years after Title IX was passed.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association continues work on equality and marketing their product in an increasingly online world.

Their commissioner graciously took time in the days just before Christmas to talk with the Communication & Cognition blog. We appreciate it!

CAROLYN BIVENS is the commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the first female commissioner in the organization's history. Bivens previously served as president and chief operating officer of Initiative Media North America, the largest media services agency in the United States and part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. Bivens also has held key positions at USA Today and Xerox. In 2002, Electronic Media magazine named her one of the most powerful women in television. Source: LPGA.com.

1) What is the most important issue facing professional women's athletics today?
Equity and parity are two very important issues affecting future growth and success opportunities for women's sports. Whether it is playing the same courses (fields, stadiums, etc.) or the level of prize money and sponsorship dollars, women athletes and leagues must close the gaps with their male counterparts. We are making progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
2) What unique challenges do you face marketing international stars to a largely American audience?
The LPGA has an international membership, which we celebrate, and week-in and week-out the leaderboard is lit up with players from the United States and around the world. We must continue to build player profiles and awareness levels to help introduce the U.S. viewing audience to the great talent and personalities of the LPGA -- no matter where in the world they are from. World-class talent, engaging personalities and increased media exposure will help reach the U.S. audience. A consistent TV platform, which we are working very hard on for 2010 and beyond, would help immensely with these efforts.
3) How much will Annika Sorenstam be missed?
Annika is one of the greatest golfers in history, one of the greatest athletes in history, and one of the greatest role models in our sport. She continues to set the bar for excellence in all statistical categories, and yet to judge Annika only by her on course performance, is to miss the essence of a woman who is the ultimate role model. She's set an incredible standard for the talented young contingent of players who are following in her footsteps on and off the course. While we'll miss her in our tournaments and on our leaderboards, we will look forward to her continued contributions to the game – as a Global Ambassadors in support of the International Golf Federation’s bid to reinstate golf as an Olympic sport, a USGA ambassador, a host of a junior golf tournament as well as her many other business endeavors. As Annika begins an exciting new chapter in her life and in her career, we're also eager to enter a new chapter with Annika, who will always remain one of the LPGA's and one of our game's greatest ambassadors.
4) Is the LPGA involved in marketing through social networking sites?
We recognize the importance of reaching today’s youth and our global fanbase via social networking sites, and continue to explore opportunities for us in this emerging arena. We recently have established Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites.
5) I'm the father of four young girls? Any tips for getting them interested in golf?
Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It also is a wonderful family sport whether one plays or just watches. With four young girls, I recommend you bring them to an LPGA event where you can enjoy hours of family fun in the outdoors watching the best players in the world compete. Also, introducing them to the game via a junior clinic – at an LPGA Tour site or in your hometown -- can be lots of fun as they may make new friends while learning a new sport. I’d also suggest you reach out to your local LPGA Teaching and Club Professional who could perhaps create a family learning session where the whole family can participate together. It’s a sport of a lifetime, and although I didn’t pick up the sport until I was in my 20s I am so glad I did, for the benefits of health, friendships and business are worth it!

The 2009 LPGA schedule includes 31 events in 10 countries (learn more here). Hopefully you'll be watching. The season kicks off Fed. 12-14 at the SBS OPEN at Turtle Bay (Turtle Bay Resort, Palmer Course) in Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job! This feature is turning into something very special. A must-read item.

11:54 AM  

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