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How a New Alliance of Companies Aims to Maximize Athlete-Driven Content

The trio of athlete media and marketing platforms converge to use their strengths in tandem to provide a more comprehensive outline for athlete media campaigns.

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Photo credit: opendorse

(opendorse is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.)

Today’s athletes play within a world that craves content at an ever-growing rate. They just so happen to exist in a time when social media is rapidly expanding and has vastly evolved since tweets, posts, and shares were being touted as part of the new communication boom.

And yet, professional athletes have still been trying feverishly to figure out the correct content strategy to follow, or they have turned to untrusted third parties to broker sponsorship deals.

Luckily, for a fortunate crop of athletes, they will be able to benefit from a full rendering of player-driven social platforms.

This week, Australian-based athlete media and marketing platforms PlayersVoice and Pickstar are joining forces with U.S.-founded opendorse to help jointly promote and educate the market on the Athlete Generated Media category (AGM).

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Monetizable Social Assets With Jonah Ballow

While each company aims to help athletes on social, they all serve distinct functions that help contribute to a well-rounded social dynamic. According to opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence, the different roles that each company plays will ultimately allow the trio to maximize each other’s core strengths.

“All three of these companies will be moving at once all together,” said Lawrence. “The most digital-savvy athletes are getting requests from the top sponsors and brands to partner with them. This fluid partnership will allow for athletes’ content to be more forward facing and seamlessly integrated than ever before.”

The companies will all work together to maximize content flow. PlayersVoice celebrates elite athletes — and in partnership with them, have built the new home for rich and raw sports storytelling.

PickStar works with aligning with brands and companies to help forge campaigns that are a natural fit for today’s athlete. The site helps to facilitate athletes to be utilized as guest speakers, social influencers, on-site marketing analysts and more. The partnership between these three companies will generate even more relationships for PickStar to work with in order to maximize opportunities for athlete involvement.

Opendorse helps to facilitate the infrastructure to help athletes publish content from partners. The platform exists to help athletes publish content easily and seamlessly. In turn, it allows players to be more accessible and engaging with their fans. With real-time analytics being supplied, the company also allows for partners to see up-to-date results on how their content is performing, thus helping them to stay up to date on their social strategies.

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Talking Paid Social With Angela Welchert

Essentially, PlayersVoice is on the forefront of athlete-led content creation, PickStar is providing a marketplace to match athletes with brands, while opendorse is serving as a behind-the-scenes content distribution platform. With these three media companies working in tandem, it allows for growth towards athlete-driven media and more authentic content being created.

According to Lawrence, the process of aligning with the Australia-based companies was a natural fit.

“The process was forged over the last few months,” said Lawrence. “The three of these companies all shared a common vision as the goal is to work together to maximize athlete success. We shared a united front during the building process. It allows for each of us to specialize in what we each do best under one common mission.”

For these companies, the timing aligned well to come together and help to grow the current and future athletic superstars while also acting as agents of evolution and forward thinking within the social media landscape.

“It’s a challenging task ahead,” said Lawrence. “Yet it is a strong example of the maturation of the market, where it is big enough that you don’t necessarily have to do all of the things yourself. We’ve got two partners in this alignment who specialize in their field of athlete-driven social media. I’m excited what this means for our industry.”

(opendorse is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.)

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Walking Through The AAF’s Bankruptcy Declaration

With the Alliance of American Football filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, stakeholders in the short-lived league could be waiting a while to get paid.

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Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

(*Citrin Cooperman is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

The collapse of the Alliance of American Football (“AAF”) has led to the filing of multiple lawsuits against the AAF as well as the AAF filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas. There were early signs that the AAF was having financial difficulties when it needed cash in the middle of the season to meet its operational demands such as payroll.  

“When the AAF suspended its operations in early April, it left many, including players and vendors, wondering if and when they would get paid,” says Maryann Veytsman a director in the Valuation and Forensic Services practice at assurance, tax, and advisory firm Citrin Cooperman. “Collecting unpaid salary and/or payments will depend on how many assets the AAF has and what type of creditor each person or company is deemed to be per the Bankruptcy Code.”

There are two basic types of business bankruptcies:  Chapter 7 (liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization).  

“Businesses such as the AAF typically file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation if the business has no viable future,” Veytsman continues. “If restructuring is not an option, likely because the business’ debts are so large and the business does not have substantial assets, then liquidation is necessary. This typically leads to the business being dissolved.”

READ MORE: AAF Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can take many months or even years to complete, a trustee is appointed by the bankruptcy court. The trustee takes possession of the business’ assets and distributes them among the creditors. After the assets are distributed, the trustee and employees are paid.  

“If the AAF had a realistic chance to succeed, then it could have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” Veytsman believes. “In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a company formulates a plan of reorganization, which outlines how it will pay its creditors. The payments to creditors are typically made over a period of time and may even exceed ten-to-twenty years. The creditors have to vote on the plan, and the court will approve the plan if it is found to be fair and equitable.”

Per the Bankruptcy Code, a business’ assets are distributed in the following order:

  1. Secured creditors are paid first because their money is guaranteed or “secured” by collateral or contract.  
  2. Unsecured creditors are paid second. Unsecured claims can be priority or non-priority claims. 
    • Priority unsecured claims are administrative expenses related to the bankruptcy such as trustee fees, wages and salaries, contributions to an employment plan and taxes owed to the government.
    • Non-priority unsecured claims are all other unsecured claims that are not listed as a priority in the Bankruptcy Code and typically include bank lenders, suppliers and investors with unsecured claims.
  3. General creditors are paid last. General creditors are typically made up of stockholders and shareholders and are paid if there is any money left after paying the previous two groups of creditors.

“Secured creditors get cash first and are typically paid in full while the unsecured claims receive a pro rata share of their debt,” explains Veytsman. “However, some unsecured creditors get priority over other unsecured creditors per the Bankruptcy Code. The priority claims related to AAF would likely be any administrative expenses related to the bankruptcy such as trustee fees, wages and salaries, contributions to an employee benefit plan and taxes.

However, wages and salaries (including commissions and vacation) are only a priority claim up to a maximum of $13,650 as of April 2019 per employee for any money earned within 180 days before the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition or the date of the cessation of the debtor’s business.”

READ MORE: Mike Trout Will Pay Nearly $57 Million in State Taxes Per His New Contract

As result of what Veytsman outlines, the league’s former employees are not guaranteed all of the money that they earned or was promised to them. Employees may, however, be due additional monies if the AAF failed to follow The Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The WARN Act mandates that employers with 100 or more employees give employees 60-days advance notice of layoffs or closure. If they don’t, employees will be entitled to an additional claim for back pay and benefits for the number of days for which notice was not given.

Any expenses the players incurred during travel for the AAF, such as hotel rooms, will likely be unsecured claims. As a result, they will likely receive little to no reimbursement. The hotels themselves are also unlikely to recoup the money owed to them. However, if AAF employees paid for any expenses using a corporate card, then it is unlikely that the credit card issuers would look for payment from the employees specifically if the employees filed expense reports with the AAF and followed company procedures.

The bottom line? As the proceedings unfold, it could be a while before all parties receive their due payments.

Citrin Cooperman guides the sports world’s best companies and individuals when it comes to traditional accounting and tax support, guidance on developing business and financial plans, and much more. Visit their website to learn more.

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Oklahoma Baseball Use Effective Communication To Create Positive On-Campus Experiences

The Oklahoma Sooners utilize Teamworks to communicate on game day and beyond with visiting teams, umpires, alumni, and scouts.

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(*Teamworks is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

Teams within college athletics attempt to create a positive impression of their program and their university at large by ensuring that everyone who makes their way to campus has a positive experience. While the benefits are clear, achieving it can be easier said than done. Effective communication on the part of the program and staff is essential in order to make this happen.

Like many Teamworks partners, the Oklahoma Sooners use the platform to communicate with their own players regularly, but they also see broader potential for the technology. Beyond connecting with the team, the Sooners utilize Teamworks to communicate on game day and beyond with visiting teams, umpires, alumni, and scouts.

READ MORE:  How The UNC Tar Heels Organized Roy Williams’ Court Dedication

“We take it a step further to try to communicate with parents,” says director of baseball operations Ryan Gaines, “Whether it’s related to comp tickets, game times, our new clear bag policy at the stadium — things like that to help parents know what is going on.”

The NCAA baseball season runs February to June, months when the weather can be a bit unpredictable across the United States. It’s not uncommon for game times or locations to be updated in an effort to get games in. Consequently, the Sooners see value in being able to provide up-to-the-minute updates to fans. Parents especially appreciate this process that allows them to receive info via text and/or email.

When it comes to communication, Gaines has found that being able to send messages as texts as opposed to emails has made his staff and their efforts all the more effective.

“I can tell you that I don’t read every email that I get,” he says. “But I do read every text message. So if I can communicate and schedule out text messages to people that are scheduled to be on campus for one reason or another, it allows us to provide a type of customer service that they might not necessarily get from another baseball program.”

“What’s especially convenient for me is being able to schedule posts and reminders to send to people,” Gaines says. “It’s an easy way to plan effectively,”

Effective communication also comes in handy with last minute changes to the schedule. For example, if a game is scheduled to begin at five and gets delayed until seven, Gaines makes a point to quickly let parents and scouts know in order to save them the time, effort, and fuel it would take to get to campus only to have to leave and come back later.

Beyond game days, the OU baseball staff benefits from good communication while bringing recruits to campus for official visits. The visit is the first real opportunity to show recruits and signees what goes on in the daily life of an OU student-athlete. A smooth experience is essential. Gaines once again utilizes Teamworks to provide recruits and their parents with an itinerary for their visit as well as any necessary schedule updates to ensure everything goes according to plan.

“Really, the thing that we try to stress to parents and recruits/signees on their official visits is how important it is that they learn how to use tools that we use, like Teamworks, before they move in on-campus,” Gaines says.

The point of these visits is to allow students to get accustomed to the Sooner way of life. A big part of this is instilling a sense of independence into new players.

READ MORE: Miami Hurricanes Leverage Technology To Prepare For Actual Hurricanes

“A lot of times, parents try to do everything for their kids,” says Gaines. “We try to let parents know that their kids are going to be expected to do a lot of things on their own when they get here. So these are some of the ways that we communicate with them and the quicker that they learn how to do it themselves, the better off they are going to be.”  

Gaines also finds that parents are “all smiles” when they learn that independence is both expected and achievable for their children as members of the Sooners’ program.

“As their children get older, parents tend to want to throw them out of the nest a little bit and make sure that they are flying. So the parents find a certain level of comfort in knowing that we’re helping their children get to that point.

“Plus, when a parent drops off their child at any event or location, that level of communication makes the parent feel more secure about dropping off the child. That’s the piece of it that for me, I feel like sets us apart from other programs.”

To learn more about how Teamworks helps empower the sports world’s best, visit Teamworks.com today.

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The Kansas City Royals Partner With StellarAlgo To Learn More About Their Fans

The Kansas City Royals will now leverage StellarAlgo’s Customer Data Platform to inform the organization’s marketing and sales strategy moving forward.

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Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken

(*StellarAlgo is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

With the 2019 Major League Baseball season in full swing, clubs continue to gather large amounts of customer data across sales and marketing systems. This helps better inform the organization’s marketing and sales strategy moving forward. In order to help make sense of this data, the Kansas City Royals will now leverage StellarAlgo’s Customer Data Platform.

The platform uses machine-learning technology to gain insight and understanding of a given fan base. It’s predictive capabilities also allow organizations to understand just exactly why fans choose to keep coming back or not.

“We are extremely excited to leverage StellarAlgo’s leading-edge technology this season,” said Royals Senior Director of Sales & Service Steve Shiffman. “We love our fans and are in constant pursuit of how to better understand, engage and enhance our relationship with them. Through a thorough evaluation process, StellarAlgo demonstrated how we can get smarter as an organization and we’re excited to put that into action. We have a lot of confidence in their data platform’s ability to help us automate and augment our analytics capabilities and we’re looking forward to applying that to our sales and service efforts.”

The Royals average more than 20,000 fans per game with 81 home games per season. Like all MLB teams, the Royals are motivated to gain a deeper understanding of how and why fans purchase certain products or take part in certain promotions. In order to do this, teams gather data using a variety of systems and tools.

StellarAlgo’s Customer Data Platform will let the Royals integrate all of these systems with automated machine-learning to understand how to action that data. StellarAlgo’s clustering capabilities allow teams like the Royals to easily dive deeper into understanding what’s most interesting to fans, beyond transactional and demographic data, and how to capitalize on it in order to provide more personalized service.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Royals who have such a storied franchise, especially as our first MLB team,” said StellarAlgo’s CEO & Founder, Vince Ircandia. “Major League Baseball is well known for its data-driven focus and mentality. The Royals, in particular, have created both a powerful data asset and have a fan first mentality which was an exciting fit from our perspective. Pairing their focus on the fan with our machine learning powered data platform will drive fan insights that allow the organization to take their sales, marketing and service efforts to the next level. We’re excited to be working with Steve and his team to drive meaningful results and to support them in building relevant, personalized experiences with their fans.”

At any level of the sports industry, being able to adapt is a key skill. Through this new partnership with StellarAlgo, the Royals will be able to improve upon that skill and as well as create stronger relationships with their established fanbase.

For more information on how StellarAlgo provides actionable data insights for major league sports teams, visit stellaralgo.com/major-league.

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