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The Celebration Bowl

North Carolina A&T State University vs. Alcorn State University

The Situation

For the past several years, Hope-Beckham Inc. (HBI) has partnered with ESPN Events to publicize its annual Celebration Bowl. This year, the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies would go head-to-head with the Alcorn State University Braves for the third time in the bowl game’s history. HBI was hired to raise visibility and awareness of the game in Atlanta, amplify its social media outreach and oversee Celebration Bowl’s Advisory Board in order to ensure maximum success.

The Approach

Local community involvement was a key factor in promoting the game. Once again, HBI coordinated the game’s Advisory Board of prominent business, community, city, and civic leaders in Atlanta.  The board members were tasked with spreading the word of the game within their network, encouraged to purchase sponsorship packages, and represented the game at key events and initiatives.  HBI coordinated the four in-person meetings on September 24, October 22, November 19, and December 10. Attendance at each meeting was high and the enthusiasm and participation from each board member was palpable.

HBI also provided a continuous flow of communication to the media through numerous press releases, media alerts, emails, and phone calls and generated this media coverage by proactively pitching the sports media on a national, local, and regional level.  

For the second year in a row, HBI was also responsible for the Celebration Bowl’s social media accounts and content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In 2019, the HBI team also created the @CelebrationBowlPR account on Reddit for gameday interaction. HBI handled general engagement on each platform (commenting/liking/retweeting others’ content), responding to messages and inquiries from followers via direct messages, running a ticket giveaway contest through Facebook and Instagram, and sending personal Facebook invitations to those who might be interested in following the page. HBI participated in weekly social media update calls with the ESPN team to discuss new content and the social media calendar moving forward.

The Results

The 2019 Celebration Bowl received an estimated 2.4 billion potential impressions, local audience, and unique visitors through print, TV, and online media outlets. On a local level, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (only daily newspaper in Atlanta) wrote several pieces that included the Celebration Bowl prior and post-game-day.  WSB-TV, which has over 60% of the market share for television, covered the game both on broadcast and digitally.  WSB-TV also taped a live pre-game show from Mercedes-Benz Stadium broadcasted to almost 1 million viewers.  
As for social media, on Facebook, the number of followers increased by 72% – from 12,559 followers to 21,554.  The number of likes increased 72% from 12,395 to 21,275.  On Instagram, the number of followers increased 33% from 3,197 to 4,266.  On Twitter, the followers increased 19% from 5,088 to 6,054. The @CelebrationBowlPR account on Reddit was a welcome addition for social media.  Suggested by a fan in the 2018 Celebration Bowl, the account was created to interact with fans in real-time on an additional social media platform.  In just four hours, the account generated 343 upvotes due to its consistent interaction with college football fans.  HBI responded to questions about the game itself, commented to each comment, and followed up with the official CFB Reddit account for a 2020 partnership.