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                                      🎉 2022 Shortlist

                                      The #FreemanEra

                                      Entrant: Notre Dame Athletics

                                      NOMINEE ✨
                                      • Best Sports Communications Strategy

                                      The #FreemanEra - Notre Dame Athletics


                                      ABOUT THIS ENTRY

                                      Pete Thamel’s tweet reporting the departure of Notre Dame Football head coach Brian Kelly – the winningest coach in program history – for a record-setting contract at LSU was the tweet heard ‘round sports.

                                      Immediately following this public and notable transition in the football program, Notre Dame Athletics owned the narrative surrounding Kelly’s departure and the hiring of head coach Marcus Freeman, igniting the advent of the #FreemanEra. The department’s social media content, led by the efforts of Fighting Irish Media, was best in class and leveraged all opportunities to own the news cycle.

                                      In a seven-day span, Notre Dame consistently dominated the news cycle – creating and implementing a media plan marked by authenticity and humanity.

                                      How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

                                      In a seven-day span, Notre Dame consistently led the news cycle – creating and implementing a media plan marked by authenticity and humanity. The morning following reports of Kelly’s move, AD Jack Swarbrick held a press conference carried live by ESPN. In contrast to other schools where head football coaches left and simply put out formulaic statements, Swarbrick took questions from the media, appearing on Peacock, NBCSN, and SportsCenter.

                                      Every choice was intentionally made to capitalize on the news cycle. From selecting an announcement date ahead of conference championship games to placing Freeman on the football pregame shows to embedding key content creators within the team to capture historic moments, the moment was met with unparalleled access.

                                      Friday morning, Freeman’s hiring was announced to the world via a simple tweet while he simultaneously was introduced to the team for the first time as head coach. The video generated 15M impressions on Twitter alone and demonstrated the holistic commitment to Freeman’s success.

                                      Freeman’s first month on the job was documented by an embedded team of creators, who shared inside access through digital platforms as Coach interviewed, met with prospective student-athletes, and embarked on his first National Signing Day as head coach.

                                      Objective: Pete Thamel’s tweet reporting the departure of Notre Dame Football head coach Brian Kelly – the winningest coach in program history – for a record-setting contract at LSU was the tweet heard ‘round sports.

                                      Immediately following this public and notable transition in the football program, Notre Dame Athletics owned the narrative surrounding Kelly’s departure and the hiring of head coach Marcus Freeman, igniting the advent of the #FreemanEra. The department’s social media content, led by the efforts of Fighting Irish Media, was best in class and leveraged all opportunities to own the news cycle.

                                      Kelly’s shocking and unexpected departure created a significant crisis strategy response from the Notre Dame Athletics team, yet created an opportunity to meet the moment with uniquely Notre Dame content and an unparalleled strategy to connect the fan with the new head of Irish Football.

                                      By placing key narratives at the forefront, embedding content creators within the rooms where decisions were being made, and humanizing a relatively unknown head coach, Notre Dame was able to own the news cycle consistently for a seven-day span and implement a media plan marked by authenticity and humanity.

                                      Strategy & Execution: Every content decision made during this seven-day span was made with the fan at the forefront. From leveraging captioning on video content to ensure placement and custom experiences on the FIghting Irish mobile app and Fighting Irish TV OTT app, the fan was at the heart of each piece. By creating genuine, humanizing, and engaging content, the fan was introduced to a coach who had previously had limited availability to the media and to the fan and was seemingly inaccessible.

                                      This success was shown very clearly through the fans’ reception to the content. In November of 2020, No. 4 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Clemson in the most-watched college football game of the season, earning the Irish 23.5 million impressions during the entirety of that month. In comparison, just the seven-day period from Brian Kelly’s departure through Marcus Freeman’s introductory press conference generated double the impressions with 46 million.

                                      Results: Notre Dame leveraged the coaching hire to provide a 360 media experience for Notre Dame fans and beyond. A Twitter account was launched for Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, his first tweet welcoming Coach Freeman and amassing over two million impressions.

                                      Notre Dame Football social channels garnered 7.7 million video views and 11,200 followers. Coach Freeman’s accounts were also strategically active during this time, amassing 3.8 million impressions on his first tweet as head coach, as well as an additional 43,500 followers in one week.

                                      Notre Dame Athletics’ website saw 2.01M page views, the third most pageviews on und.com since football’s 2021-22 season opener. Fighting Irish Mobile app drew in over 32,000 users, the most for a weekend this season. Over 180,840 minutes watched and nearly 750 app installs were the figures drawn during this period from the nearly one-year-old OTT app, Fighting Irish TV.

                                      The works:The #FreemanEra

                                       

                                      Production

                                      Notre Dame Athletics


                                      Credits

                                      Aaron Horvath
                                      Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Adam Donaldson
                                      Assistant Athletics Director, Production and Media Partnerships
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Alan Wasielewski
                                      Associate Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Alessandra Dickos
                                      Digital Platform Manager
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Bo Savage
                                      Art Director
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Cody Baker
                                      Feature Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Dan Colleran
                                      Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Dan Wacker
                                      Assistant Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Dawn Mays
                                      Senior Staff Assistant
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Derek Coleman
                                      Live Events Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Doug Thompson
                                      Assistant Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Emily Ragan
                                      Feature Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Jaye Galloway
                                      Department Lead
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Jodain Massad
                                      Executive Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Jon Asher
                                      Feature Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Josh Bates
                                      Associate Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Katy Lonergan
                                      Assistant Athletics Director, Football Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Kevin Barrett
                                      Associate Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Matt Paras
                                      Associate Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Meghan Kelly
                                      Content & Licensing Program Manager
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Nathan Bush
                                      Producer
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Nicole Leighty
                                      Assistant Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Rachel Pincus
                                      Director, Student-Athlete Advancement
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Robby Hamman
                                      Assistant Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Shalika Shetty
                                      Associate Director, Athletic Communications
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Sarah Higgins
                                      Director of Social Media
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Tim O'Connor
                                      Creative & Brand Program Director
                                      Notre Dame Athletics

                                      Celebrate in Las Vegas

                                      Join us for the 4th Hashtag Sports Awards™ presented by Budweiser on the evening of July 12, 2022 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.

                                       

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