By ELSM Staff Writers
At the recent NWCA Convention in Fort Lauderdale, there was a lot of buzz coming into the event about the new Best of Brand awards. With nearly 100 teams participating in the competition, seven teams emerged as winners in the award program that was designed to honor NCAA wrestling programs for their investment in marketing. “The goal was to provide coaches with an incentive to market their programs throughout the year. By honoring them in this manner, we hope that coaches will continue to see the importance of strengthening their brand in the surrounding community” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer.
In the inaugural Annual Achievement category, there were three specific awards that were handed out to the programs that best represented themselves in the area of social media marketing throughout the year. In addition, there was also a Daily Doses of Excellence category that included four specific awards for programs that made unique investments that enhanced their marketing efforts in key areas. “The awards were designed to honor the programs that are making the right decisions to brand their programs,” said Elite Level Sport Marketing (ELSM) CEO Coyte Cooper. “When programs are running their programs the right way, we want them to be recognized because it grows the sport of wrestling.”
ANNUAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
“The Gold Standard” Award: The highest honor in this year’s Best of Brand awards was “The Gold Standard,” which was handed out to the program that most effectively built their brand utilizing technology throughout the year. While there were three competitive nominees in the field, this year’s 2011-12 honor was handed out to the University of Maryland for their well-rounded, strategic approach on a key social media sites to engage fans. “I am so honored to be recognized with the award”, said head coach Kerry McCoy. “Our main goal is to be ‘out there’ and we take pride in knowing we are doing a good job promoting our program. We appreciate the efforts of the NWCA to help provide tools for programs to increase the visibility of their teams and raise the level of awareness for the sport of wrestling as a whole.
- Award Winner: Maryland
- 1st Runner-Up: Minnesota
- 2nd Runner-Up: UTC
“Top Newcomer” Award: In addition to identifying the annual top overall marketing effort, the Best of Brands also sought to honor the programs that burst onto the scene with their social media marketing efforts during the 2011-12 season. While it turned out to be a highly competitive field, there were three nominees that differentiated themselves and emerged as finalists in this category. Eventually, the University of Wyoming pulled away as the winner of the award because of their unique content that they created for fans throughout the season.
- Award Winner: Wyoming
- 1st Runner-Up: Purdue
- 2nd Runner-Up: Virginia Tech
DAILY DOSES OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS
“The Masterful Mission” Award: In an effort to honor teams branding in a in a productive manner, the first award in the Daily Doses of Excellence category was designed to reward teams that were demonstrating a consistent message supporting the university mission. In this category, three teams differentiated themselves due to their regular investments to build the brand of the program, athletic department, and university. In the end, the University of Tennessee Chattanooga program emerged because of their creativity and consistency in social media content throughout the year. “It’s a privilege to earn this year’s Masterful Mission award presented by the NWCA and ELSM. We have a desire to positively brand our program and the award confirmed that Chattanooga Strong is heading in the right direction”, said Assistant Coach Rocco Mansueto. “It would be a disservice to our program and university if we didn’t continue to build the [Chattanooga Strong] brand. With that said, we have deep rooted goals of earning future Best of Brand awards.”
- Award Winner: UTC
- 1st Runner-Up: Missouri
- 2nd Runner-Up: Maryland
“Gotta Be Grassroots” Award: In the era of social media, programs are now being evaluated on their ability to build a strong database of fans. In addition, there is an expectation to consistently engage fans through creative content and strategic delivery. The “Gotta Be Grassroots” award was designed to reward programs who excelled in these two areas throughout the year. Due to the impressive number of followers on Facebook and Twitter, three teams emerged as finalists in the award category, and Cornell was identified as the winner.
- Award Winner: Cornell
- 1st Runner-Up: Michigan
- 2nd Runner-Up: Oklahoma State
“The Highlight Reel” Video Award: With the growing importance of videos in social media presence, the Best of Brand awards included three categories to honor programs who excelled in the development of innovative videos during the season. The “Highlight Reel” category was designed to reward the programs that turned out the best online highlight videos during the 2011-12 season. With a field of over 30 videos from different programs, there was a wide range of submissions that were of outstanding quality. However, the committee identified three finalists from the field before eventually crowning Minnesota as the award winner in “The Highlight Video” category.
- Award Winner: Minnesota
- 1st Runner-Up: Maryland
- 2nd Runner-Up: Penn State
“Pure Entertainment” Video Award: In a field that is constantly evolving, there is a growing need for programs to find a way to develop videos that keeps fans engaged on social media. Building on the normal highlight video content, it is becoming more and more important for entertainment to be a premium for programs looking to succeed in marketing. The “Pure Entertainment” award was created to highlight teams that realized success in this area. In a highly competitive field of over 25 teams, four teams were chosen as finalists due to their development of high quality entertainment videos. In an extremely close race, Grand View was deemed the winner of the award. “It’s pretty cool to be included in the NWCA’s Best of Brand awards, especially because we were one of the only smaller non-D1 programs to win an award”, said head coach Nick Mitchell. “It goes to show this kind of marketing is important at all levels.”
- Award Winner: Grand View
- 1st Runner-Up: Minnesota
- 2nd Runner-Up: Southern Oregon and Drexel (tie)
“Solid Service” Video Award: In marketing, it is important that programs are building their brand in a manner that creates value for a wide range of stakeholders. In response to this need, the “Solid Service” award was designed to honor the programs who created videos that highlighted their involvement in community service activities. While there were several high quality submissions, there were three teams that quickly emerged as finalists, with SUNY Oneonta emerging as the eventual winner. “Winning this year’s Best of the Brands award for Solid Service is a great honor. We would like to thank the NWCA for recognizing Oneonta State Wrestling and our extensive volunteer efforts during the Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee floods. Special thanks to Linda Drake from the colleges CSRC for helping coordinate our teams volunteer efforts, and Jared Stanley who shot the video and worked right along with us in Schoharie, NY”, said Head coach Duane Ritter explained. “As the team’s coach, it’s my hope the real reward was the lifelong lesson my wrestlers took away from the flood relief experience by giving to those who had truly lost everything.”
- Award Winner: Oneonta
- 1st Runner-Up: Buffalo
- 2nd Runner-Up: American
This year’s 2012-13 NWCA and ELSM Best of Brand awards will be announced in September. Programs interested in the competition should be on the lookout for the release and guidelines. Contact information for these awards are provided below.
For questions on the Best of Brand awards, please contact Coyte Cooper (email@example.com)