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VOL. 133 | NO. 18 | Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Social Media Valuable Tool For FESJC, Sports Teams

By Don Wade

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Earlier this week FedEx St. Jude Classic tournament director Darrell Smith put an offer out on Twitter to a noted entertainer with local ties: “Hey @jtimberlake, I know you have a couple shows in PA after Memphis, but feel free to come on back the next Wednesday, June 6, for our pro-am. Got a spot if you want it. #HushYall.”

More and more, the FESJC is making use of social media to keep the tournament in the conversation throughout the year. So why not include Justin Timberlake in that conversation?

After all, the Memphis Grizzlies start playing games in October and don’t finish their regular season until April. The Memphis Redbirds pick up the ball in April and don’t finish playing until September. And the University of Memphis football team kicks off as summer is transitioning into fall, and when the season is only halfway done, the men’s basketball team begins playing, dribbling into March.

Meantime, the FedEx St. Jude Classic gets one week – June 4-10 this year – for its events and just four days over that weekend when the pros are competing.

So the FESJC wasn’t about to let Jan. 21 just pass when Jack Nicklaus was born 78 years ago to the day.

“Happy birthday to our 1965 Champion @jacknicklaus! Anybody know who he beat in the playoff that year???” tweeted @fesjcmemphis.

The answer, by the way: Johnny Pott.

Darrell Smith

Jason Wexler

Mark Alnutt

Peter Freund

More and more, Smith says they are using social media to try and widen their window for engaging with the public. So they use connections wherever they find them. Daniel Berger is the two-time defending FESJC champion. At some level, he is the face of the tournament.

“When Daniel Berger does a Q & A in Hawaii and is asked his favorite tournament on tour – and he’s won twice on the PGA Tour – he’s going to say Memphis,” Smith said.

Smith is one of the four panelists at a sports seminar presented by The Daily News Publishing Co. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art starting at 3:30 p.m. Registration (seminars.memphisdailynews.com) is required and seating is limited. Also appearing on the sports panel: Peter Freund, principal owner of the Redbirds; Mark Alnutt, University of Memphis deputy athletic director; and Jason Wexler, who is president of business operations for the Grizzlies and FedExForum.

The FESJC, of course, isn’t the only one making good use of social media.

At the U of M, it’s a top-down initiative, with president M. David Rudd very active on Twitter. After the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles won their respective conference championship games last Sunday, @UofMemphisPres tweeted: “Make that two Tigers in the Super Bowl. Believe it’s only second time there’s been a Tigers on each team playing for the NFL title.”

In this case, a pair of kickers: New England’s Stephen’s Gostkowski and Eagles rookie Jake Elliott.

The Grizzlies’ Wexler tweets from his own account, but also gets a lot of mileage out of retweeting from others. For example from @FedExForum: “ON SALE NOW: Get your tickets to see @jtimberlake at FedExForum on May 30th!”

See what a small sports/entertainment world it can be?

When Zach Randolph returned to The Grindhouse last week with the Sacramento Kings, Wexler posted the video tribute the team did for him and simply said: “Welcome Home @MacBo50.”

The Redbirds and its president and general manager Craig Unger make regular use of Twitter, but if you check out @MemphisGM now you will see him wearing a Memphis USL team scarf and tossing a soccer ball. Earlier this month, the news became official that the Redbirds were bringing a USL team to Memphis to begin play in 2019.

There’s also now an @USLMemphis account. On the baseball side, @memphisredbirds has been celebrating the team’s 2017 Pacific Coast League title while also keeping fans updated, often via retweets, of news related to the parent St. Louis Cardinals.

Smith says making greater use of social media is consistent with the FESJC’s overall strategy.

“It’s important for the tournament to continue to get younger,” he said. “It’s more than a golf tournament. It’s a civic celebration.”

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