How the NFL Players Association Uses Live Events to Engage Players Off the Field

When they’re not sacking the quarterback or running for a game-winning touchdown, football players go to conferences and events, just like we do. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) stages several events for players, partners and player reps, such as the NFLPA Rookie Premiere and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, for showcasing top college football seniors.

Lucy Eckard, the NFLPA’s event coordinator and DoubleDutch’s #EventProf of the Month in April 2016, told attendees at our recent Washington D.C. Rise + Shine event that her goal is to educate players and partners, as well as engage with players long after the events are over and football is done for the season. Here’s how she uses in-app engagement to create conversations with players off the field.

1. Consider your audience when setting and measuring goals.

It’s not just about players – NFLPA events each have very different audiences, Eckard explains. “For us, setting goals is event-dependent,” she says. For players at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, the goal usually centers on player education, such as explaining the benefits of the NFLPA; at the Rookie Premiere, Eckard and her colleagues set sales goals around selling sponsorships. Understanding these goals in advance, Eckard says, helps event planners better analyze the metrics that come out of these meetings.

2. Use pre-event and post-event polling to gauge knowledge of content

At the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Eckard uses live polling and quizzes before, during and after to see what players understand about the NFLPA. Eckard will also use post-event follow-up to gather ideas for maintaining engagement with players once the event wraps up. “We use those surveys to identify the topics that our players are most interested in, and tailor our programming accordingly,” Eckard says. “We’re also trying to identify customer service needs, since we’re here to serve the players.” Gathering feedback and assessing comprehension is easier, quicker, and more effective when captured when attendees are already engaged.

3. Drive engagement with useful content.

Practical and helpful content encourages attendees to stick with the Live Engagement Event App. “We make sure players have useful things, like contact lists for our partners,” Eckard says. She’ll also create libraries of game photos, which players like to download so they can share them on social media. By ensuring that the app has useful resources and an active community even after the event, Lucy demonstrates that the app doesn’t just elevate her work on live experiences. Other teams within an organization, such as membership retention and marketing, can also make sure that the app aligns with their own goals.   

4. Embrace the metrics.

“Our role is changing,” Eckard says of event planners. “Now there are actual quantifiable metrics that event planners have to adhere to.” A cool and fun event concept isn’t enough, she adds — the event has to show concrete engagement. “There’s more pressure than before to break the mold and get people talking, so you need a fun idea that also has measurable outcomes.”

Want to learn more about event marketing strategy from rising industry stars? Check out our past event recaps!