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PHHA donates $25,000 to social media effort
Friday, March 27, 2015 - from the USTA Communications Department

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Columbus, OH --- The Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association informed the U.S. Trotting Association Friday that the organization will contribute $25,000 to the harness racing industry’s social media initiatives being conducted by the USTA in partnership with the award-winning social media agency Converseon from New York.

The PHHA becomes the first industry organization to add to the USTA’s annual budget of $250,000 and provide additional funding to support the ongoing social media effort.

“We’re committed to promoting the sport of harness racing,” said Sam Beegle, PHHA president, “and for the industry to grow, we need to reach a new demographic. I watch my grandchildren and no matter where they go or what they do, they’re on their phones, connecting with friends via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. The benefits of social media are just so obvious and we’re proud to support what the USTA is doing.”

“We are excited that Sam Beegle and the PHHA are the first ones to step up and assist us with our social media program and are hoping that we can get other racetracks, horsemen’s associations and industry organizations interested in contributing, too,” said USTA President Phil Langley. “Maybe this will open the dam a little bit and we can make this grow even more.”

In the first year, the focus of the social media initiative was to build the foundation and develop the required assets to begin a transformation. During this initial phase, the USTA/Converseon program created the Harness Racing FanZone website with a Facebook following of 30,000 and a Social Ambassador program with 1,800 members. There was training for and collaboration with racetracks, horsemen’s associations and other industry organizations. Different concepts were tested, analyzed and assessed. Vital content was created and the beginning of sponsorship support was formed.

“From our initial conversations with Converseon CEO Rob Key a year-and-a-half ago to as recently as his presentation at the USTA Board of Directors meeting two weeks ago, we have talked about the need for industry collaboration and commitment as well as a mechanism for funding our long-term efforts,” said USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner. “As Rob (Key) keeps telling us, ‘this is a journey.’”

At the recent Board meeting in describing the next steps, Key talked about the need to “Go Over the Top” to become the media, own our assets and distribute through direct channels in 2015. He explained that in the digital world, “the experience of the product is the product,” and emphasized the need to enhance that product to provide the highest quality for the digital customer because online is how the consumer will experience harness racing. Further down the road, the goals will be to scale and monetize the social media effort and expand it globally.


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