Continuing with the disc golf media interview series, this week features the famous Media Marty of the PDGA. I was ecstatic that he agreed to participate in this series of blog posts. He plays an important role during many PDGA events that we take for granted.Working tirelessly and often with little sleep, he managed to squeeze in the time to answer these few questions. Enjoy!
Before we get into the questions, could you give us a summary of what you do as the Media Manager for the PDGA?
My name is Matt Gregoire and my full job title is PDGA Media Manager and Content Producer. Most people, especially disc golfers know me as Marty because I go by Marty Gregwah on pretty much every website where a username is required. The name Marty has basically taken over, to the point where even my close friends, family, and in-laws almost never call me by my real name anymore. It gets pretty confusing sometimes. Oh well…
Much like all of the other PDGA employees (currently there are nine total full-time staff members), I wear many hats. During the season I am on the road almost every week attending the PDGA National Tour events and the PDGA Majors. I manage all of our social media accounts year-round, and during the events mentioned above I am also in charge of live scoring on pdgalive.com, as well as writing all of the preview, coverage, and wrap-up articles for the events.
When I’m not at an event I am working on articles for PDGA.com, some of which are original and some of which are sent to me to be considered for publication. In the cases where something is sent to me that I want to move forward with, I am also the editor and publisher.
Outside of that, I work on a lot of projects for PDGA.com, one of the more recent projects being all of the information about previous PDGA Award Winners and Champions. All of that can be seen at http://www.pdga.com/awards.
The list goes on and on, but just know this, there is no such thing as down time when you have 30,000 active members and only nine staff members.
When you’re at one of the Majors or NT tournaments, what are the tasks that take up most of your time during those events?
Let’s start by clarifying something. For all of the NTs, there are only two PDGA representatives on site; myself and PDGA Events Manager Michael Downes. We travel together, room together, and work all hours of the day and night while we are there. This goes for most of the Majors as well, other than Am Worlds, Pro Worlds, and USDGC, in which several other PDGA Staff, Board, and volunteer Marshals are brought in.
There is an absurd amount of work to do, especially for the events where Mike and I are the only ones in attendance. We have to “dress up” the courses with PDGA banners, tents, and signage. We walk each of the courses before the tournament begins to look for potential rules issues that may arise (as we are also often called in to make difficult rules decisions). Mike works with the TDs to ensure that everything is meeting NT or Major standards. Meanwhile, I am constantly on my phone or computer making sure that as many people as possible know that the event is going on via social media and articles on the website, as well as working to find as many volunteers as possible for live scoring as many cards and divisions as possible. Not to mention looking for people to carry the leaderboards, help with roping off crowds, etc.
We are there before the sun comes up each morning, and we work well into the late hours of the night. Often times, if you look at the coverage articles I publish each day, you’ll see that they weren’t posted until 1 or 2 in the morning. The alarm goes off a few hours later and we’re right back at it.
For events like Worlds, it is even crazier. On top of the competition itself, there are banquets to manage, interviews with local media, plus the PDGA staff handles all of the scoring for all of the divisions.
After seeing the great organization of media resources from the 2015 Glass Blown Open and the 2015 USDGC, do you think a bar has been set for the other large tournaments to reach for in their media coverage?
The bar has been set and raised many times over the last two years. GBO was a great example, but several other events had amazing media and organization as well. As we move forward, it is important for the fans to keep in mind that filming, particularly live streaming, is not possible at every venue. I think some people are getting to the point where live streaming is no longer a bonus, it is an expectation, without understanding the complexities involved. With the new tours next year, there will be more media than ever, and as a fan of the sport myself, I definitely look forward to that.
New “tours” are abounding for 2016. Did they create any new challenges as they relate to the media strategy that you head up, or has their impact been negligible so far?
It hasn’t been much of an issue for me personally. I only have time to take care of media for our events. Steve Dodge and Jussi Meresmaa have their own people managing media, and we expect that they will do an excellent job, just like they always have in the past. We will all benefit from having so many more events with a focus on media, so I look forward to it.
2015 brought some great exposure for disc golf with all the aces that made it to the ESPN Sportscenter Top 10, as you noted in your “The End of the Beginning” article. I took a look at the BoD minutes from the last teleconference, and in the media report you talked about the large increase in social media following for the PDGA accounts. How successful has the leverage from social media been for increasing the awareness of disc golf as a competitive sport to entities like ESPN?
Social media has been and will continue to be one of the most powerful ways we can reach our members and non-members alike. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the PDGA now has over 100k followers, something I never thought possible when I started tweeting as @PDGA back in 2011 as a volunteer.
When we posted a video and asked our followers to share the post and hashtag it with #SCtop10, they came out strong. After all, a video being selected for the Sportscenter Top 10 relies heavily on how many people online are “voting” for it. But we wouldn’t have as much reach if our accounts were still where they were five years ago. As they have grown over the years, exponentially, our ability to expand our reach has grown with them.
Disc golf making its way to entities like ESPN was bound to happen at the rate the sport is growing. Social media has been one of the most important factors, second only perhaps to knowing someone on the inside that can help, which we were very fortunate to have had last year.
Pro Worlds is the most grueling tournament for the players as they all play 5 rounds, then the semi round, and a final 9, totaling 117 holes for the top 4 players in each division. Does that event or any others that leave you similarly drained from the hours put in each day?
All of the events are draining, for all parties involved. Even an NT with only three days of competition is exhausting. For me, the mental fatigue is just as great as the physical fatigue. Between walking the courses multiple times a day, constantly having to come up with creative tweets and Facebook posts, running all over the place making sure live scores are up and running (and correct), trying to help manage the media, doing interviews, helping find volunteers, etc. Whatever I have to do to make the event great I will do, and the same goes for Mike, and the rest of the staff when we are on site. It is draining, but the reward in the end is worth it.
The many thanks I have to Marty, er..Matt, cannot be counted for taking time from such a busy schedule to answer a poor country boy’s questions. I would also like to thank him for his efforts to provide the entire disc golf world with the content we all love to read and watch.
When the touring season gets rolling, you can go to http://www.pdgalive.com to catch the live scoring from the weekend’s tournaments that are participating in live scoring. Don’t forget to follow @PDGA and @PDGAlive to get even more updates about the disc golf scene.