Unfiltered Friday: Partnering with Golf Brands by Collaboration

When it comes to covering the game of golf, a digital media outlet has important choices to make. They must ask what will be the main focus of their efforts, and is another site already doing something similar? Chances are the answer to the latter is a resounding “yes”, making the answer to the former almost inconsequential.

Let’s face it: someone is already covering that angle, they already have an audience, and they’ve already moved on to the next topic.

Media outlets of all sizes are noticing this trend in the golf space, and collaboration among these outlets are becoming commonplace. Does this mean the era of the independent media site is nearing its end?

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Partnerships vs. Repositories

There is a value in remaining completely independent and unbiased toward any brand or player, especially when starting out in the media space. Websites, like GU, have to find their voice in a crowded sea of other options from which readers and listeners can choose. This first step can open the door to additional opportunities down the road, as long as the right people read the right content.

Defining what’s “right” can be tricky.

One way to define the term is to watch where the readers go. Some content will be consumed more than others, leading to the obvious conclusion of “Hey, we should do more of that!” While not incorrect, this response isn’t guaranteed to work. Reader preferences change, and the proverbial “eggs in one basket” approach can get very tired very quickly.

Conversely, websites that take the shotgun coverage approach of touching on every topic or brand under the sun risk confusing the reader. Very few websites — particularly those that focus on golf equipment — do it well enough to offer a healthy dosage of variety without coming off as chaotic.

Frankly, golf brands don’t want to ship product to a website in exchange for one day of front page coverage.

A better way to respond to readership demand, in my view, is to partner with entities that still offer variety but do not appear to be content repositories with no personality or voice.

For example, we at GU cover multiple brands and topics at a cadence of roughly one or two new posts a week. Our podcast features new guests and topics every episode, mixing interview-style and first-person episodes. While I’d argue we are constantly fine-tuning our overall voice, we also try to remain consistent with our voice.

Doing so not only lets our readers know what they’re getting when they tune in… it also provides a “brand” option for potential partners.

Our partnership with The Hackers Paradise, for example, illustrates this dynamic. THP has a much larger audience and has a focus on golf equipment coverage. They also had a desire to expand the audio content portion of their offerings, thus opening the door for the GU podcast to join their network. This benefits both sides in many ways, particularly 1) variety in content media for THP and 2) a larger listenership for GU.

Most importantly, this partnership expands the options for golf brands who are looking for ways to spread their message with outlets like ours.

As brands continue to mature and rethink the way they want their message to be consumed by the public, so too must digital media outlets. Consistency in voice is important and possible to maintain while remaining flexible with how content is delivered to readers. The erroneous mentality that brand partnerships or sponsorships instill bias within the media outlet is unhealthy and false, instead insinuating that content creators are robots with no say in their actions.

Open collaboration among outlets is highly beneficial for everyone involved, and as more websites realize this dynamic the possibilities for changing the way the golf industry is covered are endless.