Articles Written 3
Article Views 3,590

Rhea Freeman

Achievements

Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Rhea Freeman

Latest Articles Written

Use Your Downtime to Plan — and Not Just Entries!

Equestrian PR and marketing consultant and small business coach Rhea Freeman is back with her expert advice for riders on managing their own public relations. If you missed them, check out Rhea’s other EN submissions Advice for Equestrian Pros: Why You Need to Become Your Own PR Machine and Well Done on the Sponsorship — But Now the Real Work Starts.

Photo by Shelby Allen.

What do you do between seasons? You give your horses a holiday? Take a little time off yourself? Do your entries for the next season? Do you plan your social media, PR and marketing too? Yes, YOU. The rider. The person who wants to get more owners, more sponsors, more followers and more exposure. You, the rider who is looking to make the next season the best ever. You, the rider who sees the value in working with magazines and websites. I know that during the season you’re mad busy dashing from training to event to home and back again, but that is why NOW is the moment to get planning.

Planning? Do you need to plan? If you want to achieve the above, then yes. And especially if you’re really busy when the season is in full swing and don’t have much time to be creative. Now is the time to create a plan, make those contacts, come up with ideas and work out where you’re going to appear for the next year.

This can start with your own content. Your own blog, video content, or even just social media posts. Of course, a lot of this kind of content needs to be created as it happens, but you might find that you can create some content in advance. What about horse profiles? Your thoughts on events you’re due to attend? Your plans for the season? Training tips that have helped with particular horses? What about getting some nice content in from your sponsors, too? You can get this all written up and scheduled and you’ll know that, even if you do nothing else, you’ll have x number of blogs to release during the season, and can create the imagery to go with these as well. This will help to keep your sponsors happy and increase your visibility online. Big tick.

Want to be featured in magazines? Or online? Research the places you want to be featured and start thinking about what you can add to their platform/pages and how it fits their format. There are LOADS of opportunities online and in print that will allow you to reach a new audience. And a lot of these are completely free.

You won’t need to advertise, but you will need to add value. So take this blog here, for example. Eventing Nation has very kindly accepted it, it’s helping to raise my profile in the eventing world and is has links to my website. BUT I provided something of value (this!) in order to get that exposure. Make a list. Research where you want to be. Come up with ideas that fit the magazine/website’s theme and reach out to them. Yep. Pick up the phone/drop them an email and get planning. Again, you can get things booked and written before the season starts, to release them when time is very tight.

Don’t overlook other opportunities, too – would you like to be on a particular podcast? Get listening and pitch an idea or two. What about asking your sponsors if there’s anything else you can do for them? Any events they’re attending they want you to be at?

A bit of time spent now, when you’re a little quieter than you are mid-season, will pay dividends in the future, when you’re running around, but you’re STILL getting those column inches, blogs and social media content out to keep yourself front and centre in people’s minds.

Read more on Rhea’s blog here

Well Done on the Sponsorship — But Now the Real Work Starts

If you’ve secured a sponsor(s) for the forthcoming season, a big pat on the back. But now the real work starts, as Rhea Freeman, equestrian PR and marketing consultant and small business coach, explains in this follow-up to her previous post Advice for Equestrian Pros: Why You Need to Become Your Own PR Machine.

Want sponsors? Rhea Freeman has written about the dos and don’ts of sponsorship and also advises businesses on how to pick riders to work with. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Before I start this ramble, I would like to say that if you’ve bagged yourself sponsorship – WELL DONE YOU. It is not easy to secure sponsors in this market as everyone and anyone is after … well … everyone. The amount of requests I see that clients receive absolutely blows my mind. And the vast majority would prevent anyone from sponsoring anyone again. Generic emails (even Facebook messages!) that show zero affinity with the brand, or any real value (a subject for another blog, promise), they vex brands more than you could imagine. The barrage is so great that it’s overwhelming and annoying in equal measure. And what’s even more annoying? The real gems get hidden.

So if you’ve wooed a brand and you’ve started working together, be under no illusion that this is a big achievement. But I am here to help you maintain that positive relationship. Because now the work starts. The real work.

It continues to amaze me when brands tell me what’s been going on with their sponsored riders and brand ambassadors. As I run a small business Facebook group with a large number of equestrian and country businesses, I get a lot of contact with people who work with riders. Now. There are some complete stars and I have a number of riders I recommend to brands for one reason or another. But there are many that I am jaw droppingly amazed by. And not in a good way.

When a rider approaches a brand, and during the chats that follow, there will be some discussion about what is expected. Some brands are really strict on this, some leave it down to the person, so it fits their style. Personally, I prefer the latter for a few reasons. The first reason is that rider has gained followers for a variety of reasons, and the content on their social media platforms ties to this. If I am telling someone they MUST post something once a week about a brand they’re sponsored by, it doesn’t always feel authentic, which is a turn-off to the rider’s followers. Which is not what you want at all.

Also, and I mean this in the nicest way, if a client is paying me to chase a rider, I will suggest that they don’t pay me … and they really think about whether the rider is a good fit. I’m not paid as a babysitter and I am able to give free product to anyone if I’m not looking to see any return on that. The brands that I advise have policies and expectations that have been developed over time. They’re all incredibly good to their brand ambassadors and sponsored riders BUT they will not be managers.

It is expected that the person who is being sponsored understands the value of what they have been given and it is expected that they will wear/use the products without being told to. It is expected that they will feature on posts. It is expected that the rider will share the odd relevant post from the brand. It is expected the rider will talk about/mention the brand when relevant. Without prompting. Or else, really, what is the point? Of course, if a brand has a specific campaign or idea they would like the rider’s support on, telling them what is coming up and asking for support makes sense … but managing them? No. That’s not what a brand should do.

If riders wish to be taken seriously and gain support and sponsorship, they HAVE to put the work in. And if they don’t, they shouldn’t be surprised when the brand takes a step back to see what they do. And they shouldn’t be surprised if the support dries up … because it isn’t being reciprocated.

Sponsorship should be a mutually beneficial arrangement. The rider receives X (product or money) and for that, the brand receives Y (exposure, endorsement, etc.). Products and money (obviously) have a monetary value — I can’t stress this enough. Yes, a product costs a brand less than the RRP, that’s how it works, but it still has a value whether it’s sold or given away in exchange for exposure and coverage.

If you, as a rider, aren’t giving the brand anything, it would be like you paying for a new set of shoes for your horse and, when you go and check, they’re still the same worn shoes, but the money’s gone. It doesn’t feel right, does it? You were promised something, you invested in it, the investment has gone and what you agreed and arranged isn’t there … it doesn’t feel right, does it? So, now imagine you call the farrier back and he does exactly the same again. Yep. He’s taken your money and given you nothing in return. And he doesn’t seem to care or show any signs of changing his ways. Are you going to carry on using him? No … I thought not.

I’m not saying any of this to be negative, but it’s more so you can see it from the other side of the fence. Good brand ambassadors or sponsored riders are worth their weight in gold. And I really do mean that. I work with some fabulous riders and ambassadors and they add a huge amount to the brands I support. But I also see a LOT of times when a rider bags sponsorship or becomes a brand ambassador … and then there’s nothing at all.

Rhea Freeman is an equestrian PR, marketing and social media consultant and equestrian and country business coach. Read more on her blog here

Advice for Equestrian Pros: Why You Need to Become Your Own PR Machine

Want sponsors? Rhea Freeman has written about the dos and don’ts of sponsorship a number of times for her own blog (www.rheafreemanpr.co.uk/blog) and also advises businesses on how to pick riders to work with. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We know that good riders become great through hours and hours of honing their skills, pushing themselves, undergoing intense training and finding the perfect equine partners. But in order to achieve success and then maintain it, finances often play a part. Whether you’re looking to attract new owners or brands to help support your dreams, you need to become your own Public Relations machine.

The whole idea of being your own PR machine might sound like a step too far, and I can almost hear you say, “I don’t have time for that,” and that’s fine. But if you don’t have time to promote what you’re doing, to work with your sponsors, to become a brand in your own right, then please don’t expect brands to want to work with you. Because if you’re not doing anything to promote yourself and generate interest that could lead to revenue for your business, for your livelihood, what chance do they really have of you promoting them?

If you don’t need owners and you don’t need brands to support you on your journey, you don’t need to become your own PR machine. I mean, it’ll help you attract more horses and owners and brands and opportunities, but that’s down to you.

If you’re in the boat with the vast majority that do need owners or sponsors, you’re going to need to get on board. But don’t think you can’t do it. PR isn’t witchcraft. And neither is social media. So you’re going to be completely fine. It is very, very achievable, and you might even be able to get some of your team members involved, too.

PR is the way that people see your brand and you; it’s how the public relates to you. And your job is to give people information to help them get to know you. With social media nowadays, so much content is put out on these platforms that really this can form a lot of your PR strategy. There are other bits too that you can do easily, but one step at a time.

I bet you use social media yourself. I really REALLY believe the best way to learn any social media platform is through actually doing the grunt work and putting the hours in. A tweak in an algorithm can make a book all about it redundant, but there are some great videos, podcasts and online resources that can help you too. If you’re on social media already as you, then you’re halfway there. You might decide to convert your Instagram account and Twitter to more businessy content, but with Facebook I’d opt for a page as well as your personal profile. And here you have really good platforms to start your PR offensive.

If PR is helping the public perception of you and improving your overall brand, step one would be putting in the effort to update these platforms, and update them regularly. Tag brands you work with and use, to give them content to share and repost. Take pictures of the kit in action that your sponsors can use. Ask grooms to take pictures of you in action — little videos, behind the scenes snaps — and start using this as key content. Tag people so that people that need to see you do — you don’t need to also send an email (I mean, it’s nice to, but this is immediate content that people can use as soon as they see it!), and you can create this content for different platforms, too.

You might wonder why this matters. If you’re looking to woo sponsors and you have zero social media presence, you never update or it’s just plain rubbish, you’ll fall to the bottom of the pile, even if you’re performing really well. Because very few people will actually know how well you’re doing. And more than this, you’re training, riding, working with the horses a LOT more than the moments you compete. And it’s also exclusive content that helps people feel close to you.

The kind of content you create will also encourage your audience to care about what you’re doing. It’ll show that you actually care about your horses. They’ll see how well cared for your horses are. And does this matter? Hell yes. Because for a brand, it’s not just about how well you perform, it’s about how your values align with theirs and their customers. Are you a trusted source Would your horse wearing their rug help them or hinder them? Do you actually use the products you’re talking about? And do you engage with your followers at all?

That’s the next point. You post a lovely picture of your horse having a roll in the field after winning a competition. You get loads of comments, and you do nothing. Now, if you have loads of followers who hang on your every word, this isn’t a must, but if you’re building a following please engage with your fans. They’ll love it. From a brand point of view, they’ll love it too. Fans will ask advice that you can give. And you know what?That person who asked about your horse’s routine post competition might actually be an owner who has a lovely young event horse they’re looking to put with someone. I look at people on social media before I make a move. Don’t you?

Our star Bobby working with the media! :-)) #halebob #eventing #fourstar #MMBHT

A post shared by Ingrid Klimke (@ingridklimke) on

The other side of becoming a PR machine is the additional opportunities it can present. Magazines, websites and blogs will be more interested in you because they can see you. This could lead to interviews, features, video series and lots more. This increases your visibility. It gives you content for your social media. It builds your brand … it all feeds in together!

And one last thing, for now at least, is your website. If you’re set on becoming a PR machine (you’re with me on this now, aren’t you?!) then please get yourself a website. These can cost you next to nothing now, and with something like WordPress, they take just moments to update. You can blog about your events and what you’ve been up to, you can talk about your horses and your lovely owners, you have somewhere to drive people from your social media platforms. And it’s yours. Always have a bit of owned space online. We don’t own any of the social media platforms and while I strongly advise you to use them, don’t put all your eggs in a Facebook shaped basket.

So, that’s my take on why you need to become a PR machine, for your business, for your sponsors and for your owners. It doesn’t need to consume your life, but it should be factored into your business if you’re looking for it and you as a brand to expand.

Rhea Freeman is an equestrian PR, marketing and social media consultant and equestrian and country business coach.