USA Cycling: Leveraging Lance Armstrong’s Return to Attract New Members
With America eyeing the return of Lance Armstrong to the 2009 Tour de France, USA Cycling saw the opportunity to leverage the high-profile race to increase the organization’s membership and overall awareness. GFM Talk, the media and influencer relations practice of GroundFloor Media, developed a “Who’s Who” campaign publicizing the way elite U.S. athletes competing in the Tour had first honed their skills through USA Cycling’s programs and highlighting how the organization works to develop promising cyclists like Armstrong. Media targets were initially slow to pick up the story until the second week of the race, when three Americans moved into the top 10 standings. To capitalize on this success, we adjusted the media pitch and piqued the interest of top-tier publications such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
Near the end of the third and final week of the race, USA Cycling learned that Armstrong would announce the formation of a new American professional team, so the GFM Talk team immediately revised our media pitch again. Prior to Armstrong’s announcement, we offered to provide commentary from USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson on the significant impact that Armstrong’s return would have on cycling in the United States. Reporters at The New York Times, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times interviewed Johnson, and the resulting articles were also picked up by additional regional and daily news outlets including The Austin American-Statesman, The News & Observer, Portland’s CW and The Arizona Daily Star. Outreach conducted by GFM Talk resulted in more than 50 articles and blog posts associating USA Cycling with the Tour de France. In total, the campaign reached an audience of more than 14 million consumers and provided an estimated publicity value of more than $280,000. In addition, the organization’s membership grew by six percent over the previous year.