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LA Lakers director of new media Nick Kioski on what fan engagement means in a post-Kobe Bryant era

LA Lakers team evaluation 2017 / Forbes

The LA Lakers value sits at around $3 billion, up 11% year on year, claiming the throne as the most valuable team for the last two decades, despite going through their worst season on court last year.

Kobe Bryant's last tour helped the Lakers attract a lot of fans and an impressive sponsorship list, including Adidas, Cannon, Chevron, EA Sports among others, which has ensured them good revenue.

The Drum spoke to LA Lakers director of new media Nick Kioski about how digital plays a part in keeping the popularity high.

LA Lakers is one NBA's most successful teams of all time. Does that add on the pressure to be the best in off-court activities relating to digital?

The success of the team has created a lot of passionate fans and they do let you know if they feel that you aren’t representing their team in the right way. However, if you want to represent the Lakers, then it’s a pressure and standard that you welcome, so in some ways, it’s as much driven from inside and from co-workers, as from fans.

What does fan engagement mean to you?

I take a fairly broad view to include any way a fan interacts with the Lakers. There are so many different kinds of fans and different ways that people like to get their information and entertainment, if you want to serve them all, you need to not target just one or two kinds of engagement.

What has been your media and marketing strategy for the Lakers this season?

The team turned a page in organizational history with the retirement of Kobe Bryant last season. That made this season singularly focused on the new group of players, under the new head coach and later in the season, under a new GM and President of Basketball Operations. That’s a lot of new elements for a fan to digest, so our focus has been on forging that connection.

LA Lakers' on court performance hasn't been really great. Does it affect fan engagement on various social media platforms and in the stadium?

It does, but we have a lot of fans and they are devoted to the team so the engagement may have a different focus, but they are still eagerly engaging with their team.

Which of your digital media platforms witnesses the maximum engagement of fans?

Probably Instagram, but again, each platform engages a fan differently and fans use the platforms differently, so our core strategy is more about making the Lakers accessible through a variety of platforms, rather than maximizing just one.

Lakers has quite a number of International players. How do you plan to push your content globally?

The NBA does that through locally targeted sites, but we also do targeted pushes for content around a specifc player to fit the applicable time zone (eg Clarkson-Philippines). We also have a Spanish language reporter that produces content natively in Spanish, so that is useful not just for our local Spanish speaking audience, but also globally. The Lakers also have a Weibo account for China.

NBA has now established itself in India. Do Lakers plan to establish their presence here as well?

We don’t presently have an India specific strategy, but it will be one of the things we will work toward in the future.

Which other NBA or NFL, MLS team do you think have a good media and marketing strategy in place to gain maximum fan engagement?

While teams operate in a similar space, they end of with divergent goals and priorities, and of course their fan bases are different, so there are a lot of examples, it just depends on what you are looking to achieve.

The best recent sports marketing trend you approve of?

I don’t know that it’s a new trend, but the thing that fans have always wanted is more access beyond what they see on the court/field, so I enjoy seeing how fulfilling that same want is played out across the new technologies.

What is your media or marketing strategy that you are most proud of?

It’s a bit boring, but I think my team has done a great job of giving the Lakers a consistent presence across so many digital platforms, in a tone that represents the brand with quality content that is visually very strong. That kind of success only comes from a lot of internal communication and keeping your focus through a lot of changes to the technologies and the team.