If you’re familiar with roller derby from the 70s, you probably remember gigantic wooden-banked tracks, hardcore body slams and over-choreographed rail flips. Today, though, the game is more of a sport than a spectacle. After reemerging as an “old game, new sport” in 2003, contemporary roller derby has made considerable efforts to rebrand itself. And we have to say – these ladies have been on a serious roll.
The Houston Roller Derby Championship Bout is September 21 and we’ll be there, front and center. Sure, there’s always the risk of becoming a landing pad for a projectile derby girl, but who are we to shy away from anything?
Whether you’re wearing skates and taking names or trying to revitalize a PR campaign, we think you should listen up and take a few hard hitting PR pointers from our own derby gal, intern Katie Thomson – or Betty Watchett. This gal GOES HARD.
This Ain’t Your Mama’s Roller Derby
Just as the game has reemerged into a more youthful, athletic and empowering sport, a good PR campaign should show a little rebellion, too. Textbook methods insist that you stick it to the old techniques and follow history’s classic marketing formulas. DON’T. It’s okay to try new moves by jumping the apex, especially if you can wow your audience AND stick the landing. Do something new and fresh. We’re not suggesting you completely reinvent the wheel, but try getting your “roll” on in a different fashion.
Great Jammers Always Get ‘Lead’
In roller derby, the first jammer (point scorer) to get out of the pack is awarded a special privilege called “lead jammer,” which allows her to stop the jam at any time. If she gets lead, she retains control.
If you get YOUR lead in a PR campaign, you’ll be racking up the points, too. The key to success is breaking out of the pack to get ahead of your competition. Take risks and do things no one else is doing by finding those holes. It may feel scary, but it really gives you the upper hand as a leader in the game.
Play the Star
The objective of roller derby is to block the opposing jammer – who wears a helmet covered with stars – out of bounds, while trying to balance getting your jammer past the other team’s blockers. All the while, you’re dodging hits and trying to keep up with everyone on the track. While it may seem intimidating, sticking to your guns is something every PR pro can get behind. Set your goals from the beginning and stay laser-focused. Do everything you can in your power to block out interfering details or issues. Multitasking and tangential thoughts can slow you down. Always push ahead and you’ll maintain your lead to be the big winner.
Roller derby shows us that you can reinvigorate your PR campaigns with new energy. Taking a step towards a new image might be risky (and some might always latch on to your old brand), but the outcome of a fresh perspective can inspire a new identity and appeal to a completely different market. Roller derby never remarketed itself as a completely new concept — it just promoted itself as a youthful, energized community and became a culture more fans could be a part of. Take some risks, step out in front of the competition and stay focused on what you want to convey.
If you find yourself sitting in the front row at Houston Roller Derby’s big game next Saturday, see the action up close and take some notes on rebranding. Remember, it’s okay to talk derby every once in a while – just prepare to cover that beer if a skater lands in your lap!