Adding value to the city you live in

For some reason I feel that it is my duty and obligation to add something to the city I live in, this city is Plymouth. I was born in Plymouth and have many fond memories of growing up in the area. I remember the first Plymouth Argyle game I went to, I remember shopping in the city centre before Drakes Circus when C&A and the like used to rule the world, I remember my first cinema experience at the Odeon and so on and so on.

Giving back

The city of Plymouth has given me so much that I now want to give back and be part of creating amazing experiences for others in this city. This is part of the reason why I am so passionate about making Plymouth a city for Professional Wrestling. I have been a fan of Professional Wrestling since I was about 8 and have travelled the country and the world to support it, to go to shows and to experience it. I know there are lots more wrestling fans in the city like me (the WWE NXT show at the Plymouth Pavilions earlier in the year proves that). I now want to help build a community with them, to network with them and give them a regular wrestling fix, instead of having to wait for the once in the blue moon event that we get down here from WWE, as there may not be any more shows like that down here in our life time.

It’s not the cities that make the other Professional Wrestling companies in other areas of the UK so big, it is the people behind them and I think we have the right team of people here at Plymouth Wrestling Association, to make Professional Wrestling big in Plymouth like it is in London, Glasgow, Preston etc. I would love for Professional Wrestling fans in Plymouth to not have to travel in order to see an entertaining show, I would also love them to have local wrestlers that they support and a growing local company they can get behind. For the local economy I would also love for the money wrestling fans spend supporting their passion to benefit this city and to stay in the city, to help grow this city.

A great form of entertainment

Professional Wrestling may be looked down upon by some or misunderstood by others but I believe Professional Wrestling is a great form of family friendly entertainment, that mixes athleticism, drama, music, culture, personality, competition and art. It is a place where fan participation and interaction is encouraged, where kids can be kids and don’t need to sit still and be quiet.

Plymouth is known for many great things whether that is the sports, the stunning views around the Hoe and Barbican area, the culture, the history etc. But I want Plymouth to be known for and famous for much more and I am going to do everything in my power to add Professional Wrestling to the list.

With that in mind I would love to invite you to the next big Plymouth Wrestling Association show title ‘September Slam’ on Sunday September the 25th at Plymouth School of Creative Arts. Doors open at 6pm, tickets can be purchased from as little as £8 and can be purchased by going to:

http://plymouthwrestling.co.uk/events/event/pwa-september-slam/

 

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Promoting an event

One thing I am doing a lot at the moment is helping promote live entertainment shows. Whilst doing this I am always trying to think of new and different ways to get attention on the product, without having to spend any money.

There are so many platforms and avenues available now to promote events and products, the problem is that the audience you are trying to get hold of are so spread out, that there aren’t many places to go to in order to reach a big audience. This means you need to be constantly active and active across a number of places.

Converting views to sales

When I first started promoting events in the early 2000s all I had to do was buy advertising in the local paper, to the city I was promoting in and I would draw a crowd. Now we live in an era where even if you get millions of views across social media, it seems to be harder than ever to convert them in to sales.

The problem is that people aren’t actually taking in what they are reading on social media, they are just scrolling through. Liking something takes no time or commitment, so even an engagement doesn’t mean much to be honest.

Connecting audiences

What I try and do now when I promote events, is try and work in partnership with other groups, people and companies. Everyone has an audience, but the way to truly grow an audience is to share audiences. An audience is a huge asset and the more you can connect what you are offering with new audiences, the more what you are offering is worth.

I also believe that as a society we don’t hand over money for things as freely as we used to. Everyone wants a good deal and everyone’s attention is being taken in a hundred directions, so getting customers to pay for tickets for an event is harder and harder. Sadly the costs of running shows haven’t diminished so it is a hard time for an entertainment promoter, unless you have a big brand behind you. You only have to look at the number of pubs and entertainment venues that have shut down in the last few years to show you that.

Competing in the marketplace

To compete in the marketplace, building a brilliant brand is paramount to success. The better your brand is, the less you have to spend on marketing as more people care about your product and will come to you instead of you always having to go to them.

So if you are promoting a live event the thing I would advise to concentrate on is your brand, as everything comes off the back of that.

Chasing dreams

Over the last few months I have been using my skills to help local professional wrestling company PWA (Plymouth Wrestling Association). A very dynamic leader runs the group, with a group of very hard working performers and back room staff who are all eager to put on the best shows possible.

When you say wrestling, most people immediately think of WWE (or WWF as it was once known). Local independent wrestling is different from what you see on TV. The audience are closer to the action, the audience are more involved in the show and the performers aren’t performing for paychecks. The wrestlers are performing for the love of the sport, to get experience and to get noticed. Local Independent wrestling is where wrestlers make names for themselves and hone their craft, so if you want to see a wrestler before they get famous, local independent shows are the place to go.

Dedication

The crazy thing about the guys and girls who get in the ring, is how a lot of them are holding down day jobs whilst also working out incredibly hard to keep their physique and then risking their health and wellbeing every time they get in the ring. This is how dedicated these guys are; this is how much they love to entertain.

We had a big show in Plymouth last night and what shone through for me was the community feel. Many members of the crowd knew each other and many members of the crowd knew the wrestlers, there was a real family vibe. The crowd really got in to everything that was going on, feeling the pain of defeat when their favourites lost and the elation of victory when their favourites won. It was like we were all in the experience together.

Glitz and Glamour

Local Independent wrestling shows may not have the glitz and glamour of the wrestling you see on TV but you have to ask yourself – what do you watch wrestling for? If you stripped away the lighting, the cameras, the fireworks etc. wrestling is about a battle of wrestlers, a battle of characters, it’s storytelling, it’s physical theatre and PWA does this very well. If you watch wrestling for the actual matches then you need to get yourself along to a local show.

It was so great to be in the company yesterday of so many dream chasers. People that have a passion for professional wrestling who were willing to make sacrifices to make it as far as they can in the industry. People who want to make wrestling as big as it can be in Plymouth and make PWA the best it possibly can be.

Many people talk about doing something but these guys are the ones that are actually doing something. Some of them may make it, some of them might not but at least they will all know that they gave it a shot and will know how far they could have got instead of always wondering.

PWA have their next show on November 22nd and I urge you all to check it out. www.plymouthwrestling.co.uk

Doing things right

This last weekend I was in London commentating on the NFL at Wembley Stadium. It was a fantastic day and a decent game of American football with the New York Jets beating the Miami Dolphins. The NFL is a yearly tradition for me and one that I always look forward to and enjoy.

The one thing I always notice when I go is how much better the NFL (and all American sports) are at putting on a show that British sports. As I was walking up to the stadium there was already so much going on (and I had to be there early). You could get your face painted, you could practice throwing an American football to an NFL player of your choice, there were huge banners and signs up featuring the best players that were going to be on show that you could get your photo taken with and the list goes on.

Experience

Then for the game experience itself, there were fireworks, lights, music, smoke cheerleaders, the national anthems sung by famous singers as well as regular freebies thrown in to the crowd. Some of these things are slowly creeping in to sports in Britain but no one has quite mastered it like the Americans have yet.

The NFL presentation is so slick and professional, from the smallest detail to the biggest; everything always seems to run seamlessly. There was fun for all the family and I don’t think there will be too many that went home who weren’t happy with their experience, although of course many may have been unhappy with the result.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is key with any type of event you are planning or attending. With the NFL you can tell every small detail has been looked at and worked on. Being a regular attendee I can also see ways they are improving it every year as they obviously do listen to feedback and every year they seem to try to do something new and better than the year before.

Next time you plan an event, make sure you look at every detail and make sure you look at it from the attendees point of view, do these two things and I am sure you will have an awesome event. Next time you attend an event try and look at the little details, look at what the event organisers have done well and what they haven’t, try to understand why things have happened and why they haven’t.

A great event should send as many people as possible away with positive feelings and the attendees should feel glad that they gave up their time and or money to attend. Never underestimate what people’s time and money is worth, they are investing it in an event so make sure you invest in them.

I’m a Eurovision fan and I don’t care

For many years there seems to have been a stigma around the people who look forward to and enjoy watching Eurovision. Some people seem to look down their nose at others who enjoy this annual cultural phenomenon. Watching Eurovision seems to be beneath some people and many people think it is embarrassing.

I think by not getting over themselves, many people are missing out on a fun night of TV entertainment and that is what the Eurovision is.

I do not watch Eurovision for the following things:

Quality music
Fair voting
Expecting the UK to win

I watch it for these things:

Entertainment
Comedy
To banter on twitter about it

I feel sorry for those countries that aren’t able to watch Eurovision on TV, although I was surprised by the number of countries who aren’t represented at Eurovision, but who still watch it. I love TV programmes, especially live events, when you know lots of people in the country are watching at the same time as you, it breeds a shared experience feeling and this is when I think TV is at its best.

An extravaganza

The Eurovision is a spectacular TV event with some amazingly high production values. The staging, lighting and presentation are impeccable. These are the reasons to me why it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To me it’s not a competition, it’s entertainment and who wins isn’t important. I love seeing what acts other countries have sent to the competition and what people are saying about them, the more random the act, the more I enjoy it.

I never feel patriotic during the event, probably got something to do with knowing the UK will never win but I do feel proud of the diverseness of the Eurovision zone. Yes the Eurovision has it’s own area, as not all entries are from Europe as it is normally defined.

Our way of doing it

The UK may never win the competition, but I think we must win the best presentation of the event, which to me is the most important thing. Graham Norton’s commentary throughout the event is priceless and always has me in stitches, as did his predecessor Terry Wogan. The UK sense of humour coupled with the Eurovision is a winning combination.

The Eurovision is on my list of events that I would love to go to at some point in my life, so I hope that one year I do get to witness it live, as when watching at home it seems like such a fun party atmosphere in the arena. For now though I will settle for drinking games, house parties and twitter on my phone to enjoy the event with.

Betting and the Beautiful Game

One thing I have noticed a lot this last year is the dangerous world of sport betting and the connection it has with the beautiful game (football or soccer if you are American) in the UK.

It used to be if you wanted to put a bet on a match that you would have to go to a betting shop. Now you have hundreds of free apps at your disposal for your phone, tablet or computer that will let you bet at a push of a button and from the comfort of your own home.

I think this is very dangerous, as now betting has become a convenience thing with no stigma attached to it. With the craze for game apps, has betting online through apps become a new game for some?

Alongside the rise of betting apps has been a rise in the connection between televised football and betting. First it started with betting companies paying for TV adverts around football matches, then it moved to betting companies sponsoring the programmes, now it’s moved to a point where on some games the betting adverts are on the screen when the players come out and you have live odds appearing.

This isn’t just happening for the evening games this is happening for the afternoon kick offs too. Many children and families are watching these games, yet the TV companies seem to care very little. Every year TV companies seem to be pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to advertise gambling as part of the programme, to either increase the money they get from betting companies or to keep their money and not lose them to a competitor.

Throughout any live game you are being enticed to bet. With live odds being shown before kick off and at half time. This is coupled with lots of betting promotions including free bets, cashback and the ability to cash out at any time. Not only do you have all this but you also have a million and one different things you can bet on throughout the game. This is before talking about the fact that you have the ability to bet on practically any game happening anywhere in the world.

The message put across is that betting and football go hand in hand. A message that says betting is part of the experience and will help you enjoy the game more. I remember seeing one betting advert of some lads walking to a football game and they were on their phones putting a bet on and coming home to check how they have done. I have also seen other adverts which are designed to make you laugh and to show that betting is great fun, are these messages we want our children to hear?

Not only are TV channels tightly linked to betting firms, lots of football clubs are too through sponsorship. First we have shirt sponsorship, then we have constant adverts on club websites and their social media feeds. Football clubs are supported by many families, with most clubs seemingly wanting to attract the family market and this is why it is dangerous. Now any 13 year old kid with access to the internet can see that the club they support, supports gambling and is encouraging their fans to do so. Betting on your team is now seen as a way to show your support and your allegiance.

If smoking and alcohol were promoted this excessively around football programming people would be up in arms but for something which can be equally addictive and bad for your health no one seems to care.

Football is a game which can capture the imagination and bring such a feel good factor. It is a game where clubs want to build allegiances with its fans in a band of brothers sort of way, but if the clubs really cared about their fans why would they want to risk their financial and mental wellbeing? To me that doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.

I think the rise of betting sponsorship shows that the TV companies and football clubs will put their revenue streams ahead of their viewers and fans, whom without they couldn’t do what they do, as no fans means no business.