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Monday’s announcement of USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team for the Rio Games may not have been the best kept secret, but the team still found a way to break the news creatively through social media.
Before the official team announcement, and with many of the names unofficially revealed over the weekend through news reports, USAB decided to not wait for the official presser at 9:30 a.m. in New York. They didn’t issue an advance press release or post the story to their website. What they did do, starting at 8:30 a.m., was to unveil, in ascending numerical order, the team roster on Twitter, with pictures and social media tags, #UNITE and #USABMNT. It wasn’t an over-the-top image, just the jersey and who the jersey was connected to, one about every two minutes, building towards the start of the official announcement at the press conference and then the unveiling across all media platforms of the full team by the coaches.
The move helped to amplify the announcement and actually drive social buzz to the press conference step by step. The beauty was that it was timed to give each player, his NBA team, and his partners, enough time in between jersey unveils to post and retweet the image, which gave the fans a chance to get involved in the back and forth as the final official announcement came.
The social spin then effectively set the day for the myriad of player stops, interviews and other activities that were planned as a team throughout the day, while giving each player, especially those like Jimmy Butler and DeAndre Jordan, a chance to shine as the overall story broke.
Now could USA Basketball have stemmed the tide and just let the news flow as it normally would, with all the images rolling as the presser unfolded? Sure. But since so much news was already in the mainstream, doing the gradual unveil leading to the team announcement got a larger buzz and gave a wider audience a chance to individually celebrate the announcement of the news in an order and a style that USAB was able to control and spread wide. It set the stage for what should be an interesting road to Rio for Coach K and the team.
It was a well-thought-out, well-received and well-amplified message for USA Basketball, helping make what could have been a little humdrum into a nice social bonus for players, coaches, media fans, and even for their partners at Nike and the NBA.