SportsBiz Spotlight is back for another edition! This series is all about speaking to businesses in the sports industry and learning more about what they do.
We spoke to Darren Isted at Hashtag Digital Media, an organisation producing interactive digital magazines for sporting events and businesses!
Introduction to Hashtag Digital Media
Hashtag Digital Media is at the cutting edge of producing digital interactive publications for sporting events and business organisations.
The company produces titles that have a traditional printed magazine experience but with a host of digital benefits.
Without cumbersome print deadlines we are able to offer more time to create content and sell advertising while we have ended the matchday read, allowing clubs to publish digitally a full 24 hours before their event to make this a superb marketing tool and give supporters a real taste of the big game to come.
We have a real passion for sport and for the heritage of programmes and are proud to be making them more relevant for both supporters, clubs and sporting organisations.
Tell us about the business: what does the business do, when was it founded, what’s the inspiration?
Hashtag Digital Media is, at its heart, a publishing business which has been at the forefront of using technology to deliver a great experience for supporters while offering clubs the key benefits of:
- Greater reach
- Greater revenue
- Reduced costs
- Improved marketing
We started working on our digital titles in 2016 after deciding that print was just too expensive and limited in what it offered clubs. As a keen football fan of many years I have a love of programmes and like many have a collection of favourites stashed away unread for some time. But it has been many years since I last bought a programme and speaking to clubs it became clear that there was little point in printing them, other than to appease collectors.
For many they offered little profit or were actually running at a loss, only promoted the advertisers within them to a tiny audience and were either hardly read at all or as is the experience in many hospitality units simply left behind. There were some ‘flat’ PDFs around but we set about producing something unique, a digital interactive programme which quickly moved on from live links to include video and then other embedded content such as archive programmes. We have always been ahead of the game in this field and continually reassess both our own content but also the other tech we use to make sure that the product is the best in the marketplace.
We work in a number of ways with clubs and sporting bodies, we can work with them to help produce content, we can also design their own copy and edit into a publication or we can take predesigned PDFs and work our digital magic on it to make the publication truly interactive and a must read for supporters while also providing a new digital inventory for clubs to sell.
What’s your main purpose?
We are here to offer all sports organisations a way to take the matchday programme into the 21st century – to make it work harder in terms of providing more interesting content for their supporters who are used to digital channels, while also giving clubs a new message for their sponsors and advertisers.
Instead of tired old print programmes, they now have increased reach, creative ways to promote them and their own video and web assets and an unlimited shelf life for their advertising. We are proud to be breathing new life into programmes and to be making them even more relevant to all generations.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, what would be your biggest ambition?
Failure is always a possibility, but it’s this uncertainty which we always embrace because I know that by being averse to replicating the same old experience, we can provide something new and original.
We are already ahead of everything else in the market globally and our intention is to publish on before of football’s clubs in every major league globally while also providing publications for every sport.
What’s your unique selling point?
We were the first, we’re the best and we are tried and tested. Digital interactive programmes in the EFL were started by Hashtag Digital Media and we have more experience than any others of providing a digital solution which is 100% reliable week by week. We also have a team of designers and writers who are the best in the business and ready to bring out the best in any club.
How many people work at Hashtag Digital Media and in what capacity?
We work with a number of trained journalists and magazine designers to create superb products with great written material and design. Our key focus though is always thinking digital, our teams produce something with a traditional programme feel but all the time we are using developments in digital to improve on this.
Do you have any clients? If so, who are your usual clients?
We have a number of clients which represent the brand range of the product that we produce. In terms of sport we were the first business to produce a digital interactive programme in the EFL when we partnered with Stevenage FC some three years ago. Along with Stevenage we also work with Cambridge United among others in football while Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing organisation have worked with us for a year.
We also provide bespoke magazines and brochures for member organisations such as The Wine Society and The Association of Welding Distributors. Our service is unique, tried and tested and our customers love the experience of working with us.
Who would be your dream client?
We have been fortunate that every client so far truly buys into the concept of a digital interactive publication – they believe in the quality and the benefits which we provide and more than that, they are prepared to offer suggestions as to how their own publication can be personalised for their fans and customers.
They also understand that because we don’t use third party apps then the marketing and promotion of the title is in their hands – clubs and businesses are now more than well aware of the power of their social channels and databases, that clearly is the way forward to get their message out.
How can people connect with Hashtag Digital Media on social…
We always welcome a conversation with potential clients and are of course contactable via our website, Twitter and Instagram!
Thanks to Darren for talking to us about Hashtag Digital Media and thanks to you, the reader, for reading our latest SportsBiz Spotlight!
If you would like to feature your sports based business or know of an organisation you would like to see feature, get in touch!