5 ways newsrooms can engage audiences with March Madness content

By: David Arkin
February 24, 2023
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The annual college basketball tournament can provide some fun office chatter and competition, but it can also be a great way to engage your audience.

By Tara Jones, Digital Strategist
David Arkin Consulting

March is a special time of year. Not only is spring in the air, but so is madness – March Madness, that is.

The annual college basketball tournament can provide some fun office chatter and competition, but it can also be a great way to engage your audience.

Here are five ways your newsroom can build and create content around March Madness.

1. Build a helpful watch guide

One of the great things about March Madness is that it brings a lot of new viewers to the world of college basketball each season. Whether they get sucked in through an office pool or fantasy brackets where you can compete against family members, friends and even complete strangers, a lot of people become suddenly invested overnight.

This also means a lot of viewers will have plenty to learn about where, when and how to watch these games. Make it easy for your audience to tune in with helpful guides like this one done by Rolling Stone for the 2022 men’s tournament.

Your version of this can include what cable channels the games will be on and how to access those channels, a listing of where you can stream live games online during class or work (we know we all do it) and more.

Also, be sure to check in your area where any March Madness watch parties may be held that people can go watch together.

Pro SEO tip: If you have a local team or team in your state, create a specific article on how to watch that game with details about streaming it. Post it two days in advance and watch your search traffic balloon. Here is an example.

2. Hold contests and sweepstakes

Even if your newsroom is new to hosting contests, this is a great place to start because of the natural buzz it will create.

Once the field is announced, fantasy brackets can easily be completed by your audience and scored to get a winner. Here is a great guide from the Second Street Lab on how to get the most out of basektball promotions. Contests can far beyond just picking teams but can also include things like quizzes.

Here is a great example by Spectrum News 1 who hosted its own competition to win tickets to another local sporting event.

3. Engagement on social media

You don’t have to go as far as holding a contest to get your audience engaged with you. Create calls to action asking your audience to send in photos of their game-day gear or share what traditions they may have centered around March Madness.

You can also create polls where your audience can vote on who they think will win or post people-on-the-street interviews chatting with locals about who they have going all the way.

4. Connect it to your market

Maybe filling out a bracket isn’t enough to get everyone interested in March Madness. A great way to get your audience engaged is to localize this national phenomenon.

Has your region ever hosted any of these tournament games? Games happen all over the country throughout the entire month, so it’s entirely possible March Madness could be coming to a city near you or has been previously. Talk about how that has impacted your area with the sudden overnight buzz, or, if a game is coming to you this season, create a guide of everything people traveling to your city should know for their visit.

Have any local athletes or coaches gone on to play on this national stage? Highlight them, like this New York Post story from 2022, or interview and reminisce with them about their experience.

5. Create a betting guide

Sports betting is becoming increasingly more legal around the country. In some states, this year could even be their first being able to bet on sporting events.

Guides like this one from Sports Illustrated can be easy to replicate to help walk your audience through the very basics of sports betting. You could even take it a step further and create a guide on which teams to watch this year with the help of local experts, similar to the way Doc’s Sports did last year.

David Arkin Consulting can help put ideas like this into motion for local media companies. Email david@davidarkinconsulting.com today to find out how.

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