Spring Training Production Playbook: Produce Once Distribute Many

Published March 28, 2024

Spring training serves as a critical time not only for players to gear up for the upcoming season but also for marketing teams to capture compelling content essential for promotional activities throughout the year. As a marketing consultancy specializing in assisting professional baseball teams during spring training, we’ve accumulated valuable insights and best practices from various teams to optimize the production process. We’ve put together a Spring Training Production Playbook that we are excited to share with you.


The Importance of Planning Ahead

  • Define your schedule before leaving for Spring Training. Collaborate closely with baseball operations to identify the schedule early on, ensuring efficient planning and resource allocation.
  • Identify the roster of players. Before you can create a master schedule for production, you will need a roster of all the players you are expected to gather content of during your production shoot from PR or Baseball Ops. When providing this list, you should coordinate with individuals from PR and Baseball Ops to tier out the players. Each player will be identified as a Tier 1, 2, or 3 player. This is for internal knowledge purposes only. It is NOT to be shared with the players. This is important to know which rooms the players are expected to stop in and roughly how much time we will need with them. Tier 1 players will take the most amount of time and stop in every room. Tier 3 players will have the bare minimum stops and amount of time spent total at the shoot. 
  • Establish your handlers. While some teams deemed handlers unnecessary, having handlers can provide valuable assistance, offering overviews for each station to prepare players adequately.
  • Have a communication plan. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to Spring Training production shoots. Having constant communication is crucial to your success. Once you have established all the key players in your shoot, establish a communication channel. We recommend creating a group chat via WhatsApp or just on your cell phone. WhatsApp is great if not everyone has an iPhone. Make sure all handlers and air traffic control representatives are in the group as well as an individual from each room who can be responsible for communicating player start and end times in their space. This is critical for real time updates and adjustments on where to send players to prevent traffic jams. 
  • Your number of stops is crucial. Increase the number of stops to spread out players, facilitating better engagement and production quality. A best practice in our experience has been no less than four stops but no more than six stops.
  • Create a master schedule matrix. Once you have established the days, timeslots, different room stops, and the full list of players tiered out has been provided for your production shoot, you will want to build out a master air traffic control matrix. You will map out the number of slots available at each time and either members of the PR or Baseball Ops team will reach out to the players to start to fill in the open slots. We recommend highlighting the different timeslots based on what tier is available to go during that time. We also do not recommend scheduling more than three players to start at the same time. If you have less stops for your players you may want to only have two players at a time. 
  • Have a plan for traffic jams. Traffic jams are inevitable no matter how much you plan. Optimize the unplanned downtime between stations for productive activities, such as conducting surveys or capturing behind-the-scenes (BTS) content for social media. Anything that lets the players feel like their time is still being utilized is key. Not everything captured will be used and that’s okay but the players don’t know that. The more engaged you can keep them the less likely they are to notice the backlog.


Set Building & Room Prep

  • Start your set build early. Building a set always takes longer than anticipated. Give yourselves a full day to build and start as early as possible that day. Even if you are hiring a third-party service to do your set build, we highly recommend having key people from your team there the day of the set build to make sure things are going according to  plan and to allow for real-time adjustments as needed. 
  • Test your equipment ahead of time. The additional rooms may not require as much set up but you should use this time to test the different stations, make sure equipment is working properly, the lighting is ideal, external sound isn’t an issue, you have all the necessary props, talking points, seats, etc. before the true first day of production. Use this time to run through questions if you are in a video space and use this time to run through the list of photos you plan to capture if it is a photo stop. Use real people to test placement of players, sound capture on mics, and lighting from different angles.
  • Establish realistic timelines. Prior to your first day of shooting you should establish the amount of time you plan to spend with each player in each room. As mentioned above, we recommend utilizing a tier system. Our recommendation across the board is 90 minutes with your Tier 1 players, 60 minutes with your Tier 2 players and 30 minutes with your Tier 3 players. Along with establishing the amount of time total you will have with each player, you will need to establish roughly the amount of time spent in each room. This can tend to vary based on player tier, however, we recommend trying to keep the amount of time in each room as close to the same per player as possible. Not all players will go to every station which is where the extra time tends to come from for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 players. We do not recommend spending more than 15 minutes in a room with a player. Again this allows for optimized movement of players and helps prevent back-ups across the stops. 


Production Execution Tips & Tricks

  • Brief your handlers on responsibilities. Along with the set build the day before, you should conduct a comprehensive handler meeting to run through expectations. Our recommendation is to do this the day before the first day of production and actually have your handlers walk through the shoot as if they were escorting a player. This allows them to see each room, map out the best path to get from each stop and understand what is happening in each room prior to having a player with them. 
  • Treat the player name card as your guide. Each player will receive a card with their name and position on the front. The back of the card will have all the stops they are expected to make with a checkbox next to each. The handler will serve as the keeper of the card. After each stop is completed they are expected to check off the stop on the back of the player card. This allows for an extra layer of accountability in making sure the player attends every stop that is expected of them. In each room the first shot of the player should be with the name card in hand. This helps with post-production organization of files and efficiency in editing.
  • Real-time communication is crucial. Establishing a master communication channel prior to the start of production is crucial for real-time adjustments. If you are noticing certain stops taking longer or shorter than originally planned, take note and make real time adjustments to improve the overall production flow moving forward. 
  • Lean into the flexibility of social. Introduce a dedicated station for social content gathering, potentially incorporating a green screen for versatility. If you have a player survey or just need a space to kill time, have a green screen stop for guys to answer silly questions, basic survey questions, and any other content ideas you are playing with using in the coming season. Keep the lens of “produce once, distribute many” in mind.
  • Use player personalities to your advantage. Lean into player personalities and enhance the production quality of each room with vibrant energy and enthusiasm.


Post-Production Takeaways

  • Content organization is key. Efficiently catalog and organize captured content for easy retrieval and future utilization. This is especially important if you are planning to outsource content to a third-party for editing. 
  • Have a goal of continuous improvement always. Shortly after production wraps set up a time for everyone involved to get together and reflect on the production shoot as a group. Discuss the shoot as a whole and identify areas that worked well and areas of opportunity for next year. Keep documented notes from that post-production meeting to be able to go back to and reference as you plan the next year’s production shoot.

Improve your Spring Training production shoot with these best practices. Whether you’re a seasoned marketing team or new to the game, incorporating these insights will ensure a successful and efficient spring training production shoot that will set you and your team up for a successful content season. If you still aren’t sure where to start, we’d love to help. Reach out to discuss our services and learn more about how we can partner together to help your team improve your processes and effectively tell your CUENTO.