LeBron is #MoreThanAnAthlete. Bleacher Report wants to be #MoreThanAPublication.
Thanks to its new franchise B/REAL, the publisher is taking the steps to do just that.
B/REAL is the culmination of eight months of work from Bleacher Report, Carmelo Anthony, and his Crea7ive team, that saw Anthony and a board of trustees that include Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Candace Parker, and Chris Paul select the stories of five different individuals from more than 1,000 videos.
The idea originally came from the fact that every day, across all of its platforms, Bleacher Report was being sent hundreds — if not thousands — of messages and videos from their fans and users. Instead of seeing their DMs packed with stories as a negative, Ed Romaine, chief brand officer at Bleacher Report and the editorial team saw an opportunity in which the publisher could not only bring to life some of the stories they were getting, but also create positive change in the life of the people they were profiling.
When @carmeloanthony and @bleacherreport hit me about @trashaunwillis' inspiring story, I knew I was headed to his hometown of Washington, Iowa. We teamed up to give this one-armed hoop sensation a surprise he won’t forget!! #BReal https://t.co/qlAus0ezJt
— Chris Paul (@CP3) October 19, 2018
“Our entire value proposition is that we reach the hyperconnected sports fan,” said Romaine. “We hear from those fans every day. We hear about things that they’re struggling with, what they’re succeeding at, and where they have failed. The editorial team really thought that they would be remiss if they didn’t also surface the stories of our users and give them the credibility and the empowerment factor through the platform that professional athletes have.”
Having been in active talks with Melo and his team for quite some time leading up to the creation of B/REAL, both parties were looking for something that they could do together and that would make sense for everyone involved.
Taking the idea for B/REAL to Melo, his only stipulation before getting involved with the project was that if they did it, it had to make an impact on the lives of young athletes.
“Empowerment and community development are causes that are near and dear to him and we knew that we needed a mechanism that surfaced the stories we were receiving,” said Romaine. “We brought it to him and said, ‘We want to socialize these stories. What do you think of this?’ And he said, ‘If we can make an actual difference in the lives of a young athlete, then I’m in.’”
He wasn’t just in; he was all in. After seeing some of the first stories, Melo came up with the idea of bringing the board together to not only amplify the project, but also give the winners the opportunity to connect with some of their heros.
With fierce competition in the sports media landscape, B/R not only wanted to develop something that would do good in the community, but that would adhere to its values as an organization and where it is going in 2019 and beyond.
Much of that growth includes more original content, deeper looks into the lives of sports figures off the court, and an emphasis on bringing to life the stories of the people who are visiting B/R on a daily basis.
All aspects that they believe B/REAL hits on.
“More and more of our users gravitate toward not only what’s happening on the court, but what’s happening off of it,” added (Romaine. “Our athletes, who have a sort of natural inclination to following us and engaging in our content, also want to know who our users are. This was a way for us to accomplish both.”
On mini-paternity leave, so couldn't make Friday's event, but so happy to see @carmeloanthony @CP3 @Candace_Parker + more push it forward at the #BReal premiere in LA… with donations to our Class of 2018 heroes! Details here + new episodes every Friday: https://t.co/ed4BYpSD8a pic.twitter.com/QXmp4F8nd1
— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) October 22, 2018
B/R was able to partner with Cricket Wireless who comes aboard as the presenting sponsor of B/REAL in a deal that came together because of the company’s desire to help foster connectivity and the belief that B/R and the B/REAL franchise was going to play a role in doing that.
Not only will Cricket have branding on all of the video content that will be produced, it will also play a role in helping fund the initiatives that the athletes are either championing or that will make a positive impact on what it is they are doing.
For example, for Alexandria Buchanan, one of the members from the B/REAL Class of 2018 and the first female starting varsity QB in America, B/R and Cricket are donating towards the refurbishment of her campus that is currently without bleachers and lights for the football field.
Only in its first year, Romaine sees potential with B/REAL that includes it growing into a non-profit fund that the company grows and uses in a variety of different ways.
“Ultimately you can imagine B/REAL existing as its own non-profit fund. Now, it’s an editorial platform that allowed us to make contributions to a bunch of things that matter, but you could also see how this could transition into being a fund that we nurture and deploy of across a bunch of different areas.”