American Rodeo and the Mythical Cowboy
A well-formed cowboy weighs in at around 150 pounds, while your average bull tips the scales at 2,000 pounds. When paired together by the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR), that’s one wiry fellow pitted against one ton of angry beef. It only takes 8 seconds to determine who’s bested whom, but what a spectacular 8 seconds it is. The spirit of the American cowboy is the American spirit: one of determination in the face of ridiculous obstacle.
“PBR is a bull riding event that was derived from rodeo and is now a standalone national sport,” explains Jacey Watson of Freestone Productions, LLC. Professional bull riding, to her way of mind, is pure rock and roll.
If people “want to see a mythical creature called a cowboy come to life, they should come,” to our PBR shows, says Watson. These riders “are honest, hard working, all-American kids with a passion for the sport and insurmountable toughness. They can ride through any pain. Broken legs, wrecked shoulders, blown out biceps, concussions, etc. They won’t sit out.” She cites big names like Guilherme Marchi, Silvano Alves, JB Mauney, Luke Snyder, Brendon Clark, Shane Proctor along with promising newcomers Chase Outlaw, Nathan Schaper, Marc Eguchi, and Edevaldo Ferreira as examples of this folklore come to life. “Most of the aforementioned names,” she says proudly, “have come to our events.”
Her husband, Andy Watson has been covering the Built Ford Tough PBR series for 18 years, and together they are the official photo agency for the organization. They also sell tickets for PBR events in Montana.
“People love cowboys,” says Watson. “They are one of the last holds on American Heritage that is still going strong today. Plus, if you want to see a rock and roll show with non-stop action, our shows provide it!”
Front Row Seats to the Rodeo
PBR is big, but, thinks Watson, it could always be bigger. She would like to “increase my advertising budget to get more people to come to the show, thus benefiting our sponsors even more.” But, she understands the “vicious circle” of budgeting, advertising, and growth. “I need more sponsorship dollars to improve my event, but I need more people,” she explains. “How do I get more people? Spend more money on advertising. Where do I get more money? Sponsorship dollars. But, sponsorship wants to see more people before they commit more sponsorship dollars. Hence, I am back to where I started.”
In the meantime, she does what she can, expanding sponsorship “through personal and already established business relations,” and rewarding these sponsors based “upon the level of sponsorship.” Sponsor logos and ads can be “added to arena signage, printed material, radio commercials and mentions, TV commercials, announcements during the event, commercials on our big screen at the event, website, social media connections, and anything else we can dream up.”
Watson acknowledges that modern advertising methods are diverse: “a challenge with today’s many choices.” She still employs traditional methods include TV and radio ads. She’s also found Every Door Direct Mail to be “super successful. Everybody still gets mail!” To her way of thinking, the best type of advertising is still word of mouth.
Getting It All off the Internet
TicketPrinting.com is her go-to site for print products. She uses the company’s service to print “posters, tickets, club flyers, VIP tickets, Every Door Direct Mail pieces, and programs,” stating that the price is the best and the printing quality is beautiful.” It’s not just Watson’s opinion: “I can’t tell you how many compliments we get on the quality.” She also appreciates the company’s customer service and convenience, saying, “not being a graphic designer, it is nice to know they have my back if something is amiss. They will always call looking out for the customer’s best interest. Oh, and the shipping options to my door or drop shipments is a key factor. It saves me money and time!”
In addition to traditional and what she describes as “retro” advertising, she’s able to reach her audience via her website and Facebook page, although she acknowledges that her digital campaigns is still in its nascence. In regard to Facebook, she recognizes its potential but feel that “you have to be dedicated to utilize.” She’s recently experimented with adding QR codes to printed material but feels “this is still catching on for people to figure out what the heck to do with it.” In regard to digital advertising in general, she says, “We feel it out bit by bit. It’s not a major component yet. I feel it will go that direction at some point.”
Another recent foray into the digital realm is her relationship with Ticket River. Being able to sell tickets day or night through an online box office “has streamlined it soooooo much! It is now easy to track sales, set up events, and get a cash flow going to get the events up and running.” She appreciates the ease and simplicity of having all these services integrated into a single site. Again, she loves the service, which she describes as “flawless,” saying “Customer service is over the top. I can always reach a caring and knowledgeable warm body that can help me with any situation. They never leave me hanging, which keeps the ball rolling on our end. They also listen to suggestions we have. Not only do they listen, but they act upon the suggestions. It keeps me coming back!
Beyond the Main Event
When all the tickets are sold, the gates are opened, and audience has found their seat, the real magic begins. Watson fondly lists the highlights of her PBR events: “watching the people become enriched with what we have planned for a year come to life. I also like to look around and see people visiting with friends and socializing. Kicking back, enjoying a beer, and an awesome Montana summer night. Doesn’t get any better than that.” She jokes that “knowing I survived” the day after the event might be the real cherry on the sundae, but then turns serious. “Just kidding,” she says. “Seriously, hearing the roar of the crowd when something spectacular happens. I know then that we have created something memorable that will bring them back.”
PBR is wonderful, but Watson thinks it could always be better. She would love to “add more prize money to the riders who risk their lives for our entertainment and their livelihood,” and envisions the changes she hopes to make in the future. “I would like to see a more amped up VIP area that we could put together. More people attend, more prize money, and better sound.” Whatever the future of rodeo holds, Watson will doubtless be at the front of the crowd, dreaming up bigger and better ways to showcase and honor the tradition of the American cowboy.
PBR is a bull-riding event that was derived from rodeo and is now a standalone national sport.