29 August 2012

Evolution of a Press Release

While looking over material related to the FIDE cycle that starts with next month's Grand Prix -- see New Cycle, New Page for background -- I noticed that Chessbase.com published two different press releases for the same article, the second release replacing the first. The first release is still available elsewhere on the Web, so I thought it would be informative to compare the two versions.

The first column in the following table is a copy of the first release, published by Chessbase on 6 June 2012. The second column is a copy of the second release, published 2 July 2012.

Andrew Paulsen’s plans for chess [exd5.com, June 2012] Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess [chessbase.com, July 2012]

As we recently reported, FIDE has transferred the rights to its World Championship cycle to an American media entrepreneur. Now Andrew Paulson has founded a venture call World Chess, which will host the championships with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros! World Chess estimates the potential global audience for the sport at more than one billion. Mission statement.

As we recently reported, American media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson has founded a venture to host the World Chess Championships – with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros! He has now appointed a leading design agency, Pentagram (in London) to rebrand the championships, which will be broadcast live on iPads, smartphones and cable TV channels. Press release (revised).

Press release : Media entrepreneur buys exclusive commercial rights to World Chess

Chess-loving entrepreneur Andrew Paulson has bought the commercial rights to the World Chess Championships, in a bid to transform the 1,600 year-old sport into a global entertainment form.

Press release : Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess for the world stage

Leading design agency Pentagram has been hired to rebrand the World Chess Championships, after the World Chess Federation (FIDE) accorded the commercial rights to the sport to technology entrepreneur Andrew Paulson.


American entrepreneur Andrew Paulson [photo Ester Dyson, New York]

Paulson struck the exclusive deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros. His new venture, called World Chess, plans to return the sport to the UK’s television screens for the first time since Nigel Short played Garry Kasparov for the top prize in 1993. Condensed highlights will be shown on living room television sets, supported by interactive broadcast on the internet, iPads and smartphones.

The move represents a huge sponsorship opportunity for brands, as the sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising. When IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997, IBM said it received $500m of free publicity.

World Chess estimates the potential global audience for the sport at more than one billion, with over 600 million chess players worldwide. Its broadcast strategy will exploit the interactive potential of the Internet and mobile technology, allowing fans to post live match commentary, monitor players’ heartbeats, track their eye movements over the board, and predict the next move.

World Chess will also develop a range of apps that will allow fans to follow the games on all the major social media platforms. London-based design agency Pentagram, which has been hired to provide the branding for World Chess, has designed the purpose-built arena and cockpit for the matches.

Mr Paulson struck the deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE, to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with an increased prize fund of 5.4 million euros.

AGON, the company set up to administer the commercial activities of World Chess, has briefed Pentagram to position the sport as a global entertainment form that encompasses the interactive potential of the internet and mobile technology.

Pentagram has designed the new auditorium for the next World Chess Championship cycle, which will start next March in London as part of the European Tour, before moving on to Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul.

The championship games will be broadcast live on the internet, on iPads and on smartphones. A range of apps will allow fans to follow the championships on all the major social media platforms. Mr Paulson is also negotiating with global cable television channels for highlights coverage on living room television sets.

The sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising, and Mr Paulson is looking for six brand partners to “professionalise and enliven” the sport.

He said: “World Chess will make household names of Grandmasters and provide a compelling media proposition for global companies to become sponsors. YouGov research has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport.”

Paulson, a serial media and technology entrepreneur, founded Aisha Publishing House and the $300m online media business SUP. His vision for World Chess was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the oil-rich Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010. FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

World Chess has ample finance to fund the first cycle of the world chess championship, but it is expected that additional support will be secured from sponsors. The company is understood to be in talks with a number of businesses in the technology, media, financial and professional services sectors. Mr Paulson said: “We are looking for six global sponsors in non-competing sectors.

Research undertaken by YouGov has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport.”

Mr Paulson founded the Russian businesses Afisha Publishing House and the online media business SUP. His vision for the World Chess Championships was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010.

FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

The first fixture will be played in London in March 2013 followed by events in other major European cities. The tournament will be hosted by North African and Middle Eastern cities in 2014, followed by India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016. Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the reigning World Champion will take on the leading contender.

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR

Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the leading challenger will take on the reigning World Champion.

Following the European Tour-themed first year, the World Chess Championships will be hosted by cities in a different economic zone each succeeding year: the Arab world in 2014, India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016.

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR

The June press release shows lack of familiarity with professional chess ('the purpose-built arena and cockpit for the matches'; 'fixture' instead of 'tournament') and reveals some some difference in the expectations of the two parties ('bought the commercial rights' vs. 'accorded the commercial rights'; 'exclusive deal' vs. 'deal'). The chess world has cut Paulson a lot of slack, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Ilyumzhinov has finally discovered a worthy commercial partner.

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