How Special Olympics spreads its message of inclusivity with its portfolio of unique microsites

special olympics website promo

Does having all the power and efficiency of one integrated website, but the ability to spin out highly targeted microsites appeal to your organization? If so, learn here how one Brightspot customer is getting all that and more—and seeing immediate results in terms of audience engagement, SEO performance and brand awareness.

Founded by American philanthropist Eunice Kennedy Shriver over 50 years ago, Special Olympics is a beloved sports organization open to anyone with what the nonprofit calls ID—intellectual disability.

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But if you thought all the organization does is mount its twice-yearly Summer and World Games, you’d be mistaken. It turns out it’s also a leader in fitness and nutrition, education, leadership and healthcare support for the ID community. This means it needs to talk to a lot of folks, and not just the ones heading to those celebrated Games.

In our latest webinar—How Special Olympics leverages the power of branded microsites to tell its story—Crystal Hudson, who is VP of Digital Marketing & Fundraising for Special Olympics, explained the breadth of the brand’s outreach to Parker Ramsdell, Brightspot's VP, People, Mission & Culture.

A core theme from the discussion was the value of microsites and why being able to build them quickly and easily with a platform like Brightspot really helps.

Special Olympics microsite

Spin up new sites as needed

Special Olympics, which had been hampered by the limited bandwidth and publishing capabilities of its previous content management system (CMS), consolidated SpecialOlympics.org on to Brightspot in 2018.

It’s a move Crystal remains highly positive about. “Brightspot has been an incredible partner for us—not just helping us digitize the movement, but as an overall supporter for over a decade,” she states.

To mark the organization’s half century a couple of years back, its leadership felt it needed to be on a CMS that was going to grow with the organization as it entered a new chapter.

“We needed to educate our public more about some of the areas we work in,” she explains. “The Brightspot CMS gave us that, as we now have agility, ability to scale and the customizations we needed to grow our support base. We just didn't have this before.”

Here, as Parker notes, a big benefit of the 2018 migration is the ability to spin up various microsites to meet the changing needs of the organization—including promotion of key initiatives as they come about, plus support sponsored content opportunities as they occur.

Prior to being on Brightspot, we were on a different CMS which had limited bandwidth and publishing capabilities. We were coming up on our 50th anniversary and really needed to be on a CMS that was going to grow with us as we entered a new chapter of our movement to help shift our brand. We also needed to educate our public more, and the Brightspot CMS gave us that. We now have agility and the ability to scale and have customizations that we needed to grow our supporters that we just didn't have before.
Crystal Hudson, VP, Digital Marketing & Fundraising, Special Olympics

special olympics website promo

Honoring legacy and sharing messaging

Crystal very much agrees. “One of the first and most successful microsites we’ve built with Brightspot tools was the one we built in honor of our founder, ‘EKS’ (Eunice Kennedy Shriver).

“When she passed away in 2009, an overwhelming amount of tributes came in from around the world, and these were important for us to share with the rest of the community. Having an entirely separate site on an entirely different domain that really told her full story was blocking people from learning about her.”

Working together, Special Olympics and the Brightspot team built a completely new website to describe EKS’s legacy in under 24 hours. And there was more to come.

Crystal says: “She is the heart of our movement, so we knew it was important to bring that content over to SpecialOlympics.org instead of living in a separate site.”

That also mattered as SpecialOlympics.org has been boosted with tools and features to aid with SEO, so the EKS work and microsite could be discovered by more interested parties via organic search.

“Having this important microsite within SpecialOlympics.org gave it great discoverability,” she says. “Even in the short time that we've been integrated, we’ve seen traffic to it go up about 61% in the past year.

Special Olympics WWE microsite

A strong driver of traffic

EKS is far from the only microsite that’s benefited from Brightspot’s ability to rapidly create great new sites that remain tightly linked to the main corporate URL. Another has been the Special Olympics microsoite in partnership with WWE, which is a hugely popular brand with the ID community. In 2020, WWE and the organization worked on a special video campaign to raise awareness of fitness for ID athletes using WWE superstars to encourage these athletes.

“What was really neat was how we were able to use our existing template library to create this brand-new microsite around this sponsored content,” confirms Crystal.

“And for the past two years, it has been a strong driver of traffic. It's been so successful that we’ve created a second series in Spanish to reach a broader audience. WWE was really happy with how it turned out, as this was a really cool microsite that we were able to build with very minimal, if any, development work.”

EKS and WWE have been the first of many successful Brightspot-powered Special Olympics microsites, including a health check microsite that turned flat PDFs into searchable, useful online content.

Summing up: The power of many on one platform

Parker says, “One of the things that's neat about Brightspot is its multisite capability—how we're able to manage multiple sites through a single CMS instance.

“That allows customers to maintain that brand consistency as everyone's working in the same environment. You’re not using disparate systems and logging into 100 different places to build a new web presence.

“Microsites can be a key tool for marketers if they're launching a new product and promotion to reach a new audience or an audience. They can be very specific to a program or initiative—whether it's to raise awareness, raise funds or just building out your core website property.”

To hear more about Special Olympics’ mission and how you could make building microsites as easy for your team as it is now for Crystal and her team, watch the webinar.
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