A Conversation With Leroy Shafer
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A Conversation With Leroy Shafer

In honor of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo™ kicking off this week, we proudly bring you the newest episode of the Amplifier Event Marketing Podcast featuring their very own, Chief Operating Officer, Leroy Shafer. He began his career at the Show in 1973 as Assistant Manager for Public Relations and worked his way up in the organization until he was elected to his current position in 2005. In March 2013, Mr. Shafer was announced as interim President and Chief Executive Officer, and served in that position until August 2013. 
"Shafe" (as his friends call him) was actively involved in the design of the new Reliant Stadium and Reliant Center and has represented the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in negotiations with Harris County and the NFL. He has been instrumental in developing the Show into an internationally-known entertainment and sports extravaganza with state-of-the-art presentation technology. Under his direction, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has developed a complete in-house advertising and marketing agency, a radio and television production facility, and a sponsorship program considered among the best in the sports and entertainment industry.
Beginning in 1974, Shafer directed the marketing and presentation of music concerts at the Show. Under his direction in 1981, the first large-screen replay system in stadium sports was introduced for the concerts and rodeo performances in the Astrodome. In the mid-80s, Shafer was instrumental in developing a series of surveys and computer programs to analyze the audience draw and customer satisfaction quotients for concert artists at the Show. Those programs, rewritten and refined many times, still serve as a basis for signing Show concert talent.
He has been active in youth and community efforts, supporting and working with the 4-H and FFA organizations on local and state levels. Shafer has served on numerous committees and task forces supporting sports stadium referendums and convention and trade show facility construction in Houston. He developed a student intern program that has benefited hundreds of students at Texas A&M University. He served as chairman of the Houston South Main Alliance from 2005 to 2007, and he currently serves on its executive committee.
In this informative interview, Mr. Shafer shares his thoughts on not just surviving, but thriving in the event industry. Listen as he tells his secrets to success in this ever-changing world, staying on top of new technology, merchandising and marketing trends as they emerge. He discusses the importance of keeping your eye on the ball at all times, and not just knowing your audience demographics, but staying in touch as those demographics change, and adjusting your messaging and media outlets to reach the right people at the right time.

Listen Now


Key Episode Moments:

  1. 3:15 - How the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo turned the “Harlem Shake” into a mass media event – doing the unexpected to get noticed and create a buzz 
  2. 7:53 – 14:45 – How the Show featuring Hollywood celebrity resulted in not only exposure, but an ongoing friendship that continues to provide awareness of the Rodeo on a nationwide scale.
  3. 19:23 – The benefits of merchandise is not the revenue it generates for any event or venue but instead is the branding, and creating that brand is priceless.
  4. 26:22 - Turning point of the Show was adding entertainment - Gene Autry for the 1942 show. Then Pearl Harbor happened and blackouts were ordered across the country. The President asked cities to carry on with their “Fatstock” shows as they were called, dedicated to the war effort.    
  5. 31:30 - The realization that the Rodeo committee was aging and how Shafer challenged the members to recruit younger members, as well as the importance of Market Research and knowing “Who is your current audience?” and “Who is your potential audience?”
  6. 49:00 - Learn how people get their news and decide what they want to get involved in. How you reach people keeps changing and you need to keep up with it.
  7. 53:25 - Do surveys to ask your customer what they want and then deliver it! Change your product and presentation to meet an ever-changing demographic.

Watch the Videos

Rodeo Houston's Harlem Shake 
2014 Moves Like Jagger RODEOHOUSTON Unplugged 

Leroy Shafer's Organizations

4-H Youth Development Organization
Future Farmers of America
International Association of Fairs & Expos
Texas Association of Fairs & Events
The Amplifier is brought to you by Saffire in cooperation with IAFE, IFEA, IAVM and WFA. For more information or feedback, please contact info@saffire.com.

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