Influencer Relations: Dala Scores a ‘Touchdown,’ Securing Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten as an Influencer for Capital One’s STEM event

Influencers are a growing part of integrated, multi-tiered communications strategies, but even though this is a rising trend, the key to successful influencer relations is finding the right influencer with the right audience. In today’s media climate, it seems like there is a new “influencer” popping up every day. “How do you know which influencer is right for you?” “How do you know when to use an influencer?” These two questions are at the heart of what our clients ask us when they are considering a multi-tiered communications strategy. At Dala, the core of every client campaign begins with one simple question – who is your audience? Once you can answer this question, then you can build an effective campaign around that core audience that breaks down into multiple objectives and strategies that deliver clear and actionable KPIs. We wanted to share a fun, successful example of one of our more recent influencer campaigns we brought to life with a player from America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys!

This spring, our client Capital One Financial Services hosted an inaugural STEM/coding event as a part of a national initiative to teach 10,000 students the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI). Called the Basic TrAIning: Bot Camp, Capital One hosted nearly 1,000 Dallas ISD high schoolers from 9th and 10 grades. While the students knew they were attending a coding workshop and attempting to set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest AI programming lesson, they didn’t know a well-known guest would make a surprise appearance and speak on the importance of STEM education. Dala was tasked with an end-to-end influencer marketing program for this event. Want the sideline interview on how we tackled this challenge head on? Take a look!

Huddle Up! Finding the perfect influencer

Our team was tasked with finding an influencer for this special event. The client requested to source a local (North Texas), highly recognized individual who could serve as a brand ambassador, appeal to high schoolers and generate high levels of engagement (both in person and online) – all within Capital One’s event budget.

After identifying our key audience coupled with thoughtful research, we landed on recommending Jason Witten, tight end player from the Dallas Cowboys as a lifestyle influencer for this campaign. Why Jason?

  • He just announced his return to the Cowboys. Jason’s name was buzzing in the news right before Capital One’s event. It gave us an opportunity to latch onto a current news trend where we knew we could garner media interest (in which PR folks always have an eye out for trends in media!), and the Dallas football community was already so excited.

  • He was the perfect fit for our audience of high schoolers – we knew his appearance would “wow” the kids because if you’re from Dallas, it’s highly likely that the Cowboys are your favorite team!

  • He’s a father of four. Jason supports STEM education and understands the viable and ample jobs that will be possible for his children when they grow up.   

  • He’s a people person and a trusted name. Jason is a friendly and warm guy who enjoys interacting with adults and children from all walks of life. His positive reputation was important to our client.

  • High social media following. Jason’s social media pages have a dedicated following with incredible numbers. Not only did we focus on finding an influencer with a large following, his engagement rates (likes, shares and comments) were also impressive.

  • And, to top it off, the “Basic trAIning Bot Camp”” name lent itself well to the sports theme.


Ready, Set, Hike! Influencer marketing in motion

After reaching out to Jason’s agent and solidifying the contract, we were ready to roll. We drafted an influencer PR plan on how to maximize Jason’s appearance at the event and online, alongside showcasing Capital One’s messaging to the public. With Jason, we knew had an engaged online following and we worked alongside his agent to ensure we spread Capital One’s brand messaging and create awareness for its new, first-of-its-kind interactive training to teach high school students’ digital skills for the future. The program is designed to expand high school students’ awareness of AI and machine learning, and spark interest and curiosity in STEAM fields.

Some of the big tactics included:

  • Developing messaging that showed the importance of STEM education and what companies like Capital One are doing to spark interest of STEM in our future workforce

  • Drafted social media content for Jason’s and Capital One’s pages to be published during the event

  • Pitched top-tier media to interview Jason and the Capital One spokesperson during the event

  • Partnered with schools in attendance to amplify awareness via their social media channels

  • Utilized the power of word-of-mouth from the students and teachers in attendance, and watched the viral nature as students, teachers and Capital One associates shared their photos with Jason on their social channels



The campaign yielded impressive results both within the media, as well as on social media. Several top-tier media outlets, covered the event including Dallas Innovates, Dallas Observer and FOX 4. Overall, we garnered more than 1.5 million impressions from all media stories following the event.  


On social media, Jason’s Facebook post garnered 355,813 combined impressions (likes, shares and comments).


Until the next big game…

As you can see, influencer marketing has many powerful tangible benefits (follower engagement, authentic content and driving traffic for a brand), and it’s no wonder this is a widely used plan in today’s marketing communications era. A strong influencer relationship drives real impact for a brand, and you can have fun doing it! What are some examples of influencer marketing you’ve seen lately? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leah EkmarkComment