Dr. Katie Lebel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marketing Management. Her research is focused in the area of sport marketing, with a particular interest in digital brand management and social media engagement strategies. This work has resulted in several publications as well as consulting opportunities with both athletes and sport organizations.
A former NCAA Division I athlete, Katie earned her PhD at The University of Western Ontario where her dissertation focused on the use of Twitter as a branding tool for professional athletes. She began her academic career at St. John’s University in New York City and joined the TRSM faculty in the fall of 2016. Her research is currently focused on social media marketing strategies in sport and innovation specific to the marketing of women’s sport.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Western University: Ph.D.
Western University: M.A.
St. John's University: B.A.
Selected Media Appearances (4)
#TimesUp in sport, too
The Globe and Mail online
Katie Lebel is an assistant professor of marketing at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
The momentum of the #MeToo movement has inspired women in a variety of industries to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment. As the issue has gained traction, we find ourselves amid a reignited conversation surrounding gender equality. But the world of sport has remained relatively silent on this matter. As a former athlete, a sport researcher and a new mother to a little girl, I can't help but ask: where's the #TimesUp reckoning in sport?
All Guts, No Glory - Curbing Bias Against Women in Sport
Carleton Newsroom online
A different marketing strategy that many women’s sporting events have adopted is to appeal to families, according to Lebel. She notes that women’s sports events tend to have lower ticket prices, making it more economical for families to bring their children.
Lee has been busy co-ordinating a major initiative for the International Olympic Committee that’s a potential game-changer for women’s sports: the IOC Gender Equality Review Project. The entire review, released in April, contains 25 recommendations and 80 detailed actions.
Sports Sponsorship: Is Fan Affinity Data the Future?
Business 2 Community online
Katie Lebel, Sport and Social Media Researcher, shared her thoughts on the digital activation side of sponsorships: “I think it boils down to the fact that digital sponsorships have the potential to be far more dynamic than some of the traditional activations we are used to seeing. (...)
Winter Olympics and Marketing Opportunities for Athletes
680 News Toronto radio
Click view more to listen to the radio clip.
Selected Articles (9)
Pegoraro, A., Lebel, K., & Harman, A. (In press). In Lough, N. & Gueurin, A. (Eds.)
Lebel, K., Harman, A., & Pegoraro, A. (In press)
Lebel, K., & Danylchuk, K. (In press)
Aichen, B., Lebel, K., & Clavio, G.
While social media provide channels to engage customers, social media engagement is neither a well-defined nor well-understood term. The purpose of this study was to examine how sport fans view their own social media engagement, better understand what social media engagement means to them, and work to discover what types of social media content they find “engaging”. Through a series of focus groups, this exploratory research found that sport consumers are diverse in their understanding of engagement. Results suggest that sportminded social media users have embraced a wide variety of social media interaction strategies that go beyond traditional measures and definitions of engagement. Given that consumer engagement is frequently touted as the ultimate goal of social media marketing, these findings encourage sport marketers to reconsider current engagement measures and develop more sophisticated content strategies for optimal consumer interaction.
Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk, Patti Millar
This research explored the use of social media within the sport management discipline in a North American context, specifically investigating how sport management academicians use social media as a teaching and learning tool. An online survey garnered the social media literacies of sport management faculty (N = 132). Compared with cross-discipline studies that have measured similar interests, sport management faculty appear to have a limited awareness of social media applications. Only 61% of study participants reported having incorporated social media into their course design. While a majority of faculty agreed that the use of social media in education can provide positive enhancement to both teaching and learning, in practice, participant social media teaching strategies were narrowly employed. Results suggest a potential disconnect between the digital pedagogies currently employed by sport management faculty, the expectations of students, and most importantly, the demands of the sport industry.
Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk
This study investigated how professional athletes present themselves in their Twitter profile pictures and how athlete self-presentation is interpreted by a Generation Y audience (N = 206). Goffman’s theory of self-presentation guided the analysis with a specific focus on the notions of front- and backstage performances as they relate to impression-management strategies. Participants assessed a sample of profile photos of the most followed male and female athletes on Twitter by providing their first impressions of each athlete’s image and then evaluating photo favorability and effectiveness. This research provides evidence to suggest that individuals invest meaning in the social cues provided in athlete profile pictures. Athletes who highlighted a sport context were consistently ranked most favorably and effectively and were linked with positive word associations. These findings underscore the importance of a strategic alignment between social-media profile content, profile photos, and the brand established by athletes.
Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk
This study explored how sport consumers interpret athlete self-presentation on Twitter and distinguished the perceived importance of digital self-presentation on athlete image. A self-administered online survey based on Goffman’s (1959) theoretical framework of self- presentation was created to measure audience interest in the digital presentation strategies used by athletes. A definition and specific example were provided for 10 self-presentation strategies, after which participants were asked to rate their level of interest (N = 377). The most salient strategy reported was that of the sport insider. Participants reported greatest interest in the discussion of athlete performance, athlete fitness, and an athlete’s sport expertise.The study suggests that fans may not be as interested in the personal details of an athlete’s life outside of sport as previously suggested. A disconnect between the self-presentation strategies being employed by athletes on Twitter and the strategies sport consumers report being most interested in was also identified.
Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk
The innovations of social media have altered the traditional methods of fan–athlete interaction while redefining how celebrity athletes practice their roles as celebrities. This study explored gender differences in professional athletes’ self-presentation on Twitter. Content analyses were used to compare male and female athletes’ tweets relayed by all professional tennis players with a verified Twitter account. Profile details and messages were scoured for themes and patterns of use during the time surrounding the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Goffman’s seminal 1959 theory of self-presentation guided the analysis. While athlete image construction was found to be largely similar between genders, male athletes were found to spend more time in the role of sport fan while female athletes spent more time in the role of brand manager.
Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk
The purpose of this study was to gain insight into Generation Y’s perceptions of women’s sport in the media. Twenty-four participants were recruited and organized into 4 gender-specific focus groups. Participants identified televised sport as a primary and preferred method of sport consumption. Women’s sports were linked with inaccessibility and perceived as inferior to men’s sport in terms of athletic skill and general atmosphere. An underrepresentation of women’s sport in the media was held responsible for the limited awareness surrounding women’s sport. Societal expectations instilled during early socialization processes and limited female opportunity in sport also emerged as critical barriers. Most participants regarded the inequality in women’s sport with indifference and were satisfied as sport enthusiasts with the opportunities for consumption available in men’s sport. This conservative approach to women’s sport suggests that Generation Y’s perceptions wield noteworthy influence on their sport consumption behaviors.