winning at mushing media marketing

Winning at Mushing Media Marketing: 21 Ways to Engage Fans Online

1. Share pre-season training.

Don’t make die-hards endure the dog days of summer more than they must, and treat fans to behind-the-scenes pre-season training sessions. Brent Sass and the crew at Wild and Free in Alaska are great at this. They share blog posts, pictures, training updates, and more. 

Photo Credit: Wild and Free

Note: This is a working document and we will add to it as we get more tips. If you have any that are not listed here, please reach out and let us know. We will give you credit too!

Even if you’re not racing in the Iditarod, the Fur Rondy or the Open North American, if your topic has a particularly high season, it’s important to find ways to maintain the conversation even during the downtime. Behind-the-scenes glimpses have the potential to satiate your most engaged audiences while raising awareness even during the off-season..

2. Post pre-race excitement and remind people of the important details.

Sometimes your content just needs to support the objective of getting small sponsors. Some mushers have social media teams or managers, while others don’t, and they are responsible for keeping their community informed about the events and updates in their (often rural) town. We suggest using YouTube Shorts, Reels, Stories, and TikTok to create on-the-fly posts that instantly communicate the most important information in a visual way.

3.Post highlights throughout the racing season.

Many mushers share excellent race recaps about their races, particularly the Iditarod. Morrison Racing Kennel in Montana shares their re-cap of the Race to the Sky that enabled them to qualify for the Iditarod.

Other ways to post highlights include sharing stats like race times and placements, also photos throughout the season for fans following along on social media. Using just your iPhone, you can capture compelling images, share the quick stats of the event, and brand the image with your social handle to help raise awareness about your team.

"Third place in the 300-mile Race to the Sky! We are Iditarod qualified, and I cannot wait to go back next year. A little bit of a race recap: these dogs kicked ass, and I’m going to brag about them a bit! For the first 200 miles of this race, we had extremely close run times to a top 5 Iditarod musher and 7x RTTS champ Jessie Royer and her second team raced by Erik Oline, which I’m pretty stoked about!"

4. Highlight a member of your organization/sponsors and top fans.

The official page of Jonathan Hayes of Maine pays homage to their top sponsor, Native Dog Food which was shared widely on socials. These mini-profiles of sponsors, other mushers on the team, the dogs, and lesser-known positions like handlers help you create a community around your organization, whether it’s sports-related or not. Instead of focusing purely on the races, try finding the human stories that make the sport much more than a series of races or events. 

5. Create visual recaps of races.

What’s the race that got everyone talking? Give your fans all the details with visual recaps of races.

Kristy Berington of Seeing Double Racing in Alaska does this very well. On Facebook she shared a visual update from the Iditarod trail.

A beautiful trail and sunrise lead us to Unalakleet. The dogs were moving right along, just eating up the miles. Triood was our last camp out for the race, from here to Nome, it would be checkpoint to checkpoint for us. Empty sleds whipped around corners and flew up the hills almost too fast for us to run along side of. Good thing we are runners with studded boots. When we pulled into Unalakleet where we were greeted by the village and a couple of pizzas! What a treat. There was also a very talented little boy who made us a few special sourdough pancakes in the shape of our initials. 🤩 We took a nice nap as the community buzzed about outside the peaceful quarters provided. We gathered our things and tended to the dogs who got a few pats and pets from the kids enjoying the spring like day. There was a breeze pushing and pulling the smell of bacon from my parka ruff and sweater. Unalakleet is known for the tremendous amount of bacon they feed to the mushers. But a breeze here means high winds in Shaktoolik, we would have our work cut out for us there. I looked at the National Weather forecast and it had a special statement and warning ⚠️ ⛔️ for wind the next 3 days. Oh boy. Here we go.

Photo Credit: Kristy Berington Facebook

6. Let star athletes shine.

Not only do stories profiling canine and human athletes help fans learn about their favorite teams, but portfolios featuring a dog or musher’s season highlights and stats can help the athletes stand out to potential sponsors.

A lot of mushing kennels share dog pictures and have Sponsor-a-Dog programs, one person that does this great is Cari Rorstrom a dog driver and dog trainer in Sweden.

Photo Credit Cari Rostrom Facebook

7. Create polls to get feedback.

It never hurts to explicitly ask what your fans want to see via interactive polls on Facebook and Twitter. This goes for all industries and goals. Your most engaged audience will give you insight into your community that both offers immediate, interactive content, and informs future strategy.

What Others Are Saying

8. Let the fans be part of the story.

Your biggest fans will hype up the energy and help make races to remember. On Twitter, this is the most apparent with the #UglyDogs. This vibrant and extremely active community has changed how the sport is followed in recent years.

The group also does a huge amount of good too. They help raise tens of thousands of dollars yearly for their Igivearod, and post musher-grams, and buy pizzas for the mushers in Unakaleet.

9. Post positive attitudes.

Many mushers are not shy about posting thoughts on races, training, and other ramblings. Let the opposing teams and your fans know how the mushers, handlers, and kennel crew feel on the days, hours, and minutes right before the big race starts. It lends a human element to the conversation, inspiring a greater connection between fans and participants.

10. Take fans to the race.

Bring your mushing fans along with race photos of the starting chute, pre-race tailgates, musher meetings, post-race banquets, and if possible checkpoint photos and interviews.

The ceremonial start in Anchorage and the re-start in Willow the next day is one of the best places to showcase the pre-race festivities, including the infamous tailgating along the lakes. 

Some of the best at social media and fan engagement are the John Beargrease in Minnesota, the Kobuk 400, the Kusko 300 in Alaska, and the Finnmarkslopet

11. Show the athletes off the trail.

Even little league athletes have the potential to become town heroes. And certainly, student and pro athletes become well-known members of the community. Show their personalities and good deeds off the trail to encourage fandom from the spectators and community involvement from the participants.

A great way to showcase the dogs is how they are living the laid-back retired life!

12. Recall the past.

A mushing team’s history and achievements has the power to attract new fans and sponsors. The best thing about this story is that its evergreen nature means it can work for your social feeds over and over again.

Trailbreaker Kennel in Alaska has a long and storied history dating back to the Susan Butcher days of dominating the sport. On their website, they have a cool timeline feature

13. Showcase contributions to the community.

Way more than just a race, mushing teams can be powerful forces for change in the community. Let those contributions be known with power. Battle Dawgs in Alaska is committed to assisting our military veterans. They run first-class programs that provide a unique experience to help our wounded veterans thrive.

Photo Credit: Battle Dawgs Facebook

14. Celebrate birthdays.

Help your fans get to know the dogs and the mushers by recognizing every athlete on their big day. Boom. Easiest Tweet of the day!

15. Inform fans of injuries and drops and other team roster moves.

Use socials to bring fans up to speed on rapid changes.

16. Get behind the scenes.

Ryne Olson and her team at Ryno Kennel do an excellent job on their website to show life in Alaska, and it’s not always just mushing. She talks about caribou herds, permafrost, summer trips, and more. 

17. Exploit the rivalry.

Like most sports, capitalizing on intense rivalries encourages fans to create most of the content for you, making your job way easier. Retweet impassioned rally cries or good-natured trolling of rival teams by fans. Just as any good content strategy requires a deep understanding of the competitive space, a mushing social team should know what its rivals share. Consider setting up Google alerts or Twitter searches for your top rivals to stay on top of the latest and capitalize on unexpected tweetable moments in real-time.

Case in point: remember when Lance Mackey snuck out in the middle of the night? 

18. Use private photos and videos to make it personal.

Allow audiences to customize their fan experience and share it with their closest friends. As mentioned herein, the #UglyDogs are masters at highlighting the intense appetite fans have for an intimate connection with their favorite participants.

19. Bridge the connection between fashion and sports.

Mushing and fashion might not seem like natural complements to each other, but when you consider the sporting goods industry, including parkas, boots, fancy hats, headlamps, and other apparel, make up an estimated $65 billion dollars in 2015, the sports apparel industry should definitely have a place in your social media strategy. Whether you’re showcasing limited edition shirts for your team or unveiling new fan gear, marketing sport goods can help the bottom line and your social media feeds.

While most mushers are not known for their fancy attire during races, do you remember the infamous sweater Dallas Seavey wore during the race? The sweater even had its own Twitter account

Photo Credit: Anchorage Daily News (

20. Let athletes and their families do the tweeting.

Take one quick look at social media and you will find that most mushing teams are on at least one social media platform, with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular.

So harness those unfiltered opinions to let the impassioned characters in your organization do the talking for you. Retweet clever tweets and elevate important conversations without getting into the fray yourself, just be careful you’re not dangerously courting controversy.

If you follow the Iditraod, you know that there are some really great posts during the race by those back at home. Some of the best were Aily Zirkle’s crew when she was running, and another is Mel from Team Ollie when her husband is on the trail. 

You know you're tired from all things Iditarod when you can't find your headlamp, that you just saw earlier, and race around in a panic. So many do I feed in the dark, shoot I have dogs coming back, where could it have possibly gone, oh gosh I'm going to have to buy a new one, and geez they'll be expensive.

21. Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye to a team member is often one of the most difficult things to do in the sled dog world. Take some time to share stories and pictures of the canine athletes in your team that have passed on. 

Also, on another note, just like in other sports, news about retirement is often big news and worthy of a share. Remember when Dallas Seavey retired

Bonus Tips:

The following tips take considerable effort but should pay huge dividends in getting your message out there to your fans, sponsors, and supporters. Note: Many of these extra tips will require an investment of money as well. As they say, nothing in life is free. 

Start a Podcast.

If you have been following us for any time now, you know just how effective a podcast can be for your personal brand. People love stories, and what better way than to have you in their earbuds as they go about their day? 

We have created a whole guide on why mushers should start a podcast and it is full of tips to get your creative juices flowing. 

Just know that starting a podcast is not an immediate return. It can take a while to catch on and build up a loyal audience but once you do it is gold.

Last year we worked with the folks over at the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race and helped them start their own podcast, Canadian Challenge Tales. They interview mushers signing up for the race, officials like the race marshall, veterinarians, and more. 

Check out their podcast on Dog Works Radio

Canadian challenge tales podcast

Be a Guest on Mushing Radio.

The Mushing Radio podcast has been on the air since 2010 and has interviewed literally hundreds of dog mushers from around the world. 

Even if you are nervous during interviews, our own Robert Forto, the host of the show will make you feel at ease. This is a great opportunity to share updates, tell your fans about your dogs, showcase sponsors and supporters. This is YOUR show so why not schedule a time to be interviewed today?

Each episode reaches more that 10,000 people and will give you an instant media boost and new fans from around the globe. 

Did you know that these interviews are available forever–and you can embed the player on your own website or social sites? We have had fans contact us and say that they listen to an interview with DeeDee Jonrowe that we did eight years ago and another fan said they they binge old episode while doing chores in the dog yard. 

Ask For Reviews.

Many mushing kennels offer tours and kennel visits and build up a viable business this way. 

When choosing an experience, nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as their personal network. So, learning how to ask for Tripadvisor online reviews can be an indispensable tool for marketing your business. 

While Google Reviews and social media testimonials can be helpful, one of the best options for reviews is listing your business on a tour comparison site, such as Tripadvisor

Online directories like Tripadvisor provide a platform for guests to compare businesses based on others’ experiences, and as travelers, they’re looking to find the best experience possible.

To benefit from reviews, you’ll need to ask guests for them. And while this might feel awkward, visitors love to share their feedback and sometimes need encouragement.

After a thrilling activity or relaxing getaway, guests are often excited and happy to spread the word. 

Jeff and Katie, Jo Deeter of Black Spruce Dog Sledding, are doing it right! They have more than 900 reviews on Trip Advisors and are one of Alaska’s top kennel tours. 


Set Up a Patreon Page.

People love to be in exclusive clubs. Remember when you were a kid, and had a little group of friends who did everything together? You were your version of The Goonies or Stranger Things, replete with a treehouse fort in the neighborhood. 

This is similar to what Patreon can do for your most loyal fans.

One huge benefit to Patreon is that you can create “exclusive” stuff–like shirts, mugs, stickers, behind-the-scenes content, private calls to fans, and much more! You set up ‘tiers’ and offer different ‘perks’ for each tier. Just know that if a patron cancels their membership, all of their access is gone at that moment, so you need to consider it when using this strategy. 

For creators-Patreon gives you the tools to confidently reach, engage, and get paid by your most valuable fans — with and beyond membership — no matter where you are on your journey. You fully own your direct relationship with your fans, and we build the tools to help you grow over time. It’s free to start on Patreon, and you can add paid membership and commerce tools whenever expanding your business feels right for you.

You can learn more about becoming a creator on Patreon by visiting

For members-Patreon is a way to join and engage with your favorite creator’s community. No algorithms or doom scrolling here — you’ll have a dedicated place to get content from the creators you know and love. If creators offer paid membership or sell digital products, you can pay them directly for exclusive content, knowing you’re supporting them to create more of the work you love. 

For customers-Patreon lets creators sell digital products directly to you, their most valuable fans. You can shop, buy, and consume digital products in one space.

Blair Braverman is on Patreon and doing it right with more than 2200 patrons! That is very impressive. Just know that it is a lot of work and effort to build up a robust community like Blair and Otter Run Kennel in Minnesota, but it can be done.

Blair Braverman on Patreon

Start a Newsletter.

Newsletters are an amazing way to communicate with your customers, subscribers, or fans in a personalized way. They are a means to deliver the right message at the right time to engage your following. We send out a quick newsletter every week to our 6000+ subscribers. 

Business gurus and top marketers will tell you that your email list is the most valuable asset for your business. If you think about it, just about all of the tips on this list require you to engage with your audience on another platform. What would happen if that platform went away tomorrow or if they canceled your account for some reason? It does and can happen!

Poof, all of your hard work, blood, sweat, and tears are gone instantly with a lockdown or “social media jail.” 

With a robust email list, you can do pretty much everything in this guide all at once. Of course, there are many pros and cons, including your email going to the dreaded spam folder, but this media strategy works!

Write a Press Release.

There are many ways you can tell the world about exciting updates from your company, your racing accomplishments or team. If you’re looking to create awareness with local media outlets, issuing a press release can be a great way to achieve that exposure. Once you’ve determined this is the right way to share your news, make sure your press release includes each of the following elements:

  1. Headline and subhead
  2. Informative opening paragraph
  3. A compelling quote
  4. Additional details
  5. Boilerplate
  6. Contact information

Here, we’ll use a dog mushing college class in Alaska  to demonstrate how to write a press release. Examples of each section of the press release are included. 

Bonus Tip: If you are an accomplished writer and know how to navigate the media outlets you can subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and get daily updates from journalists/news outlets that are looking for stories. 

Get Behind the Mic.

Much like starting a podcast, another great way to reach your loyal fans and supporters and a whole new audience is to get behind the microphone with other creators.

Here is a quick list of benefits of being on other people’s podcasts, but this works the same for Youtube videos, news interviews, blog interviews, etc.

  • Puts you in front of an Engaged Audience
  • Increases Brand Awareness and Visibility
  • Creates Relationships With Listeners
  • Builds Stronger Credibility
  • Brings More Traffic to Your Websites
  • Helps Feed the Content Machine
  • Attains New Bragging Rights
  • Elevates Career

Create a Hashtag. 

Digital marketing tools like hashtags are a great way to reach your target audience and encourage people to join the conversation. Sports marketing campaigns used hashtags like #WhatsYourGoal and #ThisGirlCan to make it easy for people to engage online.  

Come up with something short, sweet, and memorable. Then try it for yourself! One of the tags that we use is #dogpod, and if you click on that, you will see on Twitter all of the posts that are curated with that tag. Imagine what that can do for your team. Just look what the #uglyddogs have been able to do!

Also, did you know you can also pay upwards of a million dollars to create your hashtag with an emoji? The NHL Team, Seattle Kraken has done this: 

Run a Contest or Giveaway. 

Similar to our advice on creating a Patreon page, people love freebies, so offering a prize to your target audience is a good sports marketing plan. 

While this works great for big-time sports teams like the NFL, for example, if you’re promoting sporting events, offer free tickets or merchandise to get people talking about your sporting events. Who wouldn’t love a trip to the playoffs in their favorite league? Super Bowl season is a perfect opportunity for this.

This could also work for mushing fans too, and an idea could be the chance to “handle” at a local race or fans-only meet-and-greet dinner the night before a race at a local brewery or restaurant. Of course, this strategy will cost you some money, but what better way to gain loyal fans and…

Bonus tip: encourage those that attend to tag your socials or, better yet, use the hashtag strategy too. 

Partner With a Brand.

Many brands want to sponsor or collaborate with sports teams (and yes, even mushers). For example, McDonald’s is an official restaurant sponsor of the NFL. 

You can work with sports marketing agencies or directly with sponsors to create sports marketing campaign strategies that promote their name and your brands. Athlete endorsements make this approach even better! 

Here in Alaska, you see commercials with Dallas Seavey, Jeff King, The Berington Twins, and Joar Ulsom is in an ad for a chiropractor that plays at the Anchorage airport. We are sure you have seen “mushing heroes” in your area promoting everything under the sun. 

Become an ‘Influencer’. 

In line with partnering with brands, and becoming an ‘influencer’ on social media (whatever that means to you), sports fans love marketing campaigns that feature someone they admire. While you may not be able to be one of the top athletes in the sport or a ‘celebrity’ on and off the trail, that’s not required to create engaging content. You can team up with other influential people and create meaningful partnerships!

Check out nonprofit organizations, too, which could be a great way to get your foot in the door!

Write That Book.

Many mushers love to write and what better way to get your story out into the world and create a lasting legacy than writing a book. 

There are many ways to get this done. You can do it the traditional way with writing a proposal, finding an agent, and getting it published. This is a very long, time consuming process and sometimes your book never gets published. 

You can go the self publishing route. Many have done this route in recent years.

You can even do e-books and Amazon can walk you through it every step of the way. 

Some mushers that have written very good books: Martin Buser, DeeDee Jonrowe, Alex M. Stein, Blair Braverman, Libby Riddles, Rod Perry, Mitch Seavey, Kristin Knight-Pace, Lance Mackey, Jonathan Hayes, Robert Forto and Hugh Neff, and many more. 

Cookbooks, Calendars, Coloring Books. 

In the same category of writing a book, wouldn’t it be fun to write a cookbook about your favorite recipes on and off the trail?

How about having professional pictures taken of your dogs and team and creating a calendar. 

Or how about a coloring book? Professional filmmaker and photographer, Jermey T. Grant (The Timber Cross) who has worked with a few mushers on media projects recently created a coloring book using his award winning photography and a bit of AI to create a coloring book that people are clamoring for all over Maine and beyond. 

Get on TV.

If your kennel is a business or you have a special cause, mission, product or service to promote why not get on TV? Many local TV stations (ABC, FOX, CW, etc.) have ad space for sale where local businesses can get their message in front of many eyes. 

Alaska Dog Works (which is the business behind Team Ineka mushing kennel) did this for their Camp training program during Covid, which paid off big time. This was not cheap, costing well over a thousand dollars a month for four commercials a day on two of the channels in Alaska, but their training program costs more than $2000, so selling just one a month from someone seeing the commercial on TV was a win-win. 

Winning the Big Race.

What better way to attract massive amounts of media attention than winning the big race. It doesn’t have to be the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest, Fur Rondy, or the Finnmarkslopet but it could be the local race like the Eagle River Classic which has a history that goes back decades. Even with these smaller races, the local media may be onsite and interview you for a news story or the newspaper. This story can be shared across the media and the next thing you know you have interview requests from around the country. 

Hello, Good Morning America

Iditarod winner Ryan Redington, whose grandfather Joe Redington Sr. is known as the founding father of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race, poses with his lead dogs Ghost and Sven at the finish line in Nome, Alaska, U.S. March 14, 2023. The Nome Nugget/Diana Haecker via REUTERS

Make a Documentary.

Why not go all in and create a lasting legacy for your team and create a full-length, professionally produced documentary?

A documentary is an amazing way to share the story of your business, its people, and the community around it. The benefits of documentary-style content or corporate video production go beyond simple video content; it creates a narrative between the audience to your business, forming a connection that money can’t buy. It’s advertising without advertising, and it works!

A documentary is typically a non-fiction film that is used for education, history, or celebrating a milestone, such as a team competing in the Iditarod or putting forth a cause they truly believe in.  It’s an opportunity for reflection, celebration, and commendation for the business’ achievements. Whether it’s the history of the business, a day in the life of your team or employees, or a reflection on the company’s values, these stories make sure amazing, sharable content is viewed across digital platforms.

Our own, Robert and Michele Forto, are doing this with the help of professional filmmaker Jeremy T. Grant (The Timber Cross) of Maine. Here’s their take on why documentary-style videos are an effective way for their businesses to showcase themselves and connect with their audience without ‘selling’ themselves directly. Just know this is not cheap. They have budgeted tens of thousands of dollars for this project.

This is a trailer for their documentary that will be done sometime around 2026. 

Have any winning social media moments in your team’s online history? Share it with us by tagging #DogPod

Robert Forto is the executive producer of Mushing Radio and the co-founder of First Paw Media, and a longtime dog musher at Team Ineka. Forto has a Master of Sports Management and is working on his doctorate in Strategic Leadership. 

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