'Minority' sports bodies to up comms game

The UK's sporting bodies are preparing to redouble their comms efforts as they seek to capitalise on their time in the London 2012 spotlight and grab extra government funding.

Pedal power: BMX enjoyed high exposure during the Games
Pedal power: BMX enjoyed high exposure during the Games

As the national associations of sports such as handball and triathlon work on plans to increase participation and capture extra Sport England funding next year, discussions are already taking place to step up their comms efforts.

Sports federations British Cycling and British Triathlon have both signalled to PRWeek that they are considering plans to either bring in agency help or grow in-house teams following multi-million viewing figures during London 2012.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment MD Jamie WynneMorgan told PRWeek: 'Many sports will never have a better platform than this, and now governing bodies have to communicate what makes their sport different and exciting.'

Sports that have traditionally been minority pursuits in the UK, such as taekwondo, handball and BMX, now face a battle to retain their new-found visibility and secure state funding.

JTA was appointed last month by the World Taekwondo Federation in the run-up to the Games. JTA founder Jon Tibbs said: 'We will see a big upsurge in people trying to tap into the political goodwill that exists on the back of a highly successful Games.'

British Handball Association south area development manager Tom Smith told PRWeek that he hoped to build on interest developed during the Games by forging ties with county sports partnerships using agency Snowdon Sports. He added this may lead to further in-house hires.

Meanwhile, Point Communications MD Lee Murgatroyd - who works for GB Boxing - said there are plans in place to use the 'marketable faces' of the Olympics, particularly gold-winning Team GB boxer Nicola Adams, in campaigns to drive interest and participation in women's boxing.

'As we go forward, we know we have in Nicola someone who can help to spearhead attempts to broaden the appeal of women's boxing,' said Murgatroyd.

Wynne-Morgan warned that sports bodies needed to be aware of the closing window of opportunity, pointing to Saturday's start of the Premier League season as an immediate refocusing of national interest. 'Very quickly we will be back into football and people have short-term memories,' he said.

HOW I SEE IT

Eddie May, Co-founder, Threepipe

PR will be one of the key ways for minority sports to maintain momentum as they won't have big marketing budgets and will have to use the assets they have imaginatively. A good sponsor will play a key role in helping with these campaigns, and they often need an agency to help create the right work.

Andy Sutherden, Sports marketing & sponsorship MD, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

National governing bodies are going to look at the way they professionalise and package commercial rights. As part of this, they will need not just agencies that have worked with such bodies before, but those that are experts in behavioural change.

STATS

£600m - Funding offered by David Cameron for Olympic sports over next four years*

500% - Increase in press coverage around triathlon during summer period**

90% - Percentage of British population who watched the Games at some point*

15.3m - Number of people aged 16+ who take part in sport in the UK each week***

Source: *The BBC; **Zara Hyde, CEO, British Triathlon; ***Sport England

CASE STUDIES

How three Olympic sports have used the Games to widen their appeal

TRIATHLON

The British Triathlon website was redeveloped in December 2011 with the key objective to communicate the build-up to London 2012. Throughout the Games, British Triathlon aimed to activate the sport through partnerships with the triathlon fraternity, with particular emphasis on social media. A key element was a viral campaign, which generated almost 5,000 views during the Games period. Triathlon England employed some additional resources to promote Triathlon Live at eight city centre live sites including BT London Live in Hyde Park.

HANDBALL

Ahead of London 2012, the British Handball Association gained coverage on ITV's Daybreak, while revamping its website with a closer online integration between the English and Scottish arms. During the Games, its comms team capitalised on interest from celebrities such as Dame Kelly Holmes, retweeting her messages. Post-Olympics, the association will be promoting a 'how-to' guide emphasising how easily the sport can be played. There are also plans to use partnerships to spread the word and gain wider support.

CYCLING

British Cycling brought in former Press Association Olympics editor Scott Dougal to head its comms in May. He heads a team of one press officer, two corporate comms officers and a web team. Games-related activity included developing an Olympics website that showed how fans could get involved in cycling. The body has a number of high profile track cycling events planned to maximise post-Games interest, with Dougal adding there was a chance of agency help being brought in alongside a possible in-house team expansion.

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