UK Athletics to restructure comms for consumer brand focus

UK Athletics is restructuring its comms unit as it prepares to launch a consumer brand and become more commercially focused, post-Olympics.

Fast lane: Athletics enjoyed a high profile during London 2012
Fast lane: Athletics enjoyed a high profile during London 2012

Athletics’ governing body is set to take on the name of British Athletics as its consumer-facing brand in the New Year. The UK Athletics brand, traditionally associated with governance of athletics events, will become more of a ‘back office function’.

A number of UK Athletics’ 17-strong comms team, many of whom were appointed specifically to work on the Olympics, are now being shifted into new roles to prepare the British Athletics brand.

Liz Birchall, who was promoted to the role of head of marketing and comms earlier this month, said she couldn't comment on whether any jobs would be lost. Birchall, who replaced Claire Furlong after her departure in June, said a key part of the strategy was to become ‘more of a commercial organisation’.

She said the body was looking for ways of spending less on services and investing the money saved back into the sport.
UK Athletics planned the move before the summer but wanted to build on the confidence generated in the sport by the Olympics.

The comms unit’s objectives include communicating the breadth of sports available under the athletics tag, boosting the profile of the Paralympics and raising awareness of the range of levels at which athletics can be enjoyed.

UK Athletics ended its eight- year contract with Fast Track in March and there are currently no plans to hire alternative PR support. The athletics body is also planning a shake-up of its sponsors following last month’s split with Aviva, which had been its headline sponsor for 13 years.

Paralympic sprinter Sophia Warner, who joined UK Athletics in May as commercial director with responsibility for marketing and PR functions, said she expected to appoint around four to five sponsors with emphasis on the Para-lympics, elite training pathways, and community and school projects.

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