England and Wales Cricket Board launches digital initiatives for the Ashes

The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched a host of digital initiatives to help engage the British public in the Ashes series that started on Wednesday night in Australia.

Tweeters: some players will tweet from the Ashes
Tweeters: some players will tweet from the Ashes

The ECB has put its faith in a number of online and digital channels, despite having seen at first hand the pitfalls of communicating via social media. In September, the ECB fined England players Kevin Pietersen and Dimitri Mascarenhas for their angry reactions on Twitter to being left out of England teams.

But the ECB remains supportive of England players tweeting, with about half the side that was expected to take the field against Australia currently active on the site.

'You have to be aware of the great PR the players can give you,' said Steve Elworthy, ECB director of marketing and comms. 'When things go wrong on Twitter, there is the temptation to bring down the shutters and ban it, but that would be a terrible mistake.

'There needed to be an education programme to bring home the effect and consequences of what happens if the players don't think about what they print and tweet.'

Elworthy said that England team boss Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss sat the players down at the beginning of the tour to specifically address how the players should best communicate during the series.

The ECB's new digital initiatives include live player interviews on Facebook, video diaries from spin bowler Graeme Swann, live Twitter updates through the night, podcasts and apps.

With live action finishing at about 7am British time, the ECB is targeting office workers arriving at work with newly uploaded video content and exclusive online highlights.

The rationale behind the online comms drive is two-fold: to encourage interest in cricket and encourage spectators to attend domestic and international matches; and to encourage participation at one of the 6,000 cricket clubs around the country.

Elworthy added: 'With the way young people are consuming their media, we had no option but to change the way we communicate as an organisation.'

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