From June onwards, the UK has been enjoying an unrivalled festival of sport, beginning with tennis at Queen’s and Wimbledon and incorporating the British Grand Prix and another home Ashes cricket series. It will culminate in the Rugby World Cup this autumn.
Beyond the sheer entertainment that such world-class sport delivers, it also provides unrivalled global content for the PR and marketing sector. There are few forms of content that offer such deep engagement for such a broad range of geographies and demographics.
And yet, surprisingly, our industry has few significant agencies specialising in sport. Probably the biggest, albeit a multi-discipline operation, is CSM, of which Lord Coe is now executive chairman. So PRWeek decided to quiz the former Olympian and MP on some of the challenges facing this market (p20). We also talked to other specialists including M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment and Pitch in this month’s main feature (p16). With the right management, these businesses could eventually challenge global giants such as WME/IMG, which have successfully allied sport with Hollywood glamour. Sport also provides opportunities for many client-side PRs and marketers.
But while the sport market quietly soars in value it also faces serious challenges. Its increasingly international, glamorous and lucrative nature makes it a magnet for those tempted to push ethical boundaries. In recent years, we have seen a series of drugs and corruption scandals at the highest level.
This does offer great potential for PR specialists who can handle crises effectively and create more encouraging narratives for the decent majority. Nevertheless, sport’s continued growth as a content business relies heavily on participants, administrators and marketing specialists standing up for what is right – Corinthian values in which Britain once led the world. We are fortunate in this country to still boast a handful of such sportspeople and the UK can be a beacon for sporting excellence and integrity, but there is no room for complacency.
Indeed, I would argue that sport offers untapped potential for the type of values-based comms that drives the whole industry forward. London 2012 stands out as one of the greatest PR-led campaigns ever seen. Behind it were both Lord Coe (who was chairman) and his current deputy Jackie Brock-Doyle (who was director of comms). Let’s hope we see similar visionary leadership throughout this year, both inside and outside the sporting arena.
Danny Rogers, editor-in-chief