EDITORIAL: PR key to exploiting sponsor rights

The omnipresence of long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe in the UK media during the past few weeks has given a boost to UK athletic sponsorship. Radcliffe now looks likely to be one of the few British women athletes to earn a fortune both on and off the track.

According to the most recent World Sponsorship Monitor, sport remains easily the most popular choice for sponsorship - accounting for 79 per cent of investment worldwide in the first part of the year. But athletics inevitably lags behind football as the sponsors' sport of choice.

Times are tougher for both rights owners and sponsors across all sports, with an increasing emphasis on the need for significant investment in exploitational marketing and PR, and also on recognising the value of such leverage to both parties.

Radcliffe's success puts her in a category apart, for now at least, and while she is unlikely to sustain the awareness levels of David Beckham, she has already signed a deal with Flora on top of her Norwich Union and Nike sponsorships - and sports management agency Octagon is in talks with other potential sponsors. The key to unlocking her real value to brands, however, remains in the legwork her sponsors are willing to do in PR terms.

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