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May 8, 2014

The Core Principles of Sports PR

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We work in a dynamic industry whereby we need to keep moving and improving just to keep pace. The role of PR, content and social media is changing everyday as marketers look for cut through amongst jaded consumers.

However I feel there’s some core principles that need to be remembered whenever a PR campaign is being planned. I’ve seen, and occasionally worked on, many brands that announce a sponsorship and expect PR to follow, with little or no creative thought as to what will actually have traction with media and the relevant audience. Here’s my list, and the questions you need to ask yourself:

Talent: A strong figurehead, ambassador or well-known supporter of the campaign is crucial. Unless it’s a huge story, rarely will a sports-related piece be of interest to media when there is no name attached. This applies to players, clubs, institutions and experts or coaches.

Visuals: Strong visuals are absolutely key to driving large-scale news features. Image and video content provide journalists with more to work with and a better experience for the reader. They bring the campaign to life and provide content for traditional, new, earned and owned media channels, as previously mentioned.

Newsworthiness: Is there a story to tell? Is there a narrative that journalists will be interested in that goes further than the general sponsorship story? Trying to PR a branded news item can be difficult. There needs to be something interesting to see or do, something new being said or displayed, or an innovative concept being launched.

Relevancy/Timing: Is the story relevant to the current news agenda? Or are we talking about a sport in the off-season or the Olympics/World Cups between events? Doing this can have benefits (as journalists may seek that content) but it won’t be a widespread PR outreach. Timing is also vital, with midweek launches far more likely to be successful away from the busy weekend sports news.

Fan Engagement: It’s not an original concept, but brands that are genuinely providing a new experience for the fans will get news cut through. Whether it’s via technology or something else, a new and unique concept will have traction with the relevant media.

News Agenda: What is on the current news agenda? Is there a big scandal, injury update or controversy that will take up the back pages? This will take priority every time over a PR story.

Online & Offline: Does the story have the legs to sit across multiple platforms? Can the brand create additional content from the story that can be shared across social media and other owned channels?

Budget: PR does not traditionally demand a significant chunk of the overall budget, but it needs to be considered. Holding tactical PR launches are key to driving coverage and having videographers and photographers on hand to capture the newsworthy content is also important.

Grassroots/Youth: This can’t always be applied but it’s great to have children or a grassroots element involved in the activity. This provides strong visuals for media, as well as credibility to the campaign and drives brand advocacy.


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