How Advances in Online Communication Are Changing Sports PR Practice

In the past ten years, the internet has totally revolutionised the practice of every aspect of public relations, and sports PR is no exception to this. The technological revolution has not only changed the way PR agencies communicate but has changed the very nature of communication.

Readership of printed newspapers and magazines has plummeted as the vast majority of us now hear about events and incidents through online and social media news sources. Many traditional media outlets have experienced declining circulation, though some have capitalised on new trends by offering free and subscription-based online tablet-friendly versions of their publications to their readers. The majority of journalists and PR professionals now believe that the “death” of traditional newspapers is inevitable and most will no longer exist in 10-15 years’ time.

As readership shifts from traditional to online media, so has the focus of many tech savvy sports public relations professionals. To get their clients’ message across to sports fans and the media, sports PR agencies these days must explore the use of new technologies. These could include social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Flickr), social bookmarking, virtual communities, blogs and information sharing sites.

Online vs. Traditional PR

Online PR is the process of making sure your sport or event gets mentioned on as many other websites as possible in just the same way as offline PR ensures your sport is mentioned in as many newspapers as possible.

Online PR is one of the most cost-effective marketing communications methods for all types of sports. It allows athletes and sports organizations to communicate directly with sports enthusiasts and the general public so they can get their message across without having to rely solely on traditional publications and broadcast media.

New Ways of Communication

Widespread use of social media has made the environment in which sports PR agencies now have to operate far more transparent. Increasingly, sport PR agencies and sports organisations are responding by utilising live transmissions and social media channels, such as blogs, podcasts and video-blogging, to reach out to sports fans.

Online PR involves reaching out to bloggers and the public in a totally different way. Bloggers are not professional journalists. They are not used to dealing with press releases so it is unlikely that they will even read them, let alone cover your story. PR agencies need to build and nurture relationships to get results from social media and blogs

Finally, PR practitioners must be conscious of implementing a crisis management strategy. Social media has greatly increased the speed at which news breaks, with major events and stories being spoken about online seconds after they occur. This makes it vital to have a quick response crisis management strategy to handle negative press stories or social media comments about individuals, events or sports federations.