It was a rollercoaster couple of weeks when we celebrated the highs and lows of competitive sport in all shapes and sizes. The Olympics are now becoming a memory but there continues to be lots of talk about how to create a legacy. Realistically, sporting organisations and clubs need to be investing in communication and public relations activity to maintain the focus on what they do long after the Olympics has ended. The longer this takes to achieve the more they will disappear back into the shadows.
My concern is that many will be slow to take the opportunities that have been presented and by the weekend we will be back in the status quo. Those sports that are popular will get some airtime while others will be relegated to specialist websites or paragraphs in the broadsheet newspapers.
One of the most important ingredients to maintain interest in any sport is for the Olympics medal winners to continue the conversation with the interested public. It is something that only a few manage successfully. The best way of doing this is to build on the social media presence that athletes have. The Olympics was the most social event with networks being used in a dynamic way. People wanted to know more about the athletes and what they were doing to get an understanding of the sport from behind the scenes.
Many athletes are using Twitter and Facebook but few have been able to develop this from broadcast use to creating and maintaining a conversation. If they are able to make this leap then the thousands of followers or friends they have gained are more likely to remain. And when we are not in the heat of competition there has to be a reason that people continue to follow athletes.
So what are the top five things that the lesser known sports need to do post-Olympics:
1. Have a clear plan and know what you want to achieve. This may be just to maintain the interest or the aim could be to be able to turn interest into participation. Whatever it is, the key is going to be knowing what you want to do and then have a plan of how to do that in the coming months.
2. Use your advocates. These may be athletes that have been successful as there can be nothing more eye-catching than having a gold medal, or they may be those that have been previous competitors in the sport over the years. Whoever they are they can become the personalities who help to explain the sport.
3. Be able to go local. Many sporting bodies operate in a very centralised way when it comes to communication. If they are going to be able to maximise on the interest they need to be able to tap into the grassroots competitors who can bring things to life within communities. They are the people who show that elite sport can have a place within communities.
4. Develop the conversation. This isn’t just about getting significant media coverage but more about using media and social media to continue the conversation with people who may have become interested in the sport.
5. Be proactive. Now is the time to take action and those that get left behind will miss the opportunity. Every day that passes takes us further away from the Olympics which is going to become a distant memory. As that happens then people will drift back into their routine and will forget about why sports may have been of interest.
We have witnessed some amazing moments in the recent weeks and have been able to see many sports that may have failed to attract interest previously. It could all just something confined to the history books. However, if there is a willingness to invest some time and possibly a little bit of money then in three or six months time we may still be talking about Taekwondo or dressage.