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How to score big with sport PR

What could seem, on the face of it, to be a relatively straightforward task- selling idols, merchandise and kit to disciples- is far from easy in reality. From tennis to football, despite the fact loyal followers are in abundance, competition is remarkably fierce for editorial and public exposure away from the dedicated discipline, team or player websites and blogs.
And really that’s only half the job, or thereabouts. The idea of PR is not really preaching to the converted, but rather engaging with larger and larger audiences to boost client profiles and (in the long run) sales. Here at Smoking Gun we’ve garnered a strong track record for ourselves in the field of sports PR, and worked on a number of athletic public relations campaigns for some major brands, achieving great results in the process, amongst both niche and mainstream target markets.
Needless to say, articles like this piece, which appeared in the Daily Mail on Tuesday, prove the potential if you focus on both ‘fans’, for want of a better word, and newcomers. It didn’t come easily, either, what with our client Mountain Hardwear’s brand name appearing in the bullet pointed standfirst of a national newspaper story. But far be it from us to simply gloat about how much work was involved.
Instead the point here is that establishing good working relationships with significant journalists and media outlets should be the priority for anyone involved in PR and marketing- and not just the sporty types. It’s a mantra that has been repeated on these pages innumerable times, but the re-iteration here will at least save you trawling through years of archived posts. Moving on then, let’s look at the nature of the article, beginning with the headline itself.
Cool Runnings: The fabric that uses athlete’s SWEAT to activate built in cooling system and boost performance. Clearly, given half the country has been turning up at the office in shorts for about a month, the new technology Mountain Hardwear has developed couldn’t have arrived in Britain at a better time.
Hence our decision to hold off for the real warm weather to begin before approaching mainstream press, after doing an excellent job selling the product into the core health and fitness titles. Once reports came in about a potential heat-wave we were sure the story had strong news potential for a wide audience, especially as the range of clothing made with fabric using Cool.Q ZERO technology begins at just £20, meaning it’s very accessible for most. As such, quickly moving to employ a news agency for a Salford Quays photo shoot was the next logical step, highlighting how important it is to strike at the right moment, and approach the right audience.
Outside our own office Paddy Power are masters of the timely PR push, again and again jumping on some revelation or opportunity in order to get that all important attention. For example when they paid skywriters to relay European golf fans’ Twitter heckles, aimed at their American counterparts, during the Ryder Cup last year. A response to calls from the U.S. team’s captain for his countrymen in the crowd to show their support by giving the opposition hell, as it were.
And then, of course, there were those branded boxer shorts, (infamously) unveiled by Nicolas Bendtner during Euro 2012, causing controversy in the process due to the blatant disregard for advertising laws the stunt exhibited. Nevertheless, the ‘lucky pants’ became iconic after being exposed on a truly global stage, as the hugely popular public campaign encouraging people to post images of themselves posing in the underwear proved.
Undoubtedly the list of examples to show how choosing the right moment is key to sporting success with the media could go on much further than the UK’s biggest bookie, and our own mini-case studies. Alas, though, the point has probably been made now, so we’ll leave it there. Just so long as you remember this advice next time there’s any temptation to rush out with a press release, because sometimes it can be best to bide your time a little in order to make the necessary impact.

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