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I set out to write a piece on the Rugby World Cup 2015 ticketing but actually discovered the positive PR that is channelled through rugby and the close stakeholder relationships within it. When I wrote my PR Masters Dissertation this year I focused on ‘Global Sporting Events: Managing PR strategies in complex stakeholder environments’. I examined the top global sporting events in 2014 – the Tour De France, the FIFA World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. From this I concluded that a positive reputation hinged on good compatible working relationships between the main stakeholders before, during and after the event. Without it the brand, event and nation suffered in many different ways – audiences are perceptive, dynamic and savvy. If you compare the English and French ‘bro-mance’ that was the Yorkshire Tour De France to the boycott and corruption of FIFA, the perception of each was radically different, they were viewed differently by other stakeholders and this impacted their overall effectiveness. The power of stakeholders is phenomenal, so managing the PR strategies and relationships is fundamental to the overall success of the event.
We are gearing up for another global event in the UK. The worlds finest rugby players will be going head to head on home turf. Of course I want tickets, it’s the Rugby World Cup in the UK, practically on my door step! It’s a no brainer.
However, like many, I didn’t get tickets in the ballot. It seems to be all or nothing. But, I wanted to see what else was out there about other people’s experience and the effect it has had on audience stakeholders. Did it receive good PR? Bad PR? Or did it depend on whether you got tickets or not?
I still don’t know that yet. I got distracted. Blame YouTube. Instead I learnt that rugby as a sport has a ‘good will’ unlike any other I’ve experienced (I’m an ex-amateur rower and sports aficionado!). It is rare you hear of any hooliganism (sorry football fans!) and it has been used as a positive force to engage historical change within nations (Yes, I’m talking about Mandela, apartheid and THAT 1995 Rugby Match).
Even the Royals are on board, driving promotion of the 2015 World Cup, but also defining the town of Rugby as the ‘Proud Home of the Game’. Similar to the big three sporting events of 2014 I mentioned earlier, this event also influences the PR of nations, cities and the towns in which they take place. The positive partnerships and sponsorship contracts between stakeholders are already radiating from the snippets of advertising and PR being released. It pre-sets a tone for the event within the media and gives us a hint that this is going to be bigger and better than the ones before it. After the success of the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Yorkshire Grand Depart and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we as a nation have a rather high standard and legacy of sporting and event success to maintain and develop.
Communications between stakeholders hosting the event and their prospective audience are one of the most important to nurture and this has already started…
What happens when you take a rugby legend and the Captain of the England rubgy team? Priceless Surprises. MasterCard have got it right, they are building on the concept of national sporting pride and focusing on the sporting stars of tomorrow, youth teams. There is a bit of branding here and there, but the focus is on the relationships, using sport to influence and drive positive change. Ok, it’s a little cheesy, but it has the feel good factor and shows a great relationship between the event, the nation and the key stakeholders…
Whilst researching, I also found a partnership between the City of London Police and the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which is humorous in getting it’s point across playing on the infamous, characteristic kicking technique of Jonny Wilkinson. It warns ticket buyers to ensure they are buying from official ticket sources, which shows a clear aim to crack down on the crime but also a caring element for fans not often seen in other global sporting events (certainly not the three I looked at in 2014 anyway!). Have a look here…
This early PR strategy of collaboration is already creating an environment where positive PR is generated about the event, the nation and the stakeholders. This preparation is laying a positive foundation for the build up to the event. I can’t wait to see how PR and communications unfold in the run up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup event, it’s already an exciting start!