PtG Article 05.04.2013

Sports organisations must connect with their stakeholders

Public communication is paramount in the world of sport and many sports organisations could do better when communicating with their stakeholders, argues Biba Klomp from the European Journalism Centre in this video and text interview, which is a part of the AGGIS project on good governance led by Play the Game.

Video interview with Biba Klomp (click to watch)

This interview is an edited version of the original full-length video interview with Biba Klomp.

Why is public communication important for international sports organisations?

"In general, the overall aim of public communication is to create goodwill and positive feelings towards an organisation and what it does. This can be achieved either by establishing a sound corporate identity and reputation of an organisation or by getting people to think positively about the organisation and what it does.

I think the key for sports organisations is creating, establishing, maintaining, and managing some valuable and long-lasting beneficial relationships with their key publics. And you can do this by having a strategic and targeted communication strategy towards these different groups.

How well or poorly do you think sports organisations solve this task in general?

“I think sports organisations are doing rather badly in that respect. They kind of take their publics and fans for granted. They rely on the fact that people, no matter what they will be doing or how will be performing, will just keep connecting to them and keep suppaorting them. They are preaching and selling their stories without really taking into consideration what their public thinks. So it is a one-way, top-down communication model.”

Do you see any particular area where they could improve?

“There is obviously this disconnect with fans and a disconnect with some of their key publics and to overcome this disconnection they really have to focus more on communicating with them and being transparent and accountable towards their publics – being open and honest. Through that they can overcome this divide.”

If they manage to that what are the gains they can have from doing so?

“I think the relationships are the value of an organisation so they are hard to measure because they’re intangible relationships, but they are the ‘extra something’. It’s about the relationship and the quality of the relationship that the success of the organisation depends.

By overcoming this divide, and obviously there is one, it will help them to establish this relationship.”

How do you see the AGGIS project in this picture?

“The AGGIS project will highlight some of the problems that exist in good governance aspects, and one of the good governance aspects is public communication, and hopefully they will also realise that there is a problem.

It is a new time now with new media and new technologies. Public communication is part of a field where governance is connected to good governance in sports organisations, and hopefully those who read the AGGIS project will come up with more targeted communication strategies towards the different groups of stakeholders.” 

Biba Klomp is a Project Manager at the European Journalism Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Links to other AGGIS video interviews: