Tag Archives: PR

Betfair helping fans to pick a Grand National winner with Equinder

It’s always difficult to back the right horse… BETFAIR has taken inspiration from dating phenomenon Tinder, to help find the perfect ride

Online betting company, Betfair, has launched ‘Equinder’ for those in need of a helping hand in selecting the ultimate Mare or Gelding for the Grand National, there’s even a chance for the fan of the more mature partner.

In a further move to provide people with an innovative experience of betting on major sporting moments, Betfair has created a web-based mobile app that brings the positivity around online dating to the heart of the Grand National.

Rather than randomly selecting your Grand National runner or simply backing the favourite, Betfair allows users to enter details, including their favoured football team and uses a cross matching algorithm that pairs them with the most relevant horse in the big race. People then have the option to swipe right or left, accepting or rejecting their match before being given the opportunity to place a bet.

As people find ever more strange ways of selecting a horse for the famous steeple chase, Betfair has found a way to encapsulate the fun and excitement of the Grand National into an easy to use social platform that ensures every horse can find its perfect partner.

Betfair has even created a secret profile on Tinder offering free bets to those who stumble across the ‘Betfair horse’ as it journeys up to Aintree. Users that stumble across the correct profile will be sent a set of instructions to receive a free bet. This way even the loneliest soul could end up a winner.

“At Betfair, we consistently endeavour to create innovative and thrilling betting experiences for our customers, as well as attracting new users, and what better way to help people select their horse for the Grand National than creating a new Tinder style web app. We’ve seen how easy it is for people to find a stallion or a filly online, so we wanted to bring the same sense of fun and ease to the National.” – Harry Phillips, Consumer PR Manager




Surrey CCC tops the Social Media Cricket Championship

Analysis released recently from programmatic advertising experts, RadiumOne, has revealed Surrey County Cricket Club is the top performing county in the LV County Cricket Championship – on social media, at least.

Despite relegation to the second division last season Surrey, home to Graeme Smith and Kevin Pietersen, has maintained a consistent lead over its rivals in both divisions across all social channels.

Worcestershire and Kent are both also outperforming their on-field displays on social channels, with the two teams ranking third and fifth (respectively) in RadiumOne’s Social County Cricket Division One – in spite of their Division Two league status.

Sussex, Middlesex and Derbyshire would be caught out for a duck if their positioning was decided by social performance. Both Sussex and Middlesex appear a division below their actual rankings in RadiumOne’s analysis with Sussex having almost the fewest interactions with its fans out of any team in County Cricket – only Glamorgan ranks lower on this measure.

Meanwhile, the research has revealed that Middlesex posts very little content compared to rivals of a similar stature. Derbyshire suffers from having one of the smallest online followings of all Counties.

Elsewhere, Lancashire’s promotion winning performance on the field was emulated online with the club sneaking into RadiumOne’s Social County Cricket Division One.


“Given how last season ended it will be interesting to see how the social and physical leagues match up this year. Clearly, Surrey has put a lot of work over a number of years into developing a content strategy that has paid-off, and placed them at the top of the Social County Championship; it’s just a shame that on field performance hasn’t maintained its Division One status!

“Having an engaged social community provides a club with more than just bragging rights. With potential audiences able to connect, wherever they are, being able to talk directly to them can be a powerful asset for activating a county sponsorship deals. Identifying the types of content fans are most engaged with and the brands that they prefer from their behaviour and interactions across the web is a powerful bargaining chip in partner discussions.” – Abeed Janmohamed, Commercial Director, RadiumOne


Radium One Cricket

Glasgow 2014 launch blogger competition. #Team14

The Commonwealth Games are coming to Scotland this year, as am sure you are very be aware (if not, you will be soon).  This massive event is taking place in Glasgow and as part of their media plans their looking to bring a group of ace bloggers on board to help spread the buzz!

#Team14 is the name for a new collective of active bloggers for the duration of the Games. The topics they’re looking to cover include; Glasgow/Scotland, technology, lifestyle (fashion/entertainment), sport, culture & festival 2014, news/photography, Queen’s Baton Relay, and events.

To become part of the story, all you have to do is head to the website (link below) and fill in the application form.  Entries close on 10th April at 5pm, so get your name down now!


It’s a fantastic opportunity for new and established bloggers alike. With a good mix of people there will be an amazingly diverse amount of content that the Glasgow 2014 team will have access to.  “Influencers” have long been seen by brands and agencies to be important when it comes to creating and spreading ‘buzz’ about products and events.  Now it good to see sports events taking this same approach.

If you think you’ve got what it takes with your blogging skills, then why not give it a go.  Good luck!


Glasgow 2014


Great use of Storify by FC Barcelona to mark Messi milestone

Storify has been a round for a while now but is still underused by many.  It’s a great way of bringing Twitter conversations around an event or involving several people into one easy-to-read place.

After Barcelona’s 7-0 thumping of Osasuna in La Liga yesterday (Sunday 16th), in which Leo Messi made history became the highest scoring FC Barcelona player of all time with 371 goals. The club put together a Storify on their website that showed the players congratulating each other on Twitter to mark Leo’s landmark and also the massive win.

It’s a simple way in which to give fans extra content that they will enjoy viewing.  Other clubs have used the platform on a regular basis and it has been a key tool around Twitter chats and events for some time.  It will be interesting to see if it begins to become more regularly used or remain a sporadic platform used on a when-needed basis for a quick story or to celebrate an occasion such as this.

Do you or your team use Storify? Let us know in the comments box at the bottom of this page about how/when you use it…


CIPR Excellence Awards 2014 – Best Sporting Campaign

I’m delighted to reveal that UKSN is this year a supporter of the leading awards for the PR/Comms industry.  The CIPR Excellence Awards are the leading public relations awards, shining the spotlight on the achievements of teams, agencies and individuals across all sectors.  

Amongst the 29 award categories available is the Best Sporting Campaign, which demonstrates the best use of public relations to promote a live sporting activity, sporting event, brand or an individual involved in live sport, from conception to execution. Last year’s winner was Channel 4/Pitch PR for The London 2012 Paralympic Games on Channel 4.

Other categories of interest will be for the ‘Best Use of Digital’ and ‘Best Use of Social Media’.  Last year’s winners of the social media category were Torfaen County Borough Council.

Finalists will be invited to attend panel interviews with our judging team, before winners are chosen and announced at the annual Excellence Awards Dinner in London.  Entries are still open, so if you think you’re campaign should be up for an award then click on the link below for more information.

Find out more and enter online  


Case Study: Professional Squash Association’s Social Commentary Competition

It’s great to cover sports that don’t get as much coverage here on UKSN, and for the first time we have the opportunity to look at what Squash has been doing to engage with fans of the sport.

The PSA (Professional Squash Association) has been running its PPV internet streaming service, SquashTV, since 2010 and covers a minimum of 12 tournaments and 300 live games from around the world.  At the end of 2013 they looked at ways in to bring the fans closer to the action and launched #Voice4Squash just before Christmas.

The competition started off with a post showing entry information on their website and social media channels, asking fans to submit an audio clip to a specific piece of action and then email it into the PSA.  The prize for doing so?  The chance to to join the SquashTV online streaming team and commentate live on the action in 2014.  It’s the squash equivalent of joining John Motson up on the gantry for a Premier League game.

Almost 100 clips were received by the team, so the next step was to filter these down into a top 10.  Those lucky few were then challenged to record a second commentary, this time to a different action clip.  At this point voting wasn’t public as the PSA again whittled the numbers down to select their top 5.


Those top 5 audio clips were then dubbed over the action and the final videos were uploaded onto YouTube for the fans to listen to.  They were asked to vote for their favourite by using the hashtag #STVComms followed by the 3 letter code at the end either on Facebook or Twitter.

“We are really pleased with the levels of interest and engagement that we received from the squash community to this competition. We received clips from every continent bar Antarctica to the initial stage of the competition – which was completely above our expectations.  The competition was very exciting for us as an organisation as it allowed us an opportunity to really combine all of our social media channels in one exciting campaign while also delivering something truly unique to our fans.

“From hosting both the initial ’test action’ and the finalists’ commentary clips on SquashTV’s YouTube channel, conducting the voting stage via Facebook and Twitter and using our official website as the ’news hub’ for the competition, we saw higher engagement levels than in any previous campaign.”  –  Nathan Clarke, PR & Comms Manager, PSA

The final outcome was one winner with almost 50% of the votes.  Those votes totalled almost 800, with the majority on the PSA Facebook page (most of them using the right hashtag) and a few on Twitter.  The engagement on Facebook  could be down to amount of interaction and uploading of teaser video content of matches that have been taking place on the platform (with some very good calls to action).

The winner was English graphic designer Christian Zavanaiu, with American Robert Burns coming second and England’s Kate Mason in third.  The two runners up will also get the chance to commentate on a PSA match this year.  Zavanaiu was quoted on the PSA World Tour website as saying;

“I absolutely adore SquashTV and have been a subscriber for over six years now.  I’m a keen squash player and play at a county level – so when I saw the SquashTV competition offering an opportunity to become the Voice4Squash I couldn’t resist entering but I never thought I would win!

“It’s amazing how much I’ve learnt about my game and the game in general from watching SquashTV. The presenters are incredibly knowledgeable and the banter between PJ and Joey is priceless at times.  I cannot wait to join the Squash TV team and commentate live on Squash TV. It’s very exciting for me – I might just read the rule book once again though beforehand!”

It was a really nice engaging competition which kept fans engaged at almost every step along the way.  I’m sure those who voted will be tuning in to listen to the winner commentating for the first time.  It also gives them the hope that one day they could win such a great prize.  Anyway, here is his winning entry;

It shows the benefit of investing in a PPV channel by a sports governing body, something they have been leading at for some time.  Some sports are not going to have enough traction with TV companies to start a bidding war and make the types of money that football, rugby and cricket do.  Taking that content and owning it shows that fans are willing to pay for a great product in numbers that make it a sound investment.  Other sports could learn a lot from the PSA.


Nottingham Forest launch “Find Your Third Shirt” Treasure Hunt

You may have seen a few tweets going around today about an activation that Nottingham Forest, the promotion hunting Championship team, have been running.  Well here’s some information about it.

It all started yesterday when the club announced that they would be hiding three limited edition Reds third shirts in secret Nottingham city-centre locations and tweeting clues to help fans find them.  It’s a concept that has been used by the likes of the UFC and Tony Hawk in previous years but not really caught over here, until now.

The first set of clues were given today, starting with a YouTube video explaining what the competition was about.  Fans were to follow the team on the @Official_NFFC account.

Clues were then given throughout the day for one lucky fan to find them first, at the venue where they had given clues about, and claim the limited edition shirt for themselves.  Not only did they have to get there but also answer the question correctly when they got there.

Nottingham Forest

And within five minutes of reading the first clue Matt, who joined Twitter especially to be in with a chance of winning, arrived at the Royal Concert Hall and scooped the prize.  It’s a fun activation which is easy for the club to run, utilise the platforms they are on (Twitter, Vine and YouTube) and builds up buzz for the big launch of the new kit this Friday.

Ahead of Friday’s official launch, Forest will be hiding two further shirts on Wednesday and Thursday, so fans are advised to keep their eye on @Official_NFFC.  You can check out how the first prize giveaway unfolded in the video below.


Floyd Mayweather asks fans to chose next opponent

Floyd ‘The Money’ Mayweather is known around the world for his exuberance and total belief in himself.  Someone who is as outgoing and self-promotion as the American multiple world-champion was always going to be a hit on social media.

With over 4.5m fans on Twitter, almost the same on Facebook and accounts on Instagram and Shots.me he certainly keeps himself busy.  Now he has given fans the opportunity to tell him who he should fight next.  Should it be Britain’s golden boy Amir Khan or Marcus Maidana of Argentina?

It’s a nice touch from The Money team but it could have been better (as everything always can).  The latest tweet offers people the chance to go to his website, www.mayweatherpromotions.com, to vote.  But at the time of writing all you can see is a database error, possibly too many fans logging on and crashing the server?

This appears to have been set up late as the original tweets, messages and PR pieces only offered the fans a chance to decide without a vote facility available.  The voting only came in late last night.  So what could they have done better?

If it had been on Twitter alone, then the use of a simple hashtag for each fighter would have made it easy for his team to see who has won.  Even with a huge response rate there are tools available from the likes of Pulse Live and Mass  Relevance to visualise and count the totals.  Similar to how the BBC use Twitter now for the Match of the Day ‘Goal of the Month’ competition and votes during shows.

These companies can also scale to other platforms as Facebook opens up its data hose to a lucky few.  It could have a really interactive and engaging social media campaign for Mayweather, and boxing, fans as they vote up their favourites.  Once the site is back up and running, I imagine the British public will get right behind Khan and get him this big fight.

It’s a great idea but put together in a disorganised way.  Missing out on many more votes had the site been operational when it first went out, or more of a tease before launching.  Lets see how this one plays out…




London Wasps Promote Twitter at Twickenham Double Header

Last weekend saw the opening matches of the 2012/13 Aviva Premiership season with Wasps kicking things off at Twickenham as they took on Harlequins.  It had earlier been announced by the kit supplier Kukri that the club will be sporting their Twitter handle (@WaspsRugby) on the collar of their shirts for the full season.

We have seen a trend in recent months for teams to show Twitter handles on shirts but this tends to be for one off PR stunts rather than a commitment to build up a follower base over a period of time.  Clubs have many off-line assets that can be use to help in promoting online activities, with the kit being the visible of them.

More and more you can see posters, pitch boards and the like being used to promote Facebook and Twitter to fans on match days.  There is so much opportunity to communicate with a dedicated base that the potential is enormous.

The club also went one step further.  Their players warmed up with kits that showed off their own Twitter handles, a nice way for the club to help boost the players profile on the micro blogging platform.  Rugby at the moment, both Union and League, appear to be embracing the new mediums at an ever increasing rate.  Football is certainly being left behind by the UK’s other sports in the adoption of social media.  Can they catch up or do they even want to?

Here are pics of Tom Varndell and Tom Lindsay sporting his warm up kit prior to the 42-40 defeat to Harleqins.  A game in which Wasps lead 40-13 at one stage before the South London club came back from the brink to take the win in what was one of the most exciting games you’ll see this season.  Not bad for week 1!


9 steps to a successful influencer outreach programme

After two days of travelling, with visits to Switzerland and Scotland speaking about social media, one area has made me think more than most.  It is an area that causes great consternation to those who have yet to embrace it and is celebrated by those that do.   What I talking about is Blogger (Influencer) Outreach.

Arsenal have been highlighted in this last week as a club that is prepared to embrace bloggers though it couldn’t be described as a major programme to bring these super fans closer to the club.  What they did was, after criticism of the clubs medical/training practices due to regular player injuries.  They invited a group of fans, some of whom are bloggers into meet the Head Physio and Club Doctor whilst touring the latest facilities the club has to offer.

Arsenal is probably the most open and transparent club in the country.  Their annual meeting with board members and the manager is something to be admired.  They don’t shirk issues and Arsene Wenger has always done his best to answer even the trickiest question.

Did the approach they took work?  Well in terms of numbers it did ok with 957 social mentions, five dedicated fan blog articles, 7,600 glowing words written on the subject, 300+ Facebook Likes, 496 tweets, and an estimated 120,000 reads and almost 100% positive fan sentiment around the globe.

Though not a huge response it did the job intended in gaining positive PR from fans blogs, and then by other digital blogs like this one.  But it is a one-off PR exercise rather than an ongoing blogger outreach programme.  I sense that the fear would still be there in terms of ongoing engagement.

For many companies the issue with letting go of some control and working with people that may not write good things about you is a scary one especially in sport.  But is that not the case with mainstream media who they have to deal with daily?

One thing that everyone needs to be aware of now is the IAB rules on blogger outreach and the paying for posts to be added to a page.  This is seen as advertising and has to be fully disclosed.  For more info, there is a quick video below with Robin Grant who helped put the guidelines together (and yes, he is also my boss!).

To help those who are thinking about setting up their own outreach programme, here is a quick guide which I hope will help you get the basics and begin to get the most vocal and passionate fans involved.


1.  Set out what you want to gain from the programme

Before undergoing any PR or marketing campaign or ongoing programme you have a clear idea of what it is you want to get out of it.  Ask yourself the question “What does success look like to you?”.  This will help shape who you approach, what you do with them and how you measure its effectiveness.


2.  What’s in it for the blogger?

This is an important question you have to ask yourself.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask what you would want if a club/brand approached you and wanted to invite you to an event or asked you to post an article onto your site.  If you struggle to answer this then they will be having the same problems.  If there is no obvious benefit then chances are you wont get what you want out of it, as they wont be interested.

You want to be creating a mutually beneficial ongoing relationship at the end of the day.  Reaching out once and then going back to them again, the proverbial picking someone up and dropping them back down again, is not the best approach.  It can cause resentment and make bloggers feel they are being used only when it’s of benefit to the club. Thus there is no mutually beneficial relationship.

A first step on this may be to acknowledge that the fans blog is there.  Manchester City have taken the lead on this by linking out to all club blogs on their website.  Its a great touch that doesn’t immediately benefit the club but provides a lot of good feeling towards them from the writers of those blogs.


3.  Research the blogs

It is important to do your research.  Take a look and find the top blogs that cover either your club or your subject.  For a club you will have a fair idea of who writes about the club and how big they are.  There are tools out there to help with this search, we have our own bespoke one at We Are Social that saves lots of time, but having a look using Google Search, Alexa, Technorati, Twitter, Social Mention is a start.  Find out who is writing about you and where.

Actually have a look at the blogs and see what they write about, the style the use, the type of content they cover (is it breaking news, is it opinion, is it about equipment or concentrated on players), who is their main audience.  This will help you understand what will work for them and why.


4.  Personalise your approach

This is probably the most important area when it comes to gaining favour with influencers.  As a blogger there is nothing worse than getting a bog standard press release from a PR/Marketing Exec saying that you should be adding this to your site. They may get your name right but that is about as personalised as it gets.  To top it off 95% of the time the content is totally inappropriate for my audience and shows they have even looked at what I write about.

If you can show that you have taken some time to read their articles, have some knowledge about their audience and are offering something that is relevant/useful then you have increased your chances of starting a relationship with them by a huge amount.


5.  Be honest….always!

People will find out and see through your efforts to pull the wool over their eyes.  Be honest in your approach and dealings with them, it is very much about developing a relationship – as you would with mainstream media – to bring about a situation where they write favourable things about you and you provide them with access/content.  If you are dishonest and found out then they already have a sizeable audience to tell and they will do very quickly.  Then you have an all new PR issue to deal with.


6.  Consider bloggers time

If you are going to invite them to events on a regular basis or send them lots of content then do consider that many bloggers have full-time jobs and sometimes families to look after too.  Blogging is a way of showing their passion for a subject and is done out of love usually and not profit.  If you can take this into account when planning, understand the issues they face and take to them about them and even pay expenses for them to come to events if they have to travel far.  This will carry great favour and go a long way in creating a lasting relationship.


7.  Give great content and experiences

In sport we are lucky in that there is so much passion around the topics and plenty of content that can be used.  Every sport and club in the country will have someone who is so passionate about it that they will write and are readily known as an influencer/expert in that field.  If you can help them to continue grow through access to content that is really interesting then you will gain regular coverage.

As well as sending videos and content, having a great experience with a club/brand is still the best thing.  We speak regularly to our bloggers and know who the best football writers are.  Part of this is keeping in touch and inviting them to events when appropriate so we can meet them – you cant beat face to face time to really cement a relationship – and find out more about them.  This could be at a boot launch, visit to the headquarters, opportunities to interview employees, taken to the corporate box for a match, meeting players.  There is so much that you can do.

We invited a few club bloggers to join the big football bloggers for a Champions League match the other month.  This was the first time they had been engaged in such a way and they absolutely loved it.  This showed in their tweets during the night and their blog posts over the following days.  If a brand can do this then why not a club?


8.  Say thank you

This may sound quite an obvious one but just being nice and saying thank you for putting an article up or for coming to an event is a nice touch.  One word I keep mentioning throughout this piece is ‘relationship’.  It is about bringing them closer to you, having on-going chats with them, answering their questions and dealing with them in a really good account management way.


9.  Listen and learn

Once you have done an event or been speaking to bloggers for a little while it is always useful to put together a quick report to find out how successful it has been.  As we saw earlier with the stats from the Arsenal outreach they have the numbers to go back to those above with and show them what effect it can have.  It is good for PR and good for internal buy-in to keep records.  It is also great to speak to the bloggers; find out what they liked about the event, what you could be doing better, what kind of content they would find interesting.  If they are writing about your club, sport or brand then they are already showing they are passionate about it.  They want to write good things and be proud of those they follow.


Many are scared that all this can backfire, isn’t worth the time/effort and that it doesn’t work.  Having spoken to clubs and governing bodies recently on this subject it is one that is going to take some time, effort and persuading to become the norm.  The fear is that you open yourself up and are asked questions or written about on subjects you don’t want to talk about or have control over the message.

What having these relationships in place and having goodwill from the influencers is that they are going to be on your side.  If something breaks they may come to you first to find out if it is true or what the response is from the club.  They want to protect, not attack but if they are just fed information from rumours, other fans and media speculation plus if they are feeling distant from the club (a regular source of frustration from fans) then chances are they will be negative.

If something happens then give some exclusive access to the biggest/best influencer(s) to help get the message of what is actually going on.  These relationships can help calm the fire before it ever gets too big.  If there is no relationship they will only help fan the flames.

Remember, when it comes to influencers we are not just talking bloggers (though I have concentrated on them on here) but those who are important on Twitter, YouTube and even your Facebook Page.  You can use the same approach with them when it comes to events.  Having a ‘Tweet-Up’ or Facebook Super Fan Day can be great ways in which to engage fans.  You may even have some celebrity fans who are on Twitter or Facebook, find out who they are and engage with them.

There are so many opportunities but it is baby steps that are needed to start.  Arsenal have made that start through the open fan/blogger event at the training ground, hopefully more will follow.

I hope you have found this useful.  Fire any questions at me and I’ll do my best to answer them.