Sport Public Relations & Communication

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This book provides a concise guide to how public relations and communications strategies and principles can be applied to sport management and marketing issues and problems. Sports Marketing is a rapidly developing sector with universities offering sports marketing and increasing numbers of specialised Sports Public Relations and Sport Communication degrees. Public relations and communication strategies is one area where sport marketing is underdeveloped, generic marketing literature misses the nuances and special features of sport as they are not given sufficient focus. This book fills a significant gap in the public relations and communications literature by customising a discussion that is directly relevant to the sport management student. Case studies will be used throughout to provide practical applications of public relations and communications approaches within the sport management/marketing context providing a link between theory and practice. They will present public relation and communications strategies and principles that have been used in variety of sport management/marketing settings. Moreover, each case study provides the reader with research probes at the end of each case study. The research probes for each case study allow the reader to reflect on the principles applied, strategies used and their applicability to the sport setting. Examples used will draw from North American, United Kingdom, European and Australian/NZ to give the text global appeal and applicability. Review and Research Questions provide the reader with focusing questions related to the principles and frameworks presented, as well as prompting the reader to formulate and articulate defensible arguments in relation to their own public relations and communications strategies. Making strong links between theory and practice is an overarching goal of the approach advocated in this book. In short, this book fills the current market need by discussi

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781856176156
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/24/2010
  • Series: Sports Marketing Series
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at Leeds Business School, Leeds Metropolitan University. She is an Editorial Board member of Public Relations Review and the International Journal of Sport Communication.

Associate Professor in Sport Management at Griffith University. He publishes in leading sport management journals and is a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Sport Communication.

Lecturer in Sport Management at the University of Ulster. He is Deputy Editor for the International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship and on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing.

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Table of Contents

Author Profiles vii

Chapter 1 Bringing public relations and communication studies to sport Maria Hopwood Paul Kitchin James Skinner 1

Chapter 2 Public relations and communication in sport Maria Hopwood 13

Chapter 3 Sport relationship management David Shilbury Katherine Rowe 33

Chapter 4 Sport marketing public relations Maria Hopwood 55

Chapter 5 Sport social responsibility James Skinner 69

Chapter 6 Community relations and engagement Paul Kitchin Rob Lewis 87

Chapter 7 Sport volunteerism B. Christine Green Laurence Chalip 105

Chapter 8 Crisis communication and sport public relations Allan Edwards Wayne Usher 123

Chapter 9 The public relations role of fans and supporters' groups Maria Hopwood 139

Chapter 10 Cross-cultural sport public relations and communication Jacquie L 'Etang 153

Chapter 11 New communications media for sport Rob Lewis Paul Kitchin 187

Chapter 12 Public relations for players James Skinner 215

Chapter 13 International sport public relations James Skinner Kristine Toohey 233

Guideline Answers to Discussion Questions 251

Index 265

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First Chapter

Sport Public Relations and Communication

By Maria Hopwood Paul Kitchin James Skinner


Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-088611-4

Chapter One

Bringing Public Relations and Communication Studies to Sport

Maria Hopwood Leeds Metropolitan University

Paul Kitchin University of Ulster

James Skinner Griffith University

In March 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team toured Pakistan for a series of matches. On route to a match at the Gaddafi stadiumin Lahore the team and their International Cricket Council (ICC) test match umpires were attacked by terrorists. The two buses carrying each group were targeted and eight playing staff of the Sri Lankan team were injured. Sadly a driver and six local police officers were killed in the attack, as well as nine policemen were seriously injured. Later that day match referee Chris Broad, one of the umpires in the second vehicle, addressed the media to respond to the growing pressure for details of the attack. Referee Broad was scathing in his criticism of the security arrangements provided to the umpires and the visiting team. As a key stakeholder of the ICC, Broad's comments added to the pressure on the event hosts (the Pakistan Cricket Board) and also on his organisation through his action. It is remarkable that a senior employee of an organisation, who could realistically be expected to be in a state of shock, was able to address the media without his statements being approved by the ICC public relations and communication officers. His comments started a public verbal confrontation with the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket, Ejaz Butt who did little to ease the situation. The situation exposed operational procedures concerning the safety and security of players and officials. However, it also exposed a serious flaw in the public relations and communication strategies of not only the ICC, but also some of its key stakeholders—the national cricket organisations that play in its tournaments.

Formula 1 racing has always been a cavalier sport where technology and passion meet in the desire to win. Unfortunately, in the recent past the sport has suffered from some cavalier management techniques. In 2007 the McLaren team was fined $100 million for spying on the rivals, Ferrari. At the start of the 2009 season the same team was involved in an incident where race stewards were lied to about the use of less-than-legal tactics. However, an incident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was described by sport writer Simon Barnes as 'the worst single piece of cheating in the history of sport' (Barnes, 2009, online). In brief, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr was part of a conspiracy with team principal Flavio Briatore and his number two Pat Symonds to crash his car on the Singapore circuit allowing his unknowing teammate to win the race (FIA, 2009). The crash brought out the yellow (caution) flags and allowed the teammate to effectively get his pit-stop strategy correct and therefore win. The public relations (PR) dilemma of this incident does not just affect the team involved in the incident but the entire sport, its fans, sponsors and partners and the governing authority of the sport itself (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile—FIA). The sport is a network of organisations that creates one of the world's most watched sporting events. Despite the furore over the race-fixing a number of stakeholders took action to minimise the PR dilemma of the incident. First, Renault's major sponsor Dutch bank ING and partner Spanish insurer Mutua Madrilena withdrew their sponsorship immediately after FIA established wrong-doing to disassociate themselves from the team. However, this may have been premature as the corporation Renault ensured that the F1 team Renault responded immediately to the investigation by sacking Briatore and Symonds and ensuring that all staff cooperated with the government body's enquiry (Piquet had been released by the organisation in July). Also the governing body FIA released its findings to the press to ensurethe justification for its decision, ultimately to keep the team in the competition on a suspended sentence, which would allay fears of a whitewash or cover up and maintain the sport's integrity. This decision was in no small part due to the management of relationships within the sport that can be enhanced by sound public relations and communication principles. Both the sport and the Renault team are tarred by this event, however, steps have been taken to repair these reputations.

It is clear from the above examples that there is a need for further development of public relations and communication strategies, knowledge and understanding of the management of sport. As seen in the above situations, even successful international sporting organisations have a need for well-honed practices. The coordinated implementation of sport public relations through sport communication methods can minimise the negative impacts on the organisation's publics occurring.

There is no doubt that sport has transformed over the last 30 years. At the elite end of the sport continuum it has become a complex commercial enterprise, while at the 'participation' end it has become quite sophisticated in marketing its activities to local communities. As a consequence, sport marketing is now a recognised and rapidly developing sector with universities offering sport marketing degrees. However, the one area where sport marketing is underdeveloped is in public relations and communication strategies. For the most part, sport management students have been forced to go to the generic management literature to further their understanding. In many respects this has not been a bad thing, but it often means that some of the 'nuances' and special features of sport are not given sufficient focus. This book customises its discussion of public relations and communications so that it is directly relevant to the sport management student. It provides a concise guide as to how public relations and communication strategies and principles can be applied to sport management and marketing issues and problems. In short, it demonstrates how the principles of public relations and communications can be successfully applied in practice within a sport context (Stewart, 2002).

The book is structured to address the wide and varied activities in sport organisations that public relations and communications can develop in order to achieve wider business objectives. Underpinning all of these themes is an acknowledgement that sport organisations rely on a network of partners and publics that constitutes stakeholders. Each chapter is structured around a common approach consisting of learning outcomes, a presentation of the chapter's key terms, an overview of the chapter and the main body. The main body consists of a discussion of the theory of public relations and communications within non-sport business and sport business situations. Each chapter contains a case or a number of cases to highlight how various organisations and their stakeholders are utilising the Sport Public Relations and Communications (SPRC) function to achieve their objectives. Following the main body is a series of discussion questions that can allow the reader to extend their understanding and critically reflect on the chapter's main points. The reader is also directed towards suggested readings and supporting websites that assist in developing further the chapter content.


This chapter serves to provide the theoretical basis for this publication. Maria Hopwood provides an overview of PR theory and practice that is encapsulated initially as organisations doing the right things at the right time. By establishing the basis of PR activity as a crucial management activity Hopwood provides a crucial distinction as to how the public perceptions of PR have been tainted by its past associations with propaganda and its current connotation with spin. Following a series of definitions on PR that covers the academic and practitioner environments, the author presents a critique of how well-managed PR can be used to convert negative situations into positive ones. The second part of the chapter examines the background to the two key areas of the textbook. Sport Public Relations and Sport Communications is all about relationships, which is a theme that runs throughout the book. However, Hopwood here defines it as a separate form of sport communication as the former is the activities by which relationships are managed and the latter is the modes of media that are chosen. This distinction is highlighted through a case study on the England and Wales Cricket Board's development of Twenty20 cricket in 2003 and its subsequent success.


David Shilbury and Katherine Rowe address the importance of managing the relationship with the sport organisation's stakeholders and publics. Their chapter begins with an overview of why a strategic approach to relationship management is essential. They stress that difficulties arise when organisations view their publics as static and assume that they will respond predictably to certain events and situations. Sport organisations should manage their publics through a strategic approach to relationship management that can minimise these eventualities. The chapter then focuses on Ledingham's (2003) work on organisation-public relationships and the importance of management consideration of strategic publics. The work required by organisations to develop relationships with these strategic publics may be time- and resource-consuming; however, these efforts can offer the sport organisations benefits over the long term. The case study highlights such a situation where the Canterbury Bulldogs RLF Club used SPRC to sustain its relationship with its key strategic publics; its fans. The case addresses how this was done through a five-step process that saw the club increase its attendances in light of its situation. The chapter concludes with an overview of the importance of relationship management in the context of sport outlining some of the key authors in the area and providing a platform for further study and investigation.


Chapter 4 serves to introduce the concept of sport marketing public relations (SMPR) and its place within the management and marketing of sporting organisations. Hopwood serves up the SMPR Rugby Ball model which represents the environment and context for the collection of marketing communication-related activities and presents where SMPR is positioned within the organisation. This is highlighted in the case of Durham County Cricket Club which forms one of two chapter cases. Following this is the application of Harris' (1993) key areas where traditional marketing public relations (MPR) (sans Sport) is applied to the sport industry. Hopwood then concludes with an examination of one of the key issues within this text. That of how does sport public relations and communications differ from the practices of sport marketing.


Despite the increasing commercialisation and professionalisation of sporting practices organisations need to consider their impact on their wider international, national and local communities. James Skinner discusses the importance of adhering to principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for organisations in wishing to examine their community impact. The author extends Carroll's (1979) model of CSR to the sporting industry to provide an overview of sport social responsibility and the resultant SPRC benefits that arise from such an approach. Through a discussion of economic, legal, ethical and discretionary responsibilities, Skinner addresses how sporting organisations across the globe are positioning their work for CSR goals. This is highlighted in two cases, the first on the National Football League (NFL) and their use of the Super Bowl to produce public relations benefits for the game as a whole and the second case demonstrates how English football has repositioned itself through its national governing association, the Football Association (FA), to engage with CSR activities.


Throughout the local, national and international there are many examples of how sport organisations do good work in local and international communities. Paul Kitchin and Rob Lewis address the importance of using SPRC to highlight these community relations and engagement situations. The development of community programmes of sport organisations or the sport-related community programmes of non-sport organisations has led to increasing media clutter for good news stories. Many organisations are yet to use this work to reach its potential benefits through the strategic application of SPRC in order to break this clutter. The first case focuses on the challenges that exist for a small not-for-profit sport organisation implementing SPRC on minimal resources. The case highlights how an organisation of this size works with partners and agencies to provide sport activities that compliment the work of partners and hence provide SPRC opportunities throughout these partnerships. Capitalising on community involvement organisations can look to develop cause-related marketing (cause-RM) initiatives that use sport and physical activities to achieve a number of organisational goals. Many of these initiatives have been developed due to the rise of socially conscious consumers (Webster, 1975), more recently known as the ethical consumers. The second case study in this chapter focuses on two such programmes. Both programmes aimed to get young people active to increase long-term participation, however, the specifications of the programme highlighted how the SPRC benefits can vary. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the management implications for cause-RM and other community programme partnerships.


B. Christine Green and Lawrence Chalip examine how the SPRC function can be used to assist in the recruitment and retention of volunteers and how these volunteers can be used to achieve a range of benefits for the sport organisation. The authors' focus on how volunteer involvement can be beneficial not only for making volunteers feel more valued but also for heightening organisational profile and reputation. Additionally, by providing the local community with speakers to present a range of issues important to the sport organisation links can be developed with the local stakeholders. The first case focuses on how Special Olympics International uses it volunteers to fulfil key SPRC roles and increases awareness and understanding of the movement in the community. The second case focuses on the Purple Armband Games (also used in Chapter 11), which was established by supporter groups to highlight the plight of those caught up in violent and abusive situations. This volunteer programme was used by sport organisation to further develop links with stakeholders and create a proactive stance on these serious issues. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the benefits of using volunteers within the SPRC function itself. Although challenging, this can assist the organisation in achieving its objectives without requiring significant financial resources.


The importance of the SPRC function is instrumental when the sport organisation suffers a crisis situation. Allan Edwards and Wayne Usher focus on the need for crisis management practices. This is developed through considering the naturalist and positivist perspectives of crisis management. This chapter develops into a discussion of crisis communication strategies in light of the case of the Brisbane Broncos RLFC. Edwards and Usher then draw attention to approaches used by sporting organisations in a number of contexts and focus on the Gonzalez-Herrero and Pratt (1996) model of crisis communications. Finally the chapter focuses on the professional sport leagues in the USA and the inability of two of their leagues to implement more proactive public relations in light of the incidents. Recommendations for practice are presented.


Excerpted from Sport Public Relations and Communication by Maria Hopwood Paul Kitchin James Skinner Copyright © 2010 by Elsevier Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Butterworth-Heinemann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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