Sporting Organisations and Digital Communication

Edwina Luck and Elizabeth Buchanan (August, 2008) have published a paper entitled Sporting Organisations: Do they need to Communicate with Members?

In their abstract to the paper they observe that:

We surveyed Australian sporting organisations aiming to examine their communication strategies. Not surprisingly, our findings suggest that many organisations think of communication as an after-thought. We argue that sporting organisations are not making the most the latest communication methods, nor progressing with member’s communication desires or what members are actually seeking. Members want electronic, two-way and fast communication tools including electronic newsletter and bulletin boards. This research opens up debate on how community-based media may value-add to the organisational communication mix, and how digital broadcasting can be developed by the community broadcasting sector to enhance the communications capabilities for the not for profit sector.

The paper reports the findings of two surveys: one of sporting organisations (90 organisations) and one of members of a sporting organisation (Equestrian Queensland, 324 respondents).

Findings from the survey of organisations included:

  • in the majority of cases no specific person was appointed to look after communication. Local clubs were more likely to have someone looking after communication (38.5 percent), compared to national (24.0 percent) and state level (33.3 percent).
  • 48.9 percent of respondents felt that advancements in communication technologies would make it less time consuming to communicate with members. In addition, 71 percent thought it would make things more efficient to communicate with members. Furthermore, 63.8 percent of respondents used electronic
    newsletters to send to members, although the majority of Club level organisations did not use electronic newsletters (53.8%).
  • Sporting organisations stated that updating websites is important, however at a Club level, only 66.7% update their websites every now and then. Daily updates are undertaken by 40% of National and 14.3% of State organisations; with 40% and 54.7% updating every couple of days to weekly respectively.
  • Communications methods used by the organisations in the survey:

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In the survey of Equestrian Queensland (EQ) members:

  • 49 percent of member respondents felt that advancements in communication technologies would make it less time consuming to communicate with EQ and 51 percent thought it would make things more efficient to communicate with EQ. Furthermore, 91.3 percent of respondents wanted electronic newsletters to be sent to them.
  • the most popular communication method was Email.

One of the authors’ key conclusions is:

Use of technology has trebled within the past five years, and within the ever–changing  marketplace, sporting organisations cannot afford to lag behind. Embedded with electronic channel usage is the potential to reshape internal communication. In order to accommodate changing environmental conditions relating to the technological environment, sporting organisations must lead the way with communication.

Sporting organisations will need a great deal of support as they explore digital media. Gene Schembri’s wiki is a great example of the support that can be offered. This canoe slalom wiki is an example of the potential of harnessing the wisdom of crowds in an organisation.

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