How can sports organisations use fan engagement techniques to enhance employer branding?
Whether they realise it or not, sports organisations are competing to market themselves as an appealing next step in the careers of the most talented candidates. As the industry jostles for the attention of fans, it is worth considering the most effective ways to attract the best recruits too.
Sport as an industry excels at marketing, branding and fan engagement, but employer branding is regarded by some as a mere afterthought.
In the digital world, an employer's reputation - good or bad – spreads quickly. Taking control of how your organisation is perceived will encourage the best potential employees to come to you first.
"Employer branding is not just important, it is critical," comments GlobalSportsJobs CEO Will Lloyd. "Alas, most organisations see the value of it, but internal priorities mean it rarely translates into action.
"Within the sports market, the need to attract quality talent has never been greater and the emergence of the digital marketplace has resulted in a level of transparency and competitiveness that has not been apparent before."
As we've seen in our recent fan engagement series, effective employer branding comes down to knowing your audience well and tailoring what you can offer to suit their needs.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) recognises this, and there are strong overlaps between their methods of engaging fans and employees.
"We have a dynamic team from all over the world, there’s a lot of employee empowerment and freedom of expression in the organisation. New ideas are always welcome to bring developments to the sport," the ITTF tell GlobalSportsJobs.
"Having a young team at our office, we are very welcoming of new ideas to engage with fans through both online and offline activation. Creativity and sharing of ideas are always encouraged. We believe this is desirable in attracting new talents to our organisation."
The ITTF's vibrant engagement team clearly revel in their creative liberty, with an array of engagement techniques across its social channels and behind-the-scenes coverage at major tournaments.
Two Circles, the data-driven sports marketing agency, also take an innovative approach to employer branding. This year, they founded the Two Circles Academy – their employee development programme – to foster knowledge and career development in their company made up of well over 100 entrepreneurial, sport-mad people who "have sport in their hearts and customers on their brains."
Though Two Circles is actively looking to attract the next generation of sports marketers to join the Two Circles Academy, it is not a typical graduate training scheme. As the company states: "Since the very beginning our company has been built on learning and development; it’s in our DNA. Everyone at Two Circles learns, grows and progresses – the cycle never stops. Everyone at Two Circles is part of the Academy - you will not, therefore, ‘complete’ or ‘graduate’ from it.”
The Client Analysts and Junior Developers recruited into the Academy are offered not just a nurturing culture, but the opportunity to work with leading sports organisations and clear progression through on-the-job training and increasing responsibility.
Nielsen Sports, providers of analytics and insights within the sports industry, also take their image as an employer seriously, clearly outlining values that potential recruits can align with.
In May, the firm held its sixth annual Nielsen Global Impact Day, on which 23,000 Nielsen associates across 89 countries came together to volunteer at more than 1,500 community projects. Its ongoing Nielsen Cares volunteer programme "empowers associates to use their skills, expertise and Nielsen’s capabilities to make a difference in our communities."
This kind of corporate social responsibility programme galvanises an organisation's reputation, and appeals to a Millennial generation who particularly value purpose in their careers and the notion of contributing to a shared goal.
Employer branding is about showcasing an ethos and culture that will connect with potential new recruits, whether it's demonstrating commitment to good causes, a nurturing and progressive environment, or creative freedom in the workplace. Whatever the message, a high quality workforce is paramount in any organisation, so attracting the best people is well worth the investment.