Communication is at the heart of everything we do. Doing this effectively can really help the management of your club, community group or organisation. Regular and relevant communications play a vital role in engaging and retaining your participants and volunteers.

It is important to consider your current approach to communicating with your participants and volunteers, the key messages your participants and volunteers might benefit from hearing and how you can quickly plan and deliver improvements to the way you communicate.


Who do you want to communicate with?

Think about who you communicate with and plan what to say.

Undoubtedly in your organisation you will need to communicate with many people, including members, participants, parents, officials, the media, sponsors, schools, suppliers, your governing body etc. The list goes on. Be clear what messages you want to give to each and why. Consider:

Why are you communicating?

Who are you communicating with and what do they need to know?

What do you want to say and how is the best way to deliver this message?

Good communicators know that less is often more. Good communication should be efficient as well as effective.


Choosing the right method of communication

Think about the message you want to communicate before you decide on the method of communication. With so many choices available, it is important to consider which is going to be the most effective way. Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, using e-mail to send simple directions is practical. However, for a more complex task or one that involves emotion, it may be best to arrange a time to speak in person. When you determine the best way to send a message, consider the following:

  • The sensitivity and emotional content of the subject
  • How easy it is to communicate detail
  • The receiver's preferences
  • Time constraints
  • The need to ask and answer questions

Why not get started with a marketing plan, using the marketing plan template to help you.


Websites 

A website can be a really powerful way to let people know about what your club/organisation can offer.

However, with so many free digital marketing options out there, it’s worth spending some time to decide how a website fits into your marketing strategy. If you think about your website like a shop window, it is important to make people stay and explore more. You need to be prepared to keep it current, up to date and give people the information they want and need.

Think about the pros and cons before you invest your time and energy into developing a website for your club:

Pros

  • Can be accessed by anyone, anytime and anywhere
  • Ideal for promoting your club - show who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you
  • Communication centre - share good news or any important updates from your club, it can be a focal point for your social media channels (e.g. social media, such as TwitterFacebook and YouTube)

Cons

  • Targeting the right people - unlike some other forms of marketing it is difficult to make sure you reach the right people and don’t get lost amongst the mountains of online information
  • Maintenance - with your website being open 24/7 it is important to make sure it is working well, up to date and with new content so people know that it is active
  • Creativity - thinking up interesting content on a regular basis can be challenging, see our content tips below

Getting Started

There are a number of platforms which you can use to start building your own club website, that are ‘open sourced’, which put most simply means they are free of charge. It’s worth exploring the wide range that are out there, for example wordpressdrupal  or umbraco. Do keep in mind that even though they are free, it does take time and commitment to get it right.

Why not take a look at some top tips for creating your website.


E-Newsletters

Newsletters can be a great way to advertise your club/organisation/group, promote events, send competition updates and share general news. Sharing newsletters over e-mail is a cost effective way to communicate.

It is a good way to stay connected with your members especially those who perhaps do not follow social media or check in on your website often.

  • Sending newsletters by email is a cost effective option and becoming increasingly more popular than print. However, it is important to consider who you want to communicate with before you rule print out altogether
  • There are many free and easy to use websites to help you build your newsletter and tailor the style to suit you

For some clubs, electronic newsletters work really well, but not everyone needs to use them. Think about the pros and cons before you spend time setting up a newsletter.

Pros

  • Cost effective & sustainable- think of all the paper and money you are saving by not printing. You avoid having to get someone to deliver them door to door also
  • Link up- you can send people to your website or social media accounts through links on your newsletter
  • Communication- electronic newsletters are good to keep your members up to date. Once they are set up they are relatively quick to send, so you can get information to them fast

Cons

  • Some people are reluctant to share their e-mail address but building and maintaining a good database of contacts is worth the effort
  • Electronic newsletter open rates are dropping as more and more people are blocking them as unwanted emails or junk mail
  • Standing out - there is a chance your newsletter will get lost amongst the e-mails in your recipient's mailbox. If you have a really important message you want them to receive, you may need to follow up with them in another way

Getting Started

If you’ve decided an electronic newsletter is a good tool for your club/organisation/group, remember to consider a few key questions:

  • What do you want to tell people by sending out newsletters? Who do you want to receive them?
  • Have you got an up to date database of contacts?
  • Who will be responsible for creating the newsletter and writing stories? Get someone involved who has the knowledge, passion and interest, to create a successful newsletter
  • Consider how frequently you want to send out newsletters

Social Media

Social media allows conversations to happen between your club/organisation/group and the people important, whether that’s your members, volunteers, players, supporters, parents or sponsors

Before you get started you should think about what social media platform is right for your club/organisation/group. Consider;

  • How you want to use social media and what you want to achieve
  • Which social media sites are the most popular with your target audience (e.g. members / parents / players / sponsors etc.)
  • The resources you need, including who has the skills to manage your social media presence

Pros

  • Social media can add a more informal and personal touch to your marketing.
  • Social media can create a strong online community that will strengthen your club/ organisation/group in the ‘real world’.
  • Social media and social networking sites are accessible, quick, cost-effective and user-friendly once you get going.

Cons

While social media provides excellent tools for helping your club engage with members and the public, it can also present a number of risks such as:

  • Cyber bullying- through posts which are upsetting to people and often inaccurate
  • Causing offence to individuals, or other clubs and organisations
  • Exposure to inappropriate content, or nasty comments and pictures

Staying safe online and especially on social media, has never been a bigger concern for individuals and organisations alike – including local sports clubs.

If you’ve decided social media is a good tool for your club/organisation/group to use then developing a Social Media Policy and nominating a Social Media Officer are great first steps to being safe on social media. You can get started by taking a look at the social media safety checklist and by developing a social media policy.


Inclusive Marketing and Communications

Inclusive and accessible planning and delivery can help everyone reach more people, including disabled people. There are approximately 14 million people with impairments and long-term health conditions in the UK. This equates to one in five of our population. As with any other large group, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to how or what is communicated with disabled people. The way in which some disabled people access communications may be different to non-disabled people. Some people need an alternative way or experience ‘barriers’ to accessing information.

Activity Alliance have lots of resources to support you in making your marketing and communications more inclusive and accessible. Why not take a look at their inclusive communications guideinclusive communications YouTube playlist and inclusive communications factsheets

Resources

There are lots of additional resources to support you with marketing and communications. You can access some of these here:

Training

See below training opportunities to help support you with marketing and communications: