Media release: Digital media success for sports governing body

(C) BG/Scottish Athletics

SPORTS governing body, scottishathletics, is celebrating a successful event coverage pilot project with BBC Sport Scotland Facebook live.

Years of patient work building a strong online audience has paid off with a single race video from the FPSG Scottish Senior Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow drawing more than 35,000 views inside the first 48 hours.

Laura Muir (pictured), the double European Indoor champion over 1,500m and 3,000m in 2017, delivered the fastest time in the world so far for 2018 when she stepped down to 800m to claim Scottish championship gold in a time of 1.59.69.

It was the first time ever a Scottish woman has run under the two-minute mark indoors and also saw Muir snatch the Scottish National Record back from Lynsey Sharp (2.00.30 in 2016).

Seconds before the start of the race, BBC Sport Scotland went live on their Facebook page to the Emirates Arena for single camera coverage – with the in-stadium commentary by Jim Goldie for scottishathletics.

With immediate sharing across the governing body’s Facebook page – which has 19,000 followers – and other social media link-in via Twitter, the audience grew quickly.

British Athletics, European Athletics and Athletics Weekly also came onside in the project and, as well as sharing the video link, embedded it in all reports on Muir’s latest remarkable Emirates Arena run.

A second video, with a short clip of an interview with Laura, also quickly drew 5,000 views while a third piece of footage, capturing the highlights of the whole event and including the Scottish U17 Championships, was pushed by scottishathletics and drew a further 5,000 views inside the first 24 hours of being published.

Peter Jardine, head of communications at scottishathletics, said: “We’re delighted with recent strides in terms of promoting and covering athletics in Scotland and scottishathletics events.

“Six years ago, when I moved into a governing body comms role from football-writing at the Scottish Daily Mail, I didn’t really understand or realise the difficulties in projecting Scottish sport outside of football and rugby.

“It is a hard sell to news organisations and one of our approaches has been to build our own online audience – with our Twitter following having risen from 1,000 in 2012 to 11,800 now and similarly Facebook from 1,500 in 2012 to 18,900 at the moment.

“After a few experiments ourselves with Facebook live footage of races and events – as well as some online highlights packages – we are convinced there’s an audience we can reach.

“I understand that BBC Scotland sport are being encouraged to seek new ways to supply more event footage and we were delighted when they agreed to come to the Emirates Arena last Sunday.

“The Laura Muir race video views compares very favourably indeed with video interviews with SPFL manager interviews from last weekend like Derek McInnes of Aberdeen and Neil Lennon of Hibs and hopefully that shows it was worthwhile.

“As it happened, I was somewhat nervous on the day when another Scottish athletes, GB international Zoey Clark, broke the 200m indoor record earlier in the event and I feared we had maybe chosen the wrong race for the BBC Sport Scotland Facebook live!

“But Laura very rarely disappoints in performance terms and it was a quite outstanding display of front-running. The silver medallist, Mhairi Hendry, went to No 3 on the Scottish all-time list – so, in point of fact, this was the best-calibre 800m indoor race there has ever been featuring female Scottish athletes.

“It’s great that went out to such a big audience and that the footage is there for posterity.

“The BBC Scotland reporter in attendance, Laura McGhie, also took the chance to interview a number of athletes for other stories and that adds to the value for them in being there on the day.

“And, when you look at the three video pieces in total, two on BBC Sport Scotland Facebook and one we had compiled for us ourselves (by Sergiu Timar of Youth Football Scotland hitting an aggregate of over 50,000 views in only a day or two, then I think that’s a huge statement that athletics can generate interest.”

Scottishathletics also broke in-house records on Twitter, with updates on the FPSG Seniors and U17, throughout Sunday thanks to coverage by their digital media officer, Sue Gyford, and follow-up conversation on Monday with the videos and photographs by Bobby Gavin of www.thatonemoment.

“I’m seeing impressions figures of 140k for Sunday and 65k for Monday which are very exciting for us – and will take us to the one million tally for the month of January,” added Peter.

“I’d imagine the World Indoors and Gold Coast 2018 will create huge spikes of interest, too.”

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Contact: Peter Jardine