Sportsbeat is a creative multimedia agency which acts as an official content provider for many of the biggest names in sport. Since 2012, Sportsbeat, in partnership with SportsAid, has played a key role in telling the stories of young talented athletes through local, regional and national newspapers, leading broadcast outlets and various online platforms.
Over the years, the agency has joined forces with several of the charity’s commercial partners to help raise the profile of the next generation of British sports stars and convey their outstanding achievements to a wider audience. For the vast majority of SportsAid athletes, the interviews conducted by Sportsbeat are often the very first time they have sat down with a journalist.
Sportsbeat also delivers training to these up-and-coming prospects on how best to embrace the media and express their sporting journey, the challenges they face and their long-term ambitions. The sessions see the athletes gaining an insight into the press commitments they can expect at major competitions in the future, and how they can most effectively interact through social media.
This experience is invaluable for the athletes as it allows them a safe space in which to better understand the opportunities presented to them by the media. Sportsbeat covers the biggest events in world sport and the team regularly crosses paths with SportsAid alumni, including numerous beneficiaries of their workshop content, in the mixed zone many years on from the charity’s support.
Here, James Toney, Managing Editor of Sportsbeat, explains more about the partnership with SportsAid....
What is the history behind Sportsbeat? How has the company evolved over time?
“Sportsbeat is the UK’s leading provider of sports content, working with some of the biggest names in sport on their content and communications strategy. Every year - from our offices in London and Manchester - our team of journalists, editors, broadcast specialists, graphic designers and creatives produce and syndicate over 70,000 pieces of content. This reaches an audience of millions every week across print, broadcast, digital and social. In summer 2018, Sportsbeat became part of Beat Media Group, a family of agencies that produce not just sport but news, lifestyle and entertainment content.”
How long has Sportsbeat been working with SportsAid? How did the relationship begin?
“Sportsbeat began working with SportsAid in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics, producing and syndicating content for the Lloyds Local Heroes scheme. Since then we’ve been delighted to work with a range of partners including SSE, Nottingham Building Society and the Royal Bank of Canada. We’ve also worked directly with the communications team at SportsAid around SportsAid Week, the SportsBall and Sport England’s Backing The Best initiative. Every year we seem to be doing more, so we must be doing something right!”
What do you enjoy most about working with SportsAid and its partners?
“You are taught at journalism school that the best stories involve ordinary people doing extraordinary things - and that’s every SportsAid athlete we work with. Sometimes we are the first media outlet to ever interview them and watching their progress is incredibly satisfying. Being in the mixed zone in Rio to speak with Katie Archibald or Thomas Hamer, two graduates of the SSE NextGen programme, after winning their medals underlined just how SportsAid’s work makes a difference at the very highest level.”
What type of services do you mainly provide for SportsAid and its partners?
“Sportsbeat syndicates content across the UK media, with a large network of local and regional media taking our service. We work with SportsAid partners to provide this media with regionally relevant content, making sure their contribution to athletes is well referenced. We provide a full range of content media services, including photography, video news releases, managing social media feeds and strategy.”
What is your approach to working with the partner and delivering on its wanted outcomes? Do you have a set vision?
“Usually it’s a meeting to understand more about the partner and what they are looking to achieve from working with SportsAid. They may want to empower employee engagement, use the partnership to drive another key message around the business or it could sit as a pillar of a larger piece of sponsorship activity, as we saw in the build-up to London 2012 (Lloyds Banking Group) or Glasgow 2014 (SSE). There is no set vision, every client is different. However, we’ve always found partners have a strong ‘athletes first’ ethos, which we love.”
You do a lot of workshop delivery for SportsAid athletes which teaches them how best to tell their story. How important do you think this is for their development?
“Athletes understand the importance of training, though media training is not always their highest priority! The idea behind these sessions is to get them thinking about their media profile, something you don’t tend to prioritise in your early/mid teens. We talk them through best interview practice, discuss their use of social media. We give examples of the good, the bad and ugly. We get them having a go – it’s quite interactive. The aim of the sessions is not to make them scared of the media but hopefully make them embrace the opportunities it can bring, such as working with brands and organisations like SportsAid’s partners.”
You have an impressive track record of developing young journalists through your partnership with News Associates. How important is this area of your work and what have been your key success stories over the years?
“We are a proud partner of News Associates, the UK’s leading journalism school, which has a home in our London and Manchester offices. Their courses have been recognised as the top ranked in the UK by the National Council for the Training of Journalists for the last five years and many of our team have graduated through this pathway. Many news organisations use us to train their future journalists and apprentices and we are working with the Journalism Diversity Fund to make the newsrooms of tomorrow more inclusive.”
Lastly, you are official content providers for such a wide range of sporting organisations. Who are you partnered with and how far does your content reach?
“There’s a good chance you’ve read, watched or interacted on social media with Sportsbeat content already today. We are the official content agency for some of the biggest names in sport, including: Team GB, ParalympicsGB, Six Nations Rugby, British and Irish Lions and Pro14 Rugby. We work with national governing bodies on their communications and content, such as England and Wales Cricket Board, Badminton England, Football Association, British Cycling and British Athletics. And some of the biggest events in sport too, such as the London Marathon, RideLondon, Six Day Cycling or The Open. We supply content to every major UK newspaper group and over 500 websites. You’ll find us at the UK School Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games - and every event in between.”
Would you like to find out about how you could become a partner of SportsAid? You could create a unique partnership of your own and build a lasting relationship with the brightest prospects in British sport.