Digital bootcamp

How to write effective and engaging communications

Your club is hardworking, dedicated and passionate about getting results out on the field. You know that, but does the rest of your club, the local community and potential new members?

Aside from your endeavours out on the pitch, there is one way to let people know of your club's commitment to community sport – communication. Communicating on behalf of the club is something you probably do every single day, and it's constantly shaping the way your club is looked upon from the outside.

It's worth taking the time to consider every club communication you send, and this week we'll run through what you need to think about.

Consider your club as a business

Throughout your bootcamp experience, we've always promoted your club as a business, and that is how you should always consider it. Thinking of a grassroots club as a business, your members and potential new members as customers may seem a little formal and take some of the magic out of community sport - but just like any business you need customers.

Plus, thinking of it this way helps you to strip it down to the basics of “Our club is a business, our members are our customers, and this is how we going to communicate our product to them.”

Think outcome and audience

Your first thought when it comes to club communication is what is the desired outcome? Writing a match report and sending letters out to the parents of your under 15s are looking to communicate two very different things, and need differing expectations as a result.

Consider what you want to get out of the communication (be it just engagement from members or signing up new ones) and tailor your message accordingly.

Next, think about audience. Get into the mind of the receiver and adjust your tone depending on that type of person. Remember, communication is about “selling” your club (be it to existing or potential members).

Putting your club in a positive light to different profiles of people requires different angles. Parent want to know you're a safe, reliable club that can provide enjoyment to their children; whereas kids just want fun and friendship.

Further to considering your audience, choose your platform wisely. As we covered in detail last week, younger audiences have ditched the quill and carrier pigeon and use social networking sites and instant messaging apps on their smartphones to communicate with one another.

On the other side of the coin, parents and older members may be more inclined to receive an email, text message or even an old fashioned phone call.

Whatever avenue and tone you go for, remember to take the time to review how it went. If a particular method went well, stick with it and don't be afraid to try something new.

Tips for writing good comms

To help you along a little, here's some general tips to writing communications that will engage those who are reading them, and help you achieve the purpose of that communication.

Keep it simple

The internet has changed people's reading habits. Given the reams of information that's thrust in our faces every single day, readers of online content tend to skim read that information, consuming what they need and swiftly moving on.

Unfortunately for us, we now have to box clever when it comes to getting people's attention. Just because you're a part of that member's life doesn't mean their old habits won't carry over to reading you club communications.

As such, simplicity is the name of the game. Complication and over-elaborative comms are asking to not be read. Modern, online content is said to have made us “lazy”; clever phrases or extravagant terminology require us to think – and that can often be a turn-off to readers.

The important bits go first

Keep that thought of stripping down your communication into it's bare bones at the forefront of everything you say on behalf of your club. In reality, you can add these simple virtues to your writing:

Treat the opening stages of your communication as the summary of everything that needs to be said. If you keep important parts of the story to further down the piece, chances are those scanning readers aren't going to see it.

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Summarise everything you need to say in the “lead” (the journalistic term for the opening paragraph) and the expand where necessary further down.

For match report and news writers on your website, this can be carried over to the headline writing. A confusing, misleading headline can often stop readers before they've got to the beef of the story. Summarise your story in just a few words – that is the power of a good headline. The same can also be applied to social media posts.

Use visuals

As another means to cutting through the droves of stuff put in front of us on the web, imagery can prove vital.

It may seem a little childish, but humans respond to bright, shiny pictures – so whenever appropriate make sure you're using one. Certainly, when writing match reports and posting to social media, images are vital to grabbing the attention of readers and making your communications much more vibrant.

Just try to make sure it's a good quality image, that's relevant to the theme of the comms (e.g. for a match report you might use an image from that match).

More help writing great content

We've got a series of guides that help you mould everything from informative new items to the perfect match reports, all in our content guide.

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