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Communicating with your people and sharing relevant, interesting information and opportunities is a great way to keep them engaged, even outside of sessions and volunteering time.
Your communications (comms) are often a key way to achieve your organisation’s marketing objectives and can help to keep your existing people engaged and attracting new ones. Communicating regularly and effectively has a number of benefits, including:
- Ensuring people feel informed on the latest developments at your organisation. This can help them feel valued and ‘part of something’.
- Helping to bring people together in difficult periods and reminding them of why they love their chosen sport and enjoy being part of your organisation.
- Supporting the needs of individuals or specific groups. Some people may feel more comfortable about attending sessions if they know more, and parents/carers might be more comfortable if they receive regular communications about safety and welfare.
- Improving the overall experience for your participants and volunteers, which can support sustainability and even improve the likelihood that people will recommend you to others.
- Creating open dialogue with your people and providing opportunities for them to communicate with you will make sure they feel valued and listened to, whilst also helping your organisation to act on the needs of your members and volunteers.
Communicating with different groups
Your comms can be aimed at different people, can take different forms and cover a range of topics, for example:
- Participants or members. It is beneficial to communicate with your participants/members regularly so they stay up to date on things like session times or formats, social or volunteering opportunities and any changes that might impact them.
- Volunteers. Keeping your volunteers updated and informed will support them to fulfil their role effectively. You may also need to share information, or enable discussion and input from your volunteers.
- Coaches. Like other volunteers, informed coaches will be better positioned to fulfil their role and support participants during activities.
- Parents, families and carers. Parents, families and carers can benefit from being kept informed directly about what’s happening at your organisation.
- Community Partners. There are different reasons you might communicate with other organisations in your community, such as to develop new working relationships, recruit new participants and volunteers, encourage attendance at events or hire out your facilities. These organisations might include sources of new people like schools or special interest groups, or ones that can help you further your reach such as your Active Partnership or local volunteering services.
- Others. You might find it useful to send regular communications to some other organisations, such as existing or prospective suppliers, funders or sponsors, to establish and protect successful relationships.
- Prospective new participants or volunteers. Some of your communications might have a specific recruitment focus. Developing a marketing strategy ahead of time can be really useful for guiding how these might sit separately to other communications. You can visit our marketing strategy page for help with this.
- Social media, including public profiles such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Your organisation’s website.
- Email newsletters.
- Posters / flyers at your venue or at other community facilities.
- Phone calls / group messaging.
- Direct contact, including email communications, text messages and phone calls.
- Closed online groups (for example on Facebook).
- Group messaging platforms e.g. WhatsApp chats.
- Meetings (face-to-face and virtual) or webinars.
- Online or face-to-face surveys.
We recommend talking to the people you want to communicate with to find out what works best for them. You might find that a combination of methods is popular. For example, sharing session or fixture arrangements through a closed Facebook group and your website but using a mix of email newsletters, WhatsApp and meetings/webinars to highlight other announcements, updates and opportunities.
Some methods lend themselves to broadcasting information to as many people as possible, such as via your website, social media or posters. Other channels, like personalised emails or meetings, are better suited to situations where you want to encourage discussion between your audience and the organisation. It is important to think about the level of input needed from people when choosing how you want to communicate with them.
You probably already share regular comms about key issues and events, like session timings, changes to membership fees or competition details. Sharing other updates can further boost interest in your organisation. This has lots of benefits, like helping people to feel valued and improving their overall experience, which could make them more likely to help spread the word about the organisation in the future.
We recommend that you take time to consult with your different audiences about the kind of content they would like to receive. For extra inspiration have a look at the list below:
- Updates on sport-specific information, such as announcements from your National Governing Body.
- Match reports (or similar) or updates from competitions or tournaments.
- Information about upcoming social events.
- Consulting people on a specific topic, such as your plans for the future.
- Relevant updates from partners or sponsors.
- Details of local sports or community events.
- Explanation of changes to any policies (this can include sharing the updated version electronically)
- Possible volunteering or volunteer training opportunities.
- Recognising or highlighting the efforts of specific individuals.
- Updates on fundraising activities.
A communications plan can be a really useful tool for helping your plan and deliver your approach to keeping people informed and engaged. It provides a way to track the progress your efforts, assign responsibilities and record relevant details like dates and times. Keeping copies of old plans provides a bank of information you can refer back to. This can help to identify anything that did or didn’t work well.
If you’d like to formalise your approach to communicating with your people, or check and challenge your existing approach, you can follow the steps below:
- Assign responsibility for creating and implementing the communications plan. If you don’t already have anyone in charge of marketing, you could complete a skills audit to work out who might be best suited to support this. It may be valuable to break this into tasks and share responsibility for creating and implementing your plan across your workforce.
- Identify the different groups you want to communicate with. Talk to them about the kind of information and content they would like to see and how they would like to receive this.
- Create your communications plan. This should include the details of what you will be sharing with different groups, when, how, and who is responsible for this. You can use our basic template to help you set this up.
- Set up any new accounts or platforms. If you want to introduce new methods of keeping in touch with people, set these up and make sure you store the passwords safely and securely. If you already have different channels, make sure relevant people have access to the login details.
- Review your approach and plans on a regular basis. This helps to identify what does and doesn’t work well. Make sure people are happy with the communications they are receiving and whether they’d like to suggest any changes. Also measure and reflect on their effectiveness.