Engage at all costs: Driving PR & digital forward for Welsh Rugby

In a new series of posts aiming to shine a light on the day-to-day of PR professionals across a range of sectors and interests, Influence exclusively hears from Luke Broadley, National Team Communications Manager at the Welsh Rugby Union Group / Grwp Undeb Rygbi Cymru, ahead of Saturday’s big RBS 6 Nations match-up between England and Wales.

Weeks such as these highlight the challenges, rewards, excitement and unpredictability of the job.

We are currently entrenched the middle of the RBS 6 Nations and are preparing for a potential title shoot out between England v Wales at Twickenham this weekend.

The stakes are high and the interest at a peak but that is what makes the job so exciting.

As media manager for the WRU National Squad I have a fine balancing act between proactive PR and media management of the squad.

As a squad our year is usually split into three campaigns – RBS 6 Nations (Annual tournament across February and March), Summer Tour (month long tour to southern hemisphere in June) and an Autumn Series (four match series in Cardiff in November).

Scheduling is vital ahead of what are very intense campaign windows. A lot of planning is done around media access to the squad, for example we more than thirty organised press sessions across the eight-week window of the Six Nations, but with the nature of sport, the ups and downs, there is a great volume of work that can’t be planned for too.

08.03.16 - Wales Rugby Team Announcement - Jamie Roberts talks to media.
08.03.16 – Wales Rugby Team Announcement – Jamie Roberts talks to media.

Whilst in campaign, ‘in camp’ we are based at the National Centre of Excellence at the Vale Resort, which is on the outskirts of Cardiff.

A typical day begins with a review of sporting news and assessing the key talking points. Then it’s on to an informal catch up with members of the management team to discuss the coverage, news items and agendas as well as our plans and messages for the day.

This will be followed up by ensuring the relevant content plans for our digital output are actioned by the team. During every training day of campaign we hold a lunchtime media session, so final preparations are put to that, ensuring the relevant coaches and players are aware of their duties and are fully briefed to the key talking points and messages. Our key hit of the week is team announcement day where we will fulfil a top table press conference, player pod interviews and right holder sessions with up to nine players and two coaches.  During this lunchtime media window, we use it as an opportunity to gather material for the various WRU platforms.

The intensity and interest in the tournament means there is a constant demand for information from the squad so it is important for us to cater for this demand whilst ensuring our messaging is getting through. Following the press session it’s straight to the training field for the open vision access for the media.

08.03.16 - Wales Rugby Team Announcement - Warren Gatland (left) and Sam Warburton talk to media.
08.03.16 – Wales Rugby Team Announcement – Warren Gatland (left) and Sam Warburton talk to media.

It’s then time to review the output and coverage and ensure our digital channels have fulfilled the content plans and feed back into squad management the updates from the day before looking into the next day’s planning.

I have been in the role for more than three years, taking me through four yearly cycles, there has been many notable victories for the squad and successes from a communications point of view but the 2015 Rugby World Cup has to be a career highlight.

With the tournament taking place in the UK it had unparalleled media attention and public profile. This intensified the demands and challenges on the squad but was massively enjoyable at the same time.

Looking ahead to the next six to twelve months we have an extremely exciting period ahead of us. The WRU are currently working on a new digital strategy, which will see a greater focus on our platforms. We have an impressive following and output digitally but there is potential for huge growth and opportunity here. We have greater opportunity to inform, engage and interact with our fans and the public and the challenge of creating more and more quality output is very exciting. On the immediate horizon is a month long summer tour to New Zealand to face the World Champions the All Blacks. Whilst the challenges will be there for the players on the field we will also challenge ourselves by using the tour as a catalyst for the new digital approach.

  1. I second what Emily says!! Dream job supporting the best rugby union team in the world – here’s hoping the dragon is roaring tomorrow. The social media around the WRU generally and the Six Nations specifically has been amazing and it’s great ot hear how you have been managing it.

  2. Luke you have a dream job. Thanks for this insight into managing the media around the team. Can’t wait to see what the WRU come up with for the Digital Strategy, already pretty impressed with the social media channels. Fingers crossed you’re managing a media frenzy because of a win tomorrow!

Leave a Reply