Making judo stand out in a crowded media landscape

Photo Credit: Adam Jones-Lloyd

Adam Manning

Senior Account Manager - Advent

The arrival of an Olympic and Paralympic Games signifies a golden chance for up to 40 different sports to reach new audiences – and hopefully create long-lasting legacies.

One sport in the UK already has a head start, thanks to the launch of a ground-breaking community project that has been supported by PLMR Advent.

Finding Your Feet is a programme that was recently launched by British Judo in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University, which will see qualified judo coaches teaching older adults exercises to improve balance, strength and safe falling techniques based on the principles of judo.

Many sports, understandably, tend to focus on honing the next generation of athletes and supporters, but when we sat down with British Judo to understand their ongoing work and map out how we were going to help the sport stand out in a crowded market – our news antennae kicked into gear when we were made aware of the work they were embarking on with older adults.

The next challenge we had to overcome was identifying a clear news hook to make this relevant to media outlets now – or in other words – being able to position Finding Your Feet as providing a solution to a clear problem further strengthened its media appeal.

The fact that there were 210,000 fall-related hospital admissions for over-65s a year, according to an Age UK report, along with millions of pounds’ worth of costs to the NHS linked to falls, meant that we had a strong hook.

We were also able to quickly identify that this was a UK-first, along with having access to experts and some of the first adults to receive the programme – all of the ingredients we knew we needed to generate widespread media coverage.

After drafting a press release and setting up an opportunity whereby broadcast media could visit a session, the outreach at the time of writing this blog has generated more than 60 pieces of national, regional and local media coverage – with the headline pieces in MailOnline, the BBC News website, as well as broadcast pieces with ITV Anglia, TalkSport and local BBC radio to name a few.

The coverage in MailOnline and BBC were top targets, as we knew they aligned with the demographics that British Judo were trying to reach with this programme.

The project itself involved vast collaboration between British Judo, University of Hertfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University – and the PR was no different – as there was the added challenge of striving to ensure each organisation had fair inclusion in media coverage.

We were able to successfully navigate this by not only ensuring each party had presence in the press release, but also by briefing interviewees with a set of key messages – one of which was around collaboration between the three organisations.

The programme has set some firm PR foundations for us to build on for British Judo as the countdown to Paris 2024 continues.

Not only will we be mapping out a regional PR plan to help launch Finding You Feet in communities across the UK over the coming weeks – but we will also be managing community appearances from judoka before they set off to compete on the world’s biggest stage.

The real success story for sport though is the impact that it has on the communities that it represents – and British Judo’s Finding Your Feet programme is a best-in-class example that if you marry together an interesting community project with the right PR expertise, it is possible to stand out from the crowd.

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