The Olympic Games focuses the world’s attention on sport. For International Federations (IFs) and National Federations (NFs), the Games present an opportunity to grow audiences and build long-term brand value.

But take care when forming your communications strategy…

The well-protected broadcast rights of the Olympic Games, including what’s set out in Rule 40 of the IOC’s Olympic Charter, present unique communication difficulties: stakeholders (including IFs and NFs) may not share official Games video and audio content.

Nevertheless, it’s possible for IFs/NFs to untangle the web of rules and regulations and make the Olympic Games work for them. Here are 4 tried and tested strategic communications tips to help you use Tokyo 2020 to reach and engage new and existing audiences. 

Tip 1: Research

Take the time to analyse and understand your audience. Do your market analysis.

As we mentioned in our blog – THREE ways audience analysis will help sports maximise Tokyo 2020 – audience analysis shapes successful strategies, i.e. those that adapt to the ways in which different audiences discover and engage with content. 

Kick things off by researching these key questions:   

    1. Where are my highest concentrations of fans?
    2. What type of content do they most want to see?
    3. Which platforms do they use the most?

The answers will enable you to decide (iwhich athletes to use as the face of your campaigns(ii) which platforms to optimise, and (iii) which are the best tools to employ.

Don’t forget, local audiences can reveal new opportunities for growth. Market segmentation is sequential to research. Specifically, understanding the appetite for your sport among the Japanese audience – a wealthy and digitally savvy demographic – may reveal opportunities in this region you didn’t know you had. This should be standard practice before the Olympic Games arrives in Tokyo.

Tip 2: Invest

Investing in an asset management system and having an audited archive of content will give easy access to available material. 

Every sport has stories to tell. You need to know yours and invest in learning how to tell them creatively. 

There are many golden opportunities to turn spectators into fans. Here’s an example of an incredible story from previous Games: Rafaela Silva’s rise from the slums and London 2012 disqualification to becoming Brazil’s first female Judo gold medallist at her home Games.

If you’re prepared, you can capitalise on Games-time moments and tell the stories of your sport to win new fans.

Sports enjoy peaks of popularity during the Games. Some you can predict, some you can’t. 
Having original content stored and organised ready to capitalise on these moments is what will set IFs/NFs apart come Games time

Tip 3: Scale

Effective communications requires scale. Don’t be afraid to explore all networks available to you. 

Every IF/NF has a large network of stakeholders that includes clubs, athletes, fans and media. Brief them properly on why, when, and how to share your content to help maximise reach.

Understanding which broadcasters own the rights to broadcast the Games in different territories enables easy tracking of official content ready for sharing on your own platforms.

Tip 4: Learn

You’ve spent time, money, and resources taking advantage of the Olympic spotlight – but when it’s over you need to evaluate your communications performance.
Measuring the performance of your Tokyo 2020 campaign is fundamental to future progress. Proper reporting will tell you whether your initial research and decisions on whom to target and how to reach them were effective.

Don’t stop after the Olympic flame is extinguished. What happens next is vitally important. Which stories did your audience fall in love with? What did they keep on talking about? Has anyone new joined the conversation?

Real-time audience data generated from a major event such as the Olympic Games is invaluable when it comes to refreshing your next marketing and communications strategy. 

Games over, analysis begins. Work out how the data you’ve gathered can help you grow and retain your audiences. 

Prioritise inspiration, not regulation 

Don’t let restrictions during the Games deter you from giving proper thought to your communications strategy. Prioritising inspiration over regulation will strengthen your sport in the long run.  

  • Ask the right questions when researching 
  • Use quality original content to tell your stories 
  • Fully exploit all your network to maximise reach 
  • Measure your performance and begin again

To see how Redtorch’s team of experts can work with you to create a ground-breaking strategy, contact me at

Article updated: 24 January 2020. Original article posted 24 July 2019.

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