The first day of The Academy saw an incredibly engaging and thought-provoking start to the conference, held at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The conference opened its first session focused on Revenues and the application of new, innovative techniques to raising funds for sports organisations. Kristian Gotsch, Client Services Director EMEA at Two Circles, started the day off on the right foot giving a fascinating insight into the importance of using data to secure new partners. He notably reflected on the importance of a personalised approach to data as, in his words, ‘if we don’t act on personalisation, we lose loyalty.’

Serge Didenko, Founder and CEO of BLOCKS, followed up with a great introduction into crowdfunding, alluding to its unhidden potential in the sports industry, which has so many passionate supporters. The morning concluded with a presentation and workshop held by Andreas Sigl, Managing Director-Geneva, of Burson-Marsteller. Andreas discussed the important techniques for sports organisations to consider when assessing and establishing their branding.

The second half of the day turned to the issue of Promotion. Emma Twigg, former rowing World Champion and three-time Olympian, discussed the importance of using athletes as ambassadors for sport, stating how organisations must have their own specific strategy to find a successful fit between ‘your message, your audience, and your athlete.’

In order to grow, sports organisations need to activate their various audiences and demographics. However, with limited resources and so many sources of distraction for fans, it is not easy to actively and effectively engage with these audiences. Matthias Lüfkens, Managing Director of Digital at Burson- Marsteller EMEA, sought to address these aspects with a fascinating insight into the central role that social media can play in helping sports orgnisations, notably pointing out that sports organisations must prioritise engagements over rather than followership. Lüfkens then lead a very successful workshop, helping the participants to explore their abilities on social media with practical examples, even featuring a live transmission of the conference.

The day concluded with a thrilling keynote speech from Michael Payne, widely renowned as one of the most influential names in sports marketing. Payne perfectly summed up the importance of new thinking in the sports industry today, alluding to how ‘sport is undergoing a revolution’ in many different aspects at the moment, including governance, business and sponsorship. Whilst this ‘revolution’ can create challenges, Payne also alluded to how it should provide tremendous opportunity for sports organisations and key actors in the industry, concluding how ‘there has never been a better time to engage with the sports world’.

With its focus on finding new problems to old challenges, The Academy aims to inspire sports leaders to consider new means of engagement and explore the possibility of innovative ways to increase the revenues, promotion and influence of sports organisations. The conference continues today with a focus on the importance of influence and communication skills, before a concluding panel discussing the role of athletes in sports organisations, featuring, amongst others, former skier Didier Cuche and IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell.

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