Tennis isn't the only sport we work in but it certainly keeps us busy. Few sports are as genuinely global, boast as many recognisable personalities, are played as consistently throughout the year or have as many major competitions in the course of a season.
The four Grand Slams and team formats like Davis Cup and Fed Cup create peaks in interest around the ongoing ITF Pro-Circuit, the WTA and the ATP Tours, while wheelchair tennis and the ITF Junior circuit take the sport to different interest groups and across a wide age-range. To add to all this excitement are stand-alone events like the Boodles, which is held every June as a taster tournament for Wimbledon and for which The Emilia Group provides media and social media management.
We also manage media and sponsorship for Britain's No.1 tennis player Elena Baltacha, who has a busy year ahead not just with a full schedule of international events but with a likely spot representing tennis at the Olympic Games. Elena is very active in social media and enjoys interacting and engaging with tennis fans via Twitter and Facebook, something that we help her manage with strategic advice and hands-on help.
Facebook and Twitter both enjoy a natural synergy with tennis because a global sport needs a global platform. Tennis has strong visuals, which is great for Facebook as well as You Tube, recognisable stars and manages to combine hard-core athletic prowess with grace and elegance - plus it helps that tournaments are generally played in glamorous locations.
Twitter, meanwhile, is a wonderful platform for athletes to showcase their personalities and engage with fans in a way which feels intimate for fans but safe and controllable for the sportsperson. Tennis players in the past were often criticised for being robotic and characterless but nobody who has read Caroline Wozniacki teasing boyfriend Rory McIlroy via Twitter or seen Novak Djokovic tweeting pictures of his dog Pierre could legitimately agree. Tennis fans feel closer their heroes than ever before thanks to Twitter, which has a positive commercial impact for sponsors who choose to activate player product endorsements through social media.
It's not just players and sponsors who can benefit but all sorts of tennis brands. Our client the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body for the world game, understands the synergy between tennis and social media and has brought us in to support its communications team when it comes to delivering effective engagement through Twitter and Facebook. We manage the social media platforums for international team competitions Davis Cup and Fed Cup (as well as ITF Pro Circuit and the ITF Juniors Facebook pages) and recently completed back-to-back weekends making sure that each tie, play-off and player was talked about and promoted via social media platforms.
Social media may be far more economical to resource than other PR or promotional activities but it asks you to pay for it in time, by demanding constant attention and consistent updating and reaction - hence the need in this case to bring in specialist help. In a competition like Davis Cup, which has 64 countries competing and 24 zonal ties happening in one weekend, keeping up with the flow of information and news can be quite a challenge.
It means long hours, working in shifts and managing your time with care but most importantly, staying true to your strategy for promoting the brand through social media. It's easy to lose sight of that - in the race to be reactive, we had to stay focused on being pro-active as well. It was worth the effort, for both competitions enjoyed healthy growth through social media and we expect that trend to continue, with huge potential for growth. After all, we have seen enough to say with some certainty that tennis and social media really are the perfect match.