Part 1 – From canoe slalom column inches to blog followers

This is the first in a series of posts describing the journey from print to digital supported by print in the world of canoe slalom.

The Deep Creek official programme first page spread of feature
The Deep Creek official programme first page spread of feature

I have been writing about international canoe slalom since 1989. In those early days I wrote on an electric typewriter, copy and pasted (with scissors and paper glue) to make up a one page press release and then went off in pursuit of a hotel who would agree to a fee to fax the page to the national newspapers. I remember chasing down results with Jennifer Munroe on the bank of the river Dee for the ICF Llangollen class C international race. We have come a long way. In 1991 this was an especially popular international race prior to the Nottingham ’92 World Cup and Barcelona Olympics. That summer Gareth Marriott had won the pre-Olympics.

Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre
Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre

Some eighteen years later I agreed to write a daily blog for the for the London Olympics. It proved a bigger undertaking than I could have imagined, particularly given that I was also working full time in the four weeks prior to the Olympic canoe slalom race at Lee Valley. On the race days the daily blog then became two posts, then three and then four. Exhausting. An incredible insight was that this linked content pushed me top of the Google ranking for searches on canoe slalom during the Olympics.

I have always been an early adopter on social media tools and now make a living do so. Out of shear natural curiosity, powered by ADD, I wanted to really understand how they could work for sport, the not-for-profit sector and business.  The daily blog for the London Olympics proved to me that it really is about content. I was honoured to receive permission to include photographs from many of the best photographers in the business, including World Paddle Awards co-nominee Antony Edmonds.  Fortunately, I was also sufficiently connected to obtain quotes from the legends in the sport of canoe slalom.

As a follow-up I produced an article published in the 2013 Planet Canoe print edition on the use of social media in the Olympics; @London2012 The impact of Social Media in 2012. Here is a link to the original article from which it was based. I now understand even better how blogging can drive SEO ranking and how with tools such as HubSpot we can help to integrate digital with followers and access to additional content.

The blogging has continued and evolved. I have posted 40+ articles since the London Olympics primarily through the fabulous platform. I think Rob van Bommel deserves enormous credit for a self-less passion to elevate Paddlesports. I have come up with something of a formula for these articles, including a standardized format for the race analytics. This has been made possible by using extensive spreadsheets collating all the race results for each paddler, class and race. These articles have included a preview of the year and end of season review as well as individual preview and review of each World Cup and World Championship races over the last two seasons. These have again been supported by stunning photography and insights from paddlers.

Going back to the start of today’s post it was a dream standing above Town Falls that one day we may be able to propel canoe slalom to a level to attract main stream TV coverage and sponsorship. Now, however, we have control of the distribution channel and can avoid the disappointment of toiling for hours to find the print media decided only to list the results and not the story behind them.

World Paddle Awards

I am honoured to be nominated and shortlisted as Media Ambassador 2014 for the very first World Paddle Awards. You can read more about the 47 shortlisted nominees across 7 categories. You can read more about me and vote here.

Part 2 in this series of articles next week will look specifically at micro-blogging. Follow me @gregiej 

2 thoughts on “Part 1 – From canoe slalom column inches to blog followers

  1. Pingback: Part 2 – Move to real time micro-blogging canoe slalom | Canoe Slalom blog

  2. Pingback: Part 4 – My personal top 3 pick of the mix canoe slalom | Canoe Slalom blog

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