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Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Summer 2014

Winter 2014

In this issue: • What Leaders are using Social Media? • Introducing New Leaders • Leadership in our Sport System • Crisis Management • Building a Communications Plan • Who’s Reading What?

Version française

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


looking for governance


Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership



- Summer 2014

Welcome to the Summer edition of the Leadership SIRCuit. From effective communication to managing crises we’ve got it covered. Don’t forget to meet our new sport leaders, and then check out what other leaders in the sport community found inspiring in their latest reads.


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What Leaders are using Social Media?

Introducing New Leaders …

Crisis Management

Leadership in the Eye of the Storm

Leadership in Our Sport System Building a Communications Plan


Who’s reading what?

What Leaders are using social media?

Government and sport leaders are effectively using social media to connect with Canadians and create a social network engaged around sport.

Introducing New Leaders …

Meet Bruce Robinson, CEO of Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and Monique Giroux, Acting Director of the Sport Development Division at Sport Canada as they transition into new positions within the sport community.

Leadership in Our Sport System

An interview with Monique Giroux, Sport Canada discusses her views on effective leadership in sport delivery and the priorities of the Sport Support Division.

Crisis Management

From SIRC’s Sport Governance Webinar series, Marg McGregor outlines the four stages of crisis management and how sport organizations can effectively address these challenges.

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Building a Communications Plan

What is a communication plan? When should it be developed? Where does the information in the plan come from? How do you write one, and why should I bother? If you’ve ever asked yourselves these questions, check out the advice presented by Sylvie Bigras.


Who’s reading what?


Have you read anything interesting lately? Sport leaders are often avid readers with an appetite to learn more. Check out what’s inspiring your colleagues. Version française

Editor Debra Gassewitz


Nancy Rebel Michelle Caron Joshua Karanja Leigh Cove


David Roberts Josyane Morin


Marcel Nadeau Alexandre Contreras

Special Thanks Sport Canada: Alan Zimmerman Judy Rash Monique Giroux Rebeccah Bornemann Steve Parker Canadian Olympic Committee: Caroline Assalian Marg McGregor And all the contributors

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


What Leaders are using Social Media? Debra Gassewitz, President & CEO Michelle Caron, Information Specialist


ords are powerful. In Canada, we are in the middle of an information age where we are witnessing an increasing reliance on knowledge as a key resource. Effective communication is even more critical in a time when technology, mainly through the use of social media, allows words to travel fast and far. According to Marshall McLuhan, the “medium is the message” and today’s leaders have the opportunity to use various digital platforms to show their community they are accessible, approachable and listening to their audience. This interest in information has led individuals and organizations to seek out better ways to extend their knowledge to the broader community. In its most basic form, knowledge transfer occurs when an individual has a learning experience, assimilates that knowledge and then communicates that knowledge to another. By basing its creation on a broad spectrum of individuals, the Canadian Sport Policy actively engaged Canadians during its development by asking the sport community to share their views on what sport should look like in this country. This interaction allowed sport professionals to share their expertise with a broader audience and opened the door for change at a grassroots level. There are leaders in Canada that are setting a great example by using social media to connect with Canadians. Prime Minister Stephen Harper uses a variety of social media tools that show his support for sport. During Sochi Olympic Games, Prime Minister Harper caught the attention of Canadians and Americans when he tweeted a bet to the


President of the United States Barak Obama on who would win the US vs. Canada men’s and women’s Olympic hockey games. Prime Minister Harper has also shown his support for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic team by using Twitter to congratulate medal winners.

Twitter, to regularly post pictures or videos of various sports. Minister Gosal is not shy about retweeting and commenting on his followers tweets and initiatives.

By creating an online presence, leaders can capitalize on the transformational power of social media with: increased participation and engagement with an audience, easy access to social networks, open opportunities for crowdsourcing solutions and innovation, and improved transparency, all for the low cost of web-based interactions. Social media also provides the opportunity to share a bit more personality than a website may allow, it allows an individual to show their approachability in an informal digital environment.

For example, they may post YouTube videos to explain what they do and will use Twitter and Facebook to promote their work and engage in online conversations - all in order to help their audience communicate and share their knowledge. Modern audiences have the expectation that they will be able to comment on and contribute to content that is available online. This quickly transfers to local leaders where audiences will expect service with the same level of interactivity that they find everywhere else. SIRC recently hosted a webinar titled Canadian

Many organizations use their online social network for teaching, learning and sharing.

The Minister of State (Sport) Bal Gosal is very active in the sport community and uses social media, most noticeably on

Listen to the Podcast

Conversation with Minister Bal Gosal

Minister of State for Sport, Bal Gosal, on his auspicious beginnings on Twitter, opportunities and opportunities lost on engaging content, and the power of Facebook. - See more

Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Bal Gosal, MP @BalGosal Jun 4 Always good to speak directly with our Canadian Sporting Heroes, like @Jeep_01 @smithndr @BobTeamSpring & @ivanieB

Sport Policy Implementation and the online interactivity between the various presenters and the nationwide audience demonstrated that Canadians have a definite aptitude for using technology both to learn and to promote their programs.

they used for impact, response, recovery and communications.

The sport community is embracing social media to great success. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) saw huge gains in their media campaign Perhaps the most leading up to the valuable role of social Sochi Olympic media is using it to Winter Games. listen and engage The #wearewinwith your audience ter slogan was as the conversation mentioned over is happening. In the 500,000 times on public sector, the area Twitter, collectively of crisis management the YouTube videos The City of Calgary has created a timeline laying out the key events of the flooding that hit the city has experienced promoting the athin June 2013. They’ve included facts, photos and success in attracting letes were viewed videos to create an interactive view of the YYC Flood social media support more than 500,000 2013. Information about evacuations, reception when information is times, and their centres, river flow, damages, closures and volunteer desired on a minutewebsite drew nearly efforts are all captured. to-minute basis. 3 million visitors. When a flood hit Calgary at the end of June in While increases are to be expected in an Olympic 2013, Mayor Naheed Nenshi and his city staff year, the COC’s main goal was to create a buzz were the first responders in using social media to around the Olympic team in order to attract future quickly convey accurate information that directly advertisers and sponsors. addressed the crisis. ParticipACTION is also very active in the While the main conduit of information was digital community and earlier this year they Twitter, Calgarians were using specific hashtags launched their Sneak It In campaign that to notify others of available emergency services, focused on encouraging adults to break up other media platforms such as Blogger, sedentary time spent commuting and sitting in YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr were the office. With articles in various newspapers, also being used so residents could find the a unique Twitter hashtag #sneakitin, posts most up-to-date on Facebook information. In and their blog, the follow up and promoting to the flood, various activities the City of and contests for Calgary created added value, an interactive the campaign timeline that got Canada’s illustrates the attention. various methods Version française

Of course, building an online presence requires the ability to create compelling and engaging multimedia content. Developing a communications framework that allows an individual or organization to plan, implement, and measure their various media platforms is essential for overall success. It doesn’t matter if it is a grass roots initiative or a national sport organization, planning ahead is the best way to organize actions that will lead to the fulfillment of a goal. As a result, communication is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Great thought leaders ask the question, “What can we do to make the knowledge transfer more effective, with less stress, and with greater consistency?” They share their experiences, know their audience, and actively interact with them; they have a clear message with a consistent tone and specific delivery methods. Effective knowledge exchange provides an opportunity to include more people in ‘idea generation’ and decision-making, and proactive leaders can play a key role in the way people engage and communicate; if they take that opportunity. ∆ References Cameron, Catherine. “Lace up your sneakers and join us for Sneak It In Week April 7-11.”. ParticipACTION, 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 3 May 2014. Krashinsky, Susan. “Are we winter? Success of Canada’s Olympic campaign suggests we are.”. Smith, Sean. “Politicians Can Learn from Mayor Nenshi.”. That Social Media Guy, 2013. Web. 3 May 2014.

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014



Acting Director of the Sport Development Division. Sport Canada. Monique earned her Bachelor’s degree (1992) and her Master’s degree (1998) of Physical Education from the University of Ottawa. After working in the sport community with Athletics Canada, Cross Country Canada, and the Active Living Alliance, Monique joined Sport Canada in the late 1990’s. In her time with Sport Canada, she has worked in the Sport Support and Hosting Divisions before being appointed Acting Director of the Sport Development Division.


SIRCuit: Which sports have you been/are you involved in? MG: I’ve been quite active my whole life thanks to my dad who was a really good role model for me and my mom who was a wonderful supporter. For the past few decades, I’ve been mostly involved in triathlon which allows me to enjoy and appreciate the benefits of three different sports – swimming, cycling and running. During the winter, I love alpine skiing and manage to cross country ski and snowshoe a few times each, without of course forgetting to take advantage of our great Ottawa skating rink, the Rideau Canal.

SIRCuit: What are your personal coaching philosophies? MG: I’ve coached swimming at the university and age group level and taught alpine skiing for many years. My first swim coach experience was in grade ten. We didn’t have a coach, but we had a bunch of motivated swimmers. Because I really wanted us to have the opportunity to compete against other schools, I developed some workouts and we trained; pretty basic stuff but we competed hard, stayed fit and had a sense of belonging to our sport and our school. So, I would say that regardless of the level, it’s all about matching the approach with the learning style and the objective. There is a fine line between providing direct guidance and letting an individual take responsibility for getting to where they want to be, whether it is the top of the podium or a personal best. It’s the same for a work environment. Some people need more guidance while others, through the right kind of indirect support, will be able to achieve their objective by figuring it out themselves. That’s usually a more lasting approach, builds on what they already have and brings them to the next level.

SIRCuit: How would you describe your leadership style? MG: When I listened to Barrack Obama’s first Presidential inauguration speech, he inspired me and I wondered why. First of all, I felt he believed what he was saying. Secondly, I felt he cared about the people of his country and the role his country played on the world stage. And finally, he said he couldn’t do it alone and spoke of collaboration. My leadership style has really evolved over the years and I find the evolution very interesting. What I have noticed is those three themes I saw in Obama’s speech: be honest, care about people and help each other out, are more prevalent now than they were a decade ago. I would say that it’s all about relationships – getting to know what people are all about – their likes and dislikes and respecting differences. If you are respectful of those giving you the information, if you set aside your preconceived notions and if you admit you don’t know everything, chances are you are going to get people to where they need to go, because it’s really about them, not you. ∆


Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

new leaders BRUCE ROBINSON

CEO, Canadian Freestyle Ski Association Bruce Robinson was named Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association on March 1, 2014 after serving as the Association’s Chief Operating Officer for 9 years. Bruce currently lives in Vancouver with his family and is finishing his CPA, CMA accreditation this summer.

Transitioning as a New Chief Executive Officer in Winter Sport BRUCE ROBINSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CANADIAN FREESTYLE SKI ASSOCIATION I was recently promoted to Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA) on March 1, 2014 after serving as the CFSA’s Chief Operating Officer. I didn’t appreciate how my job would change despite having worked with the CFSA for over 9 years. As I transition into my new role, here are five key insights I feel are important as I navigate the waters as a new CEO.

Establish your Vision and Mission CFSA athletes won seven medals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the most medals won by any Canadian NSO. Expectations to continue this success are enormous, underscoring the importance of establishing a clear vision and mission under my leadership. My mission maintains a focus on winning medals, but engages every member of the CFSA to play an active role in achieving our mission.

VISION: When Canadians think of skiing, they think of freestyle skiing. MISSION: Our critical mission is to win medals at the Olympic Games, World Championship and World Cups. The CFSA will achieve its critical mission by providing quality programs and services that BUILD PEOPLE. TRAIN ATHLETES. DELIVER CHAMPIONS.

Communicate the Vision and Mission to Stakeholders Throughout March, I travelled to our national championships held in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia and talked with parents, coaches, PSO leaders and athletes. They had the opportunity to hear my vision and mission and learn first hand how I intended to grow the Association.

Engage your staff early and often My first major task was to organize a re-visioning session with my staff within the first three weeks of starting in my new role. The main purpose of this meeting was to engage in a discussion around our vision, mission and strategic objectives. It’s important that every person in the organization contributes to and understands the updated vision and mission. Your staff is critical to ensuring this message is uniformly disseminated to all stakeholders.

Engage your board of directors I am taking the initiative to meet individually with members of the Board of Directors for two reasons: to strengthen our working relationship and provide an opportunity to engage in a discussion about our Association’s new direction.

Be Bold Be confident to take actions that clearly show you are willing to build the organization in your own way, to make changes that will allow the Association to grow. The boldest step I took was approving an appearance of the CFSA and our athletes on CBC’s Dragon’s Den to generate sponsorship revenue. Transitioning in to the role of CEO is stressful for any person. Establishing the new direction for the organization and involving as many people in this discussion are keys to your eventual success. ∆

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


leadership in our sport system An interview with Monique Giroux Acting Director of the Sport Development Division, Sport Canada, Sport Canada. SIRCuit: Tell us about your background prior to becoming Acting Director, Sport Development MG: This is a really exciting job that brings together my passion for sport [see sidebar] and 15 years of experience at Sport Canada. I started as a program officer working with National Sport Organizations, then moved to hosting and worked on single and multisport events, including as a manager. I’ve had the privilege of working with many organizations, through both exciting times and trying situations. It is interesting to see that some of the people I worked with back then are also still influencing the Canadian sport system, albeit in different roles, from Own the Podium to community sport. I have seen first-hand just how dedicated and hard working the leaders in our sport system are and I am very happy to return to working directly with them and their organizations. I hope to apply the many insights that I gained from working on hosting projects to the work that we do to support Canada’s sport organizations. I work with an amazing team, and it is encouraging to see the many ways in which we are able to make a positive difference in the sport system.


SIRCuit: What are some of the insights that you see transferring from hosting to working with sport organizations? MG: Through my experiences as a sport participant and in my positions at Sport Canada, I have come to realize that great leadership is essential to achieving great results. This is true across the system, in all facets of sport delivery. Strong organizational leadership, good governance, and high quality programs are integral components of a comprehensive, effective, and sustainable system. Regardless of where you work (hosting, sport support, government or a sport organization), it is important to create a work environment that helps people grow and allows them to take supported risks.

well-designed plan. This forces organizations to focus on the details that are essential to delivery, and to therefore have governance and leadership focused on producing results. I’ve seen just how critical good governance is for successful hosting, as leadership can easily make or break a project. It is vitally important for organizers to deal with issues early on, so that they don’t grow into large problems that jeopardize the success of the event.

“I work with an amazing team, and it is encouraging to see the many ways in which we are able to make a positive difference in the sport system.”

In the hosting environment, events need to be delivered under pressure and according to a

Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Sport organizations, while operating with different timeframes given the cyclical nature of their work, are under no less pressure to deliver timely, high quality products. By having good governance practices in place, including a Monique Giroux suite of robust, up-todate and useful policies and a comprehensive strategic plan, organizations can focus on delivering top notch programs and services with the knowledge that, should a problem arise, it will be dealt with swiftly and in a transparent manner that has the best interests of the sport in mind.

I am a firm believer in the power of partnerships, especially when working in an environment such as our sport system. The system is complex, with so many different players seeking many of the same objectives, with a relatively limited pool of human and financial resources. Collaborating with likeminded organizations just makes sense when it comes to creating and delivering strong, efficient, and impactful programs and services.

SIRCuit: What are your priorities moving forward as Director of the Sport Support Division?

to provide funding through the Sport Support (SSP), Hosting, and Athlete Assistance (AAP) Programs. The work of the Sport Support Division and the funding provided though the SSP will primarily be focused on supporting programs and services that have a direct impact on athletes and athlete development, as well as those that provide children and youth with their first experience in sport.

“We believe that making strategic investments in these areas is a sustainable approach to creating an environment in which our athletes and organizations can flourish.”

MG: Our priority moving forward is to continue supporting the development of a sport system that is technically sound, ethical, free of doping, and delivered by strong sport organizations with solid governance practices. As outlined in our Sport Development Framework, we are committed to a system with quality athlete pathways based on the principles of Long Term Athlete Development and enhanced by world class coaching and leadership. We believe that making strategic investments in these areas is a sustainable approach to creating an environment in which our athletes and organizations can flourish. The Government of Canada is very proud to be the single largest investor in Canada’s amateur sport system and we will continue

Of course, the Sport Funding Accountability Framework (SFAF) will continue to be our key tool for guiding our work and delivering on the objectives of the Sport Support Program, as well as demonstrating our vision for the sport system to our funded organizations.

We are currently in the second year of the fifth SFAF cycle Monique Giroux for NSO’s and in the process of developing and implementing the next version of the SFAF for MSO’s. I’m happy to say that we are evolving with the changing environment and with the changing needs of our Canadian sport organizations. Of significance is the integration of the Canadian Sport Policy components as well as the alignment of the frameworks for all our client groups: NSOs (winter and summer), CSCs and now MSOs so that there are similar expectations across the board. We anticipate that everything will be fully aligned by April 2016.

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We will continue, through on-going consultations with our stakeholders, to improve the SFAF and our funding programs to ensure that they providing the sport system with what is needed for development, as well as meeting the Government of Canada’s priorities for sport. We will continue to work to help Canadians participate and excel in sport and, as part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, strengthen the unique contribution that sport makes to Canadian identity, culture and society. ∆

Key Resources: • Canadian Sport Policy • Sport Support Program • Athlete Assistance Program • Hosting Program • Sport Funding and Accountability Framework • Long Term Athlete Development

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


Sport Governance webinar series

hosted by

Crisis management Leadership in the Eye of the Storm

Presented by: Marg McGregor Director of National Sport Federation Services, Canadian Olympic Committee


(Summarized by Nancy Rebel, SIRC)

ccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a crisis is “a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention”. Sport is not unlike other sectors when it comes to our vulnerability to crisis. And like any other sector, crisis in sport can occur in many forms and may differ in intensity, duration and impact. Sport has identified a number of areas that we might consider our points of vulnerability such as: finances, Board governance, harassment, sexual misconduct, doping, bullying, etc. Keeping in mind that these areas are by no means unique to our sector.

“be open to clues that should trigger a proactive response to an escalating issue or impending crisis” Marg McGregor

To set the stage, we can look a little more in depth at what a crisis is. A crisis is a damaging event or incident that threatens the organization. It includes damage to people, an image, brand or facility. It is unpredictable and has potentially negative results. It can be a serious incident or issue which has either received or been threatened with adverse publicity. It has been described as a fluid, unstable, dynamic situation where things are in a constant state of flux. It can come in pairs, in clusters or in series and is never cut and dried or black and white.

In the podcast below we outline the common features of a crisis and provide some examples to contextualize these features in sport. Acknowledging that authors and researchers have variations on their models of crisis management, We will also outline the four typical stages of crisis management and elaborate on how each of these stages can be addressed.

Watch the complete webinar Marg McGregor outlines the common features of a crisis and provides us with some examples to contextualize these features in sport.

10 Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Stages of Crisis



Avoiding the crisis: the early warning stage

Preparing to manage the crisis



Containing, managing and resolving the crisis

The post-mortem: learning from the crisis

1. Avoiding the Crisis

2. Preparing to manage a crisis

To get into our sport analogies, the best defence is a good offence. The first line of defence for any crisis management scenario is to avoid the crisis in the first place. An organization that has its radar up and is being attentive to early warning signs has a better chance of heading off potential crisis situations. She open to clues that should trigger a proactive response to an escalating issue or impending crisis. One way that this can be done is to routinely monitor social media or news channels. This allows you to keep an ear to the ground, to see what people are saying about your organization and to see what issues other organizations are facing that might impact you or happen to you in the future. Another way to head off potential crises is to have a Whistle blowing policy. By providing people with a way to express concerns about what may be happening within your organization, this allows potential areas of vulnerability to surface before they escalate into a crisis.

Sport organizations are busy places. Quite often there is much to be done and little time to do it. However, it is recommended that crisis awareness be built into the operational and governance plans of an organization. Take a pause in the everyday to talk about emerging vulnerabilities and issues that are arising, before they become critical.

Risk management comes into play in this primary stage of crisis management. The first step in any risk management exercise is to identify the major areas of risk facing the sport organization. These “risk areas” can be defined as potential events or occurrences that could lead ultimately to loss or harm for the organization. The True Sport Secretariat has developed a Risk Assessment Worksheet as part of their Risk Management program, that organizations can work through in order to identify potential threats.

This can be done through the following activities: • Include crisis management detection as part of Board agendas on a periodic basis. • Incorporate crisis management activities into sport organization plans and priorities as a stated goal of the organization • Incorporate crisis management activities into the senior staff member’s job description. Developing a Crisis Management Plan is a key step in preparing to manage a crisis. The plan should talk about the organization’s principles and philosophies. It should have action plans attached as well as communications strategies. Once the plan is created the next key step is to test your plan. Do “fire drills” and table-top exercises that simulate what would happen in the event of different scenarios. These practice sessions and discussions allow the key people likely involved to gather and discuss in a stress-free environment what should be done if x, y, or z happened or how they would be managed. It reduces stress and confusion if these crises do actually occur.

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Marg provides with what she considers the three key take away points for managing crises effectively:

1 Be well prepared, you don’t have to be caught off guard

2 Recognize that crises are

difficult, but they can also be an opportunity for your organization to come out stronger on the other side

3 Connect with your vision, mission, and values for

support through the thick of the storm

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Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014

In this issue: • Revenue Generation in Sport Sponsorship • Succession Planning • Strategic Planning

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014



We encourage sport organizations to take three important steps in their crisis management preparations: 1. Establish essential relationships. The heat of a disaster is the poorest possible time to establish new relationships with organizations that you may need to call upon. 2. Store back-up key supplies and information off-site. 3. Form a Crisis Management Team (CMT) empowered to make and implement decisions rapidly in the midst of a crisis. The importance of a Crisis Management Team is in their ability to respond without barriers in a swiftly changing environment. In a crisis scenario it is often not feasible or practical to assemble the Board to make decisions. The CMT provides a centralized power structure that can make and implement decisions rapidly in the midst of the crisis. They can function quickly to exercise stewardship and get the organization back to business as usual, as soon as possible. And they need to have the authority to take rapid decisions and spend money which has not been budgeted in a budget line item. The following steps should be taken ahead of time in your preparation to manage crises so that you can quickly step up to the plate and manage the potential crisis situation: • Identify spokespersons. • Provide training for the CMT and spokespersons.

• Develop generic holding statements so you don’t have to start from scratch. • Ensure that insurance coverage is adequate. • If a Toll free number is required, research ahead of time so it can be readily activated.

3. Containing, managing and resolving the crisis The role of leadership in this stage is to contain the crisis so that is does not contaminate other areas of the business. Often leaders divert full attention to containing the crisis, which is necessary, and other parts of the organization may suffer. Be mindful that you need to take care of the day-to-day operations, make sure there is a second-in-command to look after the business while the crisis is being managed. Communicate not only externally through the media to contain the crisis, but also internally to your staff about what is going on. It is suggested that the best framework for these communications is for them to be clear and aligned with the vision and values of the organization. Many organizations tap into their legal counsel when it comes to communications around a crisis, and while this helps to get the legal viewpoint of the situation, the advice is often to say nothing and to say it slowly. The reality is that research shows it is preferable to err on the side of over-disclosure in the case of escalating situations. If the leadership of

Marg provides some practical advice on communications:

• Timeliness: Walk the burning coals early. Take control early on when and how information comes out. Be first with the bad news. • State clearly that you do not know all the facts. Then promptly state the facts you do know. • Speak on fact, not on rumour or speculation. • Always tell the truth: reveal what you can and in your own words, as much as legally feasible. • Be available – if you aren’t others will fill the vacuum. • Be proactive – not just reactive. • Express genuine concern / sympathy / empathy. • Manage your own emotions – it is not about you. • Limit comments to a single spokesperson when possible. • Focus your message and be disciplined in execution. 12 Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

the organization is not prepared to talk, the media will find someone who is, and by virtue of this, the organization loses control of the messaging. One component of communications that needs to be singled out is social media. The impact of social media cannot be overstated. One tweet can be retweeted to thousands and in a very short time period. A video on YouTube can go viral and before you know it you are in crisis mode. Sport is one of those highly publicized sectors and keeping an eye on social media and addressing escalating issues is a valuable component in crisis management. The crisis management plan and communications in particular must incorporate social media as a point of vulnerability as well as a tool for crisis containment. Leadership skills in crisis management The role of the leader in crisis management is to prepare your organization for those emergencies or crises, you want to instill the values that support a powerful, ethical response and when that crisis does hit you want to lead from the front and communicate in an open and powerful way. It means getting your hands dirty and being present as a visible leader. Effective crisis leaders have the ability to frame events, keep them in perspective, tolerate confusion and hostility, and be decisive despite incomplete information. They must be able to separate what is important from what is background noise, and make well- organized decisions. Connecting to the organization’s mission, values and beliefs can serve as ballast during times of confusion. When leaders get into highly stressful situations, they will know how to react if they have a strong core and sense of organizational values.

4. The Post Mortem stage The focus of this final stage of crisis management is to make meanings and sense out of what has occurred by distilling the critical lessons and what needs to change. This can be done through formal or informal inquiries and audits to find out why the crisis occurred and if there were any systemic causes, and then putting these lessons into practice for the future. It is important to this post-mortem stage that it is conducted in a

“no-fault” learning environment. It needs to be an open atmosphere to really dig into what the key lessons are that need to be learned and what was not learned from the past and why. Reflection questions for evaluating crisis response: • What happened? • Why did it happen? • What does it mean? • What’s being done so ti won’t appen again • What did we learn? • What remains the same? • What has changed? • Who was the most impacted and how are they doing now? It is also important to go through this stage in order to be prepared for the crisis to come up again in the future. You may find that anniversaries or similar cases that occur down the road bring your crisis back into the spotlight; being prepared with what you have learned and/or changes that have been made since the event will show the strength of your organization. Regardless of the length of the situation, crises can take an emotional toll on the organization and on the leader managing the crisis. It is important to take the time to emotionally recover, recharge and rebalance. It is also important to recognize and congratulate those who performed well. In some cases there are negative consequences to the crisis and there will be management shake-ups and loss of employment will be the consequence. During the post-mortem is also the time to reexamine the Signal Detection systems. Find out if the organization’s policies worked, if the environmental scan was sufficient and the like, to see if any adjustments need to be made to the plan. It is also the time to re-examine the Crisis Management Team to see if they were the right people with the right skills and if the team worked effectively together.

Elements of a Crisis Communications Plan (this may vary depending on the size of the organization) 1. A mandate for your organization’s crisis response and communications team so that everyone knows what they are there for and what they are supposed to do. 2. The names and 24-hour contact information of the members of the crisis response team. 3. Alternative meeting points and means of communication in case you cannot meet at your offices. 4. A list and contact information of key stakeholders. 5. One or more identified and trained media spokespersons. 6. One or more writers with access to equipment to produce and distribute information bulletins. 7. The names and 24-hour contact information for external communications support (a national parent association, agency or consultants). 8. One or more media relations officers with the equipment to contact and to be contacted by the media. 9. A current media list for your area. 10. A media holding area and a procedure for receiving and briefing media who may arrive at your premises. 11. One or more people to contact and talk to other stakeholders such as employees and their families, volunteers, members, suppliers, the authorities, elected officials, community representatives etc. 12. Pre-prepared background information on your organization. 13. A pre-prepared new release template. 14. A schedule for regular testing of your crisis response program. Source: SportBC. (2011). Crisis Communications Planning and Implementation. Retrieved from the Internet April 14, 2014.

Conclusion Crises really need to be looked at as an opportunity. They can teach us what is broken and taking action to address what went wrong can make the organization and the sector stronger. ∆

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


Sport Governance webinar series

hosted by

Building a Communications Plan


hat is a communication plan? When should it be developed? Where does the information in the plan come from? How do you write one, and why should I bother? In today’s work environment, methods of communication are changing at lightning speeds which, if you’re unprepared, can feel a bit daunting. Before launching an event, website, new product or service, it’s critical that your organization create a Communications Plan to guarantee your efforts are having the impact you’re looking for. A good Communications Plan should be a road map that guides your work toward specific outcomes and it should relate to an organization’s brand, image, mission, values, and goals. Developing a Communications Plan should be a dynamic process - as your organization changes, the way you communicate will also need to change. Creating a Communications Plan ensures your target audiences receive, understand and act on your messages, and makes certain that you’re doing the right work, pursuing the right goals, and doing it the best way possible with the resources you have available.

is crucial that 1. Itidentify your



messages early on in the

A digital strategy is an Much effort and focus is placed you have determined 2. Once who your target audiences 3. essential component of 4. on communications leading up to are, whether they are internal or external, you will need to

communications planning process. A key message is a strong statement about an organization’s belief about itself. It can also be a strong statement about a particular issue about which the organization takes a stand.

devise a specific plan and a particular message for each of them. Internal:

(see sidebar on the next page)

Clubs, NSOs, Sport Canada, Canadian Heritage, Athletes, Coaches, Staff, Canadian Sport Centres/Institutes, corporate partners, parents, etc. External – Media, Fans, potential corporate partners, governments (municipal, provincial, federal), etc.

any plan.

and during sporting event. What’s often overlooked is the importance of post-event communication.


So many social media platforms are now available to organizations in order to communicate their key messages, events, announcements, etc. Social media is an easy, inexpensive way to reach a huge audience. Be sure to use as many platforms as possible!

Post-event communication helps the transition of efforts from the current event to the success of the next. Staying engaged with

(see the Useful Resources in Creating Your Communications Plan on the sidebar)

14 Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

participants immediately following the conclusion of an event can enhance your key messages and build upon the event experience. Keeping the event and event experiences at the forefront of attendee’s minds prolongs the buzz of a successfully run event and may be the factor that guarantees future participation or attention.

(see the Post-Event Communication Tips and Tricks on the sidebar)

Identifying your Key Messages

Post-Event Communication - Tips and Tricks

A key message is a strong statement about an organization’s belief about itself

Post-event communication helps the transition of efforts from the current event to the success of the next.

Key messages can be some of the most overlooked part of the communications plan yet they are so important. A key message is the core content for all your communications tools and is what you want your audience to remember about your event when it’s all over. Effective key messages provide straightforward, clearly worded information that seeks to engage people and get them interested in your event.

1. Be prompt.

How are key messages created? Identify what is unique about your event or organization. The message should express the “image” you want to portray to the public that differentiates you from others. Essentially, the aim is to create a message that supports your organizations goals as well as your supporters. Your primary message should be: • Punchy • Creative • Eye catching • Creating excitement • Easy for people to understand and remember • Relevant to the intended audience Supporting messages provide the facts, examples, and simple explanations that reinforce your key messages. Your supporting messages are built by breaking your primary message down to 2-3 points in order to create a “story” that builds on your main message. A good way to do this is by advertising interesting facts such as: anniversaries, records, special athletes or guests, or that your event is sold out. Resources: Creating your Communications Plan by Sylvie Bigras

• Send out material as soon as the event is wrapped while experiences are still fresh and people are thinking about returning. • Prepare material beforehand so it can be released straight from venues as attendees are leaving.

2. Summary press releases.

• Highlight event successes from an organizational or attendee perspective. • Include things like attendance numbers and event contributions so others can see the impact of the event. • Have a recruitment message for next year. Individuals are more likely to act with the event current in their minds.

3. Say thank you.

• To volunteers, sponsors, attendees, and participants. Everyone will appreciate your acknowledgement.

4. Email surveys to gather immediate feedback.

• Send a survey while the memory of the day is still fresh. A good practice is to attach it to a thank you email. • Post the feedback and the changes that will be made as a result; it shows participants that the information is being used.

5. Keep social media pages active.

• Ensure content is engaging, otherwise you will lose the interest you worked so hard to captivate. • Activate discussion pages so attendees/participants/coaches can share their experiences and talk to others. • Post pictures or have others submit theirs for a contest. It can help generate future interest from new parties.

Resources: Marketing and Communications Event Communication Post-event communication: The most neglected part of any event How to extend event experience with post-event communication

Useful Resources in Creating Your Communications Plan Having access to communications plan resources such as templates, ‘how to’ tips on creating key messages, and workbooks can break creating a Communications Plan down into manageable steps. These concise reference materials provided by SIRC help ensure the effective and efficient completion of a Communications Plan. • Creating Your Communications Plan by Sylvie Bigras

Subscribe to the

• Communications Strategy Template

Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Leadership Winter 2014

• Post Event Email Templates – Relay For Life


• Communication and Promotional Guidelines – Snowboard Canada

Leadership SIRCuit HERE

• Integrated Marketing and Communication Plan Example – OPS Dragon Boat Club • Post Event Communications (see article above)

In this issue: • Revenue Generation in Sport Sponsorship • Succession Planning • Strategic Planning

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014

• Identifying Your Key Messages (see article above) 1

• The Communications Plan Development Process: A Case Study Version française

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014



Watch the complete webinar

Sylvie Bigras Sylvie specializes in communications planning and facilitation. She holds a Masters Degree in Sport Management from the University of Ottawa, and has worked in the communications field at fourteen Olympic Games.

Sylvie Bigras presents an overview of the fundamentals needed to start developing a Communications Plan. This presentation explains the 5Ws (who, what, where, why, when) and tactics on how to bring their communications plan to life. Whether you are writing a communications plan for an upcoming event or developing a comprehensive communications strategy for your organization, this presentation will help you understand the basic components required to more effectively and efficiently share your message with your audiences.

listen... Q&A

with Sylvie Bigras

A number of interesting questions were asked during the Communications Plan webinar. Listen to the podcasts as Sylvie answers a selection of them. Q: With a large number of news stories competing for attention what should organizations be incorporating when trying to draw the media’s attention when sharing a story? Q: Any suggestions for managing all media when you have one specific media partner and competition among media outlets? Q: Is the Communications Plan part of the Marketing Plan or is it something completely separate? Q: Should you create a new Plan every year, or simply update last year’s?

16 Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

Version franรงaise

Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


WHO’S READING WHAT? Have you read anything interesting lately? Sport leaders are often avid readers with an appetite to learn more.  To help stimulate the continued learning, SIRC thought it would be a great idea to find out “Who’s Reading What?” and share insights, comments and recommendations with other sport leaders across the country. 

Book Title:

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance


David Epstein

the book and how it stimulated their interests in areas that were outside their expertise. Anchoring the evidence to stories of the researchers and athletes involved was a great way to expose readers to the complex issues in this exciting field of science.

An important element of Epstein’s book is that the science provides the foundation for the story. A specific issue we discussed related to the different ways popular authors (as opposed to scientific researchers) approach the issue of nature, nurture and the development of expertise. We compared The Sports Gene, which provides detailed evidence in the chapter notes to support statements made, to books like Outliers (Gladwell, 2008) and Bounce (Syed, 2010), which focus more on presenting anecdotes to illustrate specific points – often In March, we used The Sports reflecting positions that are contrary Gene by David Epstein as the to current evidence. Prospective basis for a discussion in my authors will have a difficult time graduate class on the “Psychology convincing an increasingly of Skilled Performance” at York knowledgeable audience of the University. Our main focus legitimacy of their position without was on this book’s contribution also demonstrating a thorough to discussions amongst the understanding of the science that general public and the scientific supports it. They can blame David community about the roles of Epstein for the extra work. nature and nurture in developing elite athletes. The graduate Joseph Baker, students were universally positive PhD, Associate Professor, School of about how much they enjoyed Kinesiology & Health Science, York University

18 Empowering sport organizations through strong leadership

David Epstein is a former collegiate middle-distance runner who now writes for Sports Illustrated. Anyways, he has travelled the world, and looked at the intimate interaction between nature and nurture - genes and environment. This book gives a good overview of the current scientific state of the area behind the role that genes play in sports performance, but also extends out in a balanced manner to demonstrate the VERY important aspect of environment on performance outcomes. You cannot have nature or nurture alone - they are intertwined and connected. The book also does a great job presenting real life examples.

Trent Stellingwerff,

Lead of Innovation and Research, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific

Great story telling... “Informative story telling on where athletes come from - nature or nurture? It helps athletes understand if they need to choose their parents well or the find a great coach.”

Richard Way,

Senior Leader, Canadian Sport for Life

Being a good athlete is not about nature vs. nurture but a product of both. It is hardware ( nature) plus Software (nurture) that creates an elite athlete. He also does distinguish the importance of the environment and training. “If only accumulated hours of practice matter, then why do we separate men and women in athletic competition?”

This book offers a contrary view Joshua Karanja, to the many other recent books on Winner 2013 Ottawa Half MaraTalent (Bounce, Talent Code, Talent thon, Guide Runner for Paralymis Overrated, Outliers, The Goldmine pian Jason Dunkerley Effect).

Dale Henwood,

President and CEO, Canadian Sport Institute Calgary

Debra Gassewitz President & CEO, SIRC After hearing Jon Gordon speak at the CAC Sport Leadership Conference, SIRC ordered the book for the resource centre. I really took to heart the notion that it’s up to you whether you exude positive energy or drain the energy of a group. You need to make a conscious effort within a team to keep the energy positive. A great message for managers at all levels.

Michele O’Keefe Executive Director, Canada Basketball I’m not finished the book yet...but the concept is happiness fuels success, not the other way around. It’s a different perspective to approach your day. Book Title: The Happiness Advantage Author: Shawn Achor

Book Title: The Energy Bus Author: Jon Gordon

David Patterson

Craig Andreas Chief Operating Officer, Equine Canada A must for anyone developing programs for participants in the early stages of development... it had a profound impact on the way I view recreation and sport. Book Title: Why Johnny Hates Sports: Why Organized Youth Sports Are Failing Our Children and What We Can Do About It Author: Fred Engh

CEO, Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada The book takes a lot of management theory and applies it to real world situations - showing that the world does not fit into theoretical boxes as well as we would like. Book Title: A Theory of Organizing Author: Barbara Czarniawska

Anne Merklinger

Joanne Kay Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Sport Canada The first book to provide a comprehensive social and historical context for development of policy in specific key areas. It is fair and appropriately critical without alienating the very decision-makers who can benefit the most from the critique and debate.

CEO, Own the Podium Offers some practical suggestions that can be used in a variety of environments. Book Title: Will It Make the Boat go Faster Author: Be Hunt-Davis and Harriet Beveridge

Book Title: Sport Policy in Canada Author: Lucie Thibault and Jean Harvey (Editors)

Pierre Lafontaine CEO, Canadian Interuniversity Sport A great book to understand coaching and education under the same platform. Great read. Book Title: David and Goliath Author: Malcolm Gladwell

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Leadership SIRCuit - Summer 2014


Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) is Canada’s national sport library, established over 35 years ago. Mailing address: SIRC 180 Elgin Street, Suite 1400 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2P 2K3 Tel: +1 (613) 231-7472 Fax: +1 (613) 231-3739

for more information and resources Disclaimer: Author’s opinions expressed in the articles are not necessarily those of SIRCuit, its publisher, the Editor, or the Editorial Board. SIRC makes no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness or suitability for any purpose of the content. Copyright © 2014 SIRC. All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored, transmitted, or disseminated, in any form, or by any means, without prior written permission from SIRC, to whom all requests to reproduce copyright material should be directed, in writing. Photo’s courtesy of Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, Bal Gosal, MP, Sport Canada, Canoe Kayak Canada, Monique Giroux For more information:

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