Thomas Ffiske, head of PR for QuidditchUK, explains the success of his campaign work around last month’s British Quidditch Cup, as the organisation looks to take the sport beyond the pages of Harry Potter into a thriving, real life, community.
Campaign: The British Quidditch Cup
PR Team: Thomas Ffiske
Timing: March 2016
QuidditchUK, the country’s governing body for quidditch, had struggled to raise the profile of the sport in recent years. Although the British Quidditch Cup was launched in 2014 very few people knew the national tournament is annual, or that quidditch is a ‘serious’ sport. Thomas Ffiske, an associate campaign executive at Diffusion, volunteered his skills to raise the awareness of the sport and the UK tournament.
The campaign had three core aims:
- To raise awareness of the organisation and its tournament.
- To highlight that quidditch is a serious sport with a lively community.
- To promote the creation and development of new teams.
As there was no budget for the campaign, and it was handled by one person in his spare time, the importance of a news hook was vital. The sport’s connection to Harry Potter helps engagement, of course, and it was important to stress the sport’s aspiration to be considered ‘seriously’ and not be dismissed as a children’s fantasy.
In January, the campaign started to raise awareness in national media, particularly the Associated Press, which placed it within its editorial calendar. This generated particular interest with young journalists who grew up reading the Harry Potter books.
The campaign split into two parts. The first was to engage with national media, where one month before the tournament, bloggers, broadcasters and papers were invited to the tournament. With each instance of interest, special emphasis was placed on communicating quidditch as a developing sport that wished to be treated seriously.
The second was local. As there were 32 teams from all across the UK participating, it was important to let local communities know about their participation so that interest was generated in their home teams. In addition, the local press around Rugeley, Staffordshire – where the tournament was hosted – was invited to the tournament to cover the event, prompting further enthusiasm for the sport.
The tournament achieved widespread coverage, with BBC and ITV News running broadcast pieces on the tournament and widespread local coverage of the event. Rugeley experienced a massive spike in numbers as hotels were booked out and pubs offered discounts to its new visitors.
Vice.com came to the event and created the event’s ‘hero piece’ of coverage: ‘How Real-Life Quidditch Has Become the World’s Most Progressive Sport,’ which positioned quidditch as forward-thinking and inclusive.
Most importantly, the vast majority of coverage used the Harry Potter link as the hook, and then went into detail on how the rules used at the event deviated from the books.
ITV, Vice and the London Evening Standard in particular did excellent pieces on the tournament, raising its profile. The tournament had also inspired new teams in Birmingham, Worcester and Glasgow, meaning that the next British Quidditch Cup will hopefully be 40-strong next year.
Overall it had been a very successful campaign which will lay the groundwork for the sport’s next major tournament – the Quidditch World Cup in Frankfurt this July.
This weekend (16 – 17 April), The European Quidditch Cup will take place in Gallipoli, Italy, with 40 teams from across Europe competing for the title of European champion.