OPINION: KSL – Winning the Phoney War

Guest writer Richard Clark on the importance of the countdown to the Kia Super League.

So we know the “hosts”, we know where the England players are allocated, we know where the overseas signings have gone, we know the full squads, and we know the fixtures. All this after a well-orchestrated two or three weeks of “drip, drip” style announcements from the ECB and the KSL.

And now? Well, now we must wait. There are, give or take, three months until the start of “KSL1” (if that is what we are to call it). Three long months. Of waiting…

Except wait is the last things the hosts and the ECB should be doing. These three months are, in some ways, more important than the competition itself, because to a certain extent KSL1 will not stand or fall on the quality of the cricket. In a competition that lasts only three weeks (and only two for a couple of the teams) there will be little time for the cricket to make an impact. By the time people make their mind up as to whether it’s worth watching… it will be all but over.

No, KSL1 will succeed at least in part if it “gains traction” in the public consciousness, if it pulls in punters on opening night, if it catches the eye of the media. On that score, so far so good, by and large. The process of gradually unveiling the set-up has been well handled and the “franchises” have generally bought into the need to shout about it. Interest has been piqued, and followings have tentatively been established [see our previous piece on Twitter impact].

Over the next three months, though, nothing much is happening, and it is now – through what you might term the “Phoney War” – that the ECB and the hosts need to earn their corn in terms of turning what I referred to above as “followings” into something more tangible as “fan-bases”.

Nearer the time, there will no doubt be personal appearances by players at events and coaching days close to the host venues, but how about in the meantime?

Marketing departments have got to work overtime in the coming weeks to ensure that they get their message out there. To an extent the mainstream media will not want to know at the moment (What’s the story? Oh, you’ve got a game in three months’ time? Come back and see us then…), so a lot of publicity is going to have to be self-generated.

Social Media will be key here. It will not be enough to put a page on a website and expect that to do the job. Via Twitter and other social media channels the hosts need to get themselves embedded into cricket fans’ minds. Each host has its own dedicated Twitter feed (with the exception of Surrey Stars – a serious mistake in my view). They need to use them daily to worm their way into their followers lives. And remember, it’s not just their followers they are aiming in – never underestimate the power and reach of the re-tweet!

The players too must be tweeting about it constantly – Twitter can be a dangerous world for the sportsman or woman, but the positives here should outweigh the negatives. If this is a “War”, then it needs to be fought with total commitment, and with every weapon available.

And KSL has some weapons – the likes of Edwards, Taylor (both of them!), Lanning, Perry, Matthews… These are potential superstars for my daughter’s generation, and they have to be used as tools in the coming months to make sure KSL1 opens with a bang.

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2 thoughts on “OPINION: KSL – Winning the Phoney War

  1. Thanks for this – very interesting thoughts.

    We probably need to give the teams a while to work out their fanbase to tailor their social media to. For all we know, one or more of the franchises could “go bust” after the first year, split, or merge with another even. This is not without precedent. In the IPL for instance, each year seems to bring changes to the franchised teams. Once the KSL sides have established their sustainability, we may see more individualised social media profiles.

    I’m not sure whether Surrey’s approach of integrating their KSL team’s social media presence into their regular Surrey Cricket account is a good idea or not. To me the jury’s still out – there are reasons why it could be a better approach, but it does create the impression that they don’t care as much about KSL as they should. Overall I think it probably is a good thing that at least one team is taking this tack though, if only to gain more data about how it works in comparison to the other teams, and show more clearly which approach is more appropriate.

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  2. Two suggestions:

    1) The ECB should run feature articles like this prior to the start of the competition: http://www.cricket.com.au/news/feature/womens-big-bash-league-player-signings-lanning-perry-healy-edwards-taylor-matthews-ferling-knight/2015-11-30

    2) The various WBBL franchises boosted the profile of their domestic players with introductory videos like these: http://www.sydneythunder.com.au/video/belinda-vakarewa/2015-10-26

    It doesn’t come easily to a Kiwi to say this – but I think Cricket Australia and the WBBL franchises got a lot right in the lead-up to WBBL01, and there is no shame in following their lead.

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