Keeping in Touch with Grassroots Football
We're highlighting the various ways of keeping in touch with our local grassroots football news and activities, plus the online and offline facilities which players, coaches, referees, volunteers, clubs and competitions can use all year round.
Our website is the primary source of news and information for stakeholders. It’s the main hub for publishing details of County FA projects, helpful documents and links and descriptions of core activities and schemes. It’s a facility for everyone which was rebuilt in 2016 and each page is under constant review to update and improve it.
Twitter is the main engagement tool for us to interact with stakeholders on a minute-by-minute basis, sharing information and useful links via the @EssexCountyFA account (plus the newly-launched @EssexReferees and @EssexCoaches) to areas of the website. It’s also an efficient way of sharing ‘user-generated content’ and best practice.
6,345 tweets were dispatched during 2017/18, resulting in a huge 14,068,000 tweet impressions. The platform enables us to educate a varied demographic about processes and the services and possibilities available, plus the popular monthly #CelebrateEssex volunteer awards are organised through Twitter.
Facebook offers an additional dimension of interaction. The page at ‘EssexFootball’ engages, informs and educates widely in a similar fashion to Twitter, though content tends to be in more detail. The monthly Fair Play Awards are awarded via Facebook polls, too.
In February 2018, we sent our first E-Mail Newsletter (subscribe here) to a new GDPR-compliant subscription, then on the last Friday of every month thereafter. The newsletter contains links to prominent topical news stories across various subjects. This is a service which had been explicitly requested by stakeholders during several recent surveys.
Squad Booster is the main facility to pair teams with potential new players browsing the portal. Clubs submit an online form with details such as their training and match days and the position/s they require. Batches of adverts are then published weekly on the website, then individual tweets are scheduled during the following month for additional exposure.
The service was re-launched in November 2017 with a more efficient process for clubs to submit adverts - down to around a four-minute completion time per advert - and a regionalised layout on the web page. This has been well-received, with a 100% form completion rate recorded and a total of 677 adverts submitted in 2017/18.
As part of an overall Marketing & Communications Strategy, publications are produced each season in either hard or digital formats, or both. The most prominent of these is the County Handbook which contains reference information, rules and regulations each September. Concurrently, a smaller Essex County Schools FA Handbook is also published.
An Annual Report is created online to chart the business of the County FA for the purposes of sharing these details at the Annual General Meeting in June plus, during the 2017/18 season, a ‘Moving Forward’ 2018-21 Strategy brochure was designed. This highlighted the strategic vision for the organisation for the following three years.
Plans are being made to drive forward the County FA’s video content and populate the YouTube channel at ‘EssexFA’ with quality streams. On the radio, all BBC Essex Senior Cup Draws have been broadcast live from the station’s Chelmsford studios, as well as the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals of the Saturday Premier and Women’s Cups.
Essex County FA Press & Publicity Officer, Chris Evans, is delighted with these services available for the benefit of grassroots football, explaining: “144 news stories were produced on our website in 2017/18, contributing to a total of 181,309 unique visitors during the course of the campaign. Ideas for new pages are also being constantly implemented to improve the website.”
“With a significant shift away from desktop to mobile and device-based Internet use, the requirement for us to harness the power of social media is greater than ever, and increasing. Video has also become considerably more popular and is a significant growth area in marketing, so it’s essential for us to capitalise on it to promote grassroots football.”
“What we do would be much more difficult were it not for many media organisations who latch onto our news articles and provide coverage in print, online and on the radio. BBC Essex Sports Editor, Glenn Speller, is a true friend of Essex football, supported by Paul Joslin and Victoria Polley as well as many staff and special guests who help us with the cup draws.”
“The station often invite us on-air to talk about grassroots football subjects. The Romford Recorder [Lee Power], the Daily Gazette in Colchester [Matt Plummer] and the Yellow Advertiser in South Essex [Mick Ferris] have been particularly helpful in the newspaper sector, with The Game Magazine [Daren Cousins] also running a bi-monthly feature on our activities.”
You can keep in touch with us via our website, on Twitter by following @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook. You can also sign-up for the E-Mail Newsletter and access all other services.