Short and sweet the formula as GAA raises their online game

The GAA are using cyberspace to help communicate with a new audience

The Leinster and Ulster Councils of the GAA upped their internet presence this month by launching a web TV channel and social media initiative respectively.

John Cotter, marketing and commercial manager for Leinster GAA contacted Kildare TV, an online television production company last January about an online TV presence, pitched the idea to Leinster GAA management in March and the online TV station was launched last week.

“It’s a magazine-type station,” says Cotter. “We have championship previews, interviews with Leinster legends and former players. We’re profiling our schools, discussing our international connections and doing club profiles, maybe, when the championship dies down a little.”

Cotter is keeping the segments short.

“They last about 10 minutes each because that’s the nature of online viewing. So far we’re getting a good reaction, obviously we’re encouraging as many people to view it online as they can, and we’re keeping it as fresh as possible.

“Our aim is to have something fresh online every day, and so far we’ve achieved that. There’s no impact on broadcasting deals, we’re not streaming any matches live or anything like that. RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 do that very well and transmitting highlights or deferred broadcasts. We’re doing something different — the story around the championship, if you like.

“We have panel shows, for instance, where GAA journalists sit down and preview a team’s chances in the championship.

“We have previews done of each county’s first game and we’ll be putting those up ahead of those games.

“After games we’ll also do review-type programmes based on the previous weekend’s action, so we’ll keep it rolling through the championship.

Further north, Ryan Feeney, Head of Community Development, Strategy and Public Affairs of the Ulster Council, says the move to social media is being driven from the top.

“Our President, Aogán Ó Fearghail, is a former chair of the National GAA IT Committee, as is the Council secretary, Danny Murphy. They’ve been very forward-thinking about this because it gets the GAA view across.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on Facebook, where we have 7,000 followers, and Twitter, where we have 5,000. We also have preview programmes online, five to nine minutes long, as well as podcasts: those feature former players talking about upcoming games. It’s the future — social media is where people can go to get information about games, tickets and so on. We’ve worked hard with the nine counties in Ulster on that — they’ve all got new websites, they’re on Facebook and Twitter, and those are all linked to the Ulster Council presence in social media.”

Feeney’s conscious of the potential pitfalls of social media, and the Ulster Council have been proactive on that issue.

“There’s a code of conduct within the GAA on how Facebook and Twitter are to be used, and we also ran social media workshops for each county last January which were well attended and there was a lot of positive feedback from those. We monitor the Facebook and Twitter sites ourselves to make sure people aren’t being defamatory or anything — it’s intended to be positive and to get the GAA message out rather than abusing anybody.

“Right now I’d say there isn’t a club in Ulster that doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter presence.”

* For more information on Ulster: Twitter: @ulstergaa, www.ulster.gaa.ie ,www.youtube.com/UlsterGAA and www.facebook.com/UlsterGAA.

On Leinster: www.leinster.gaa.ie ,Twitter @gaaleinster, www.facebook.com/pages/Leinster-GAA,www.leinstergaa.tv.


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