Sport PR in a digital age: Is Joe Root the dawn of the social media England captain?
Yesterday (Monday 13 February), the English Cricket Board (ECB) announced Joe Root as the Test captain, with all-rounder Ben Stokes promoted to number two in command.
Like with any appointment, whether it be political, corporate or indeed, sporting, there is always a desire to understand a person’s vision and what their leadership will look like. After twenty years of reality TV shows, it is a given that we need to know someone’s ‘backstory’ and what they’re thinking.
Cricket retains an odd-quaintness to those on the outside – the tea breaks, the MCC’s Harlequin caps and ties, plus the language of googlies, yorkers and silly point. Alastair Cook, who Root succeeds, while a terrific sportsman with huge qualities on the pitch was rarely seen or heard during the off-season, preferring to tend to his farm. Andrew Strauss, the man who Cook preceded, wrote handwritten letters to fellow teammates before announcing his retirement.
The sport may not have the popularity or reach of football, however cricket and cricketers have been quick to utilise social media as a means of keeping in contact with fans, followers and indeed customers.
Consider several other leading cricketers – Australian captain Steve Smith, the peripatetic West Indian Chris Gayle and South African batsmen AB de Villiers, all have millions of followers. The Indian captain Virat Kohli leads from the front on-field and off-field with almost 14 million global followers. Cricket can pull in the advertisers and interest via Twitter and Instagram, as well as loyal listeners to Test Match Special.
Root’s following may be significantly smaller than the sub-continent’s demi-god Kohli, but he may well use his captaincy as an opportunity to give an insight on training, team bonding and of course his captaincy.
While the laws of the game are unlikely to shift, it will be interesting to see how Root uses social media not only as an add-on, but as integral part of his leadership.
Photo credit – David Surtees on Flickr. All rights reserved.
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