This article was produced by SportBusiness International working in association with UIPM, the modern pentathlon world governing body
THE WORLD OF SPORT has developed in a way that Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern pentathlon, could never have imagined.
In today’s highly competitive environment, successful governing bodies have had to operate as highly professional administrative and commercial organisations in order to provide the levels of support and funding that their sports require to thrive.
And according to UIPM secretary general Shiny Fang, modern pentathlon is determined to remain at the forefront of professional best practice.
“The UIPM was never a big federation in terms of administration and management. But to upgrade the organisation and the sport and to catch up in the 21st century, a professional level of administration has been applied and has made a major impact on development of the sport,” she says.
“In the past four years, the UIPM has dedicated itself to improving all kinds of management and governance from procedures, templates and staffing to all levels of communications, and the result speaks for itself.
“More than that, creating real multi-sport platforms with various combinations of the UIPM disciplines established the base of the pyramid of the organization, including Olympic and non-Olympic sports under the UIPM umbrella. Raising the standard of major UIPM competitions and the way the world sees them was another goal and, although there is still room for improvement, we finally achieved most of our wishes.”
Looking to the next four-year Olympic cycle, Shiny Fang says that UIPM will focus on the continued growth of the modern pentathlon community while developing and adhering to the levels of governance and transparency required by the IOC’s Agenda 2020 policy.
The commercial development of the Federation goes hand-in-hand with the growth of the sport as a result of the development of modern pentathlon itself and the innovative multi-sport variants that come under the UIPM umbrella.
“I don’t think we can create brand new revenue streams easily, but the advantage of a multi-sport organisation is that it gives us a lot of new ideas and concepts which give us the confidence to experiment,” Fang says.
Naturally digital is firmly on the UIPM agenda and the launch of an online shop is seen as a potentially significant step forward.
“Because of the multi-sport nature of UIPM, we hope to provide a one-stop shopping platform for our members and clients who can easily find what they need for their training and competition needs, and of course we promote more UIPM self-branded productions,” Fang explains.
“It is a very ambitious project, but one that could be very rewarding too.”
Her years as an athlete, coach, instructor and academic have given Fang a unique perspective of the world of sport and she understands that, above all, communication is the key to achieving modem pentathlon’s short and longer term goals.
“Attitude is at the core of the way we communicate. The culture of the organisation defines the tone of communication, so UIPM staff work hard to create a culture of cooperation by comforting stakeholders through smooth communication,” she says.
We hope to provide a one-stop shopping platform for our members and clients
The critical role of effective communications is a theme taken up by UIPM marketing and media manager Roque Teixeira, who believes that while modern pentathlon benefits hugely from its rich heritage and would be weaker without it, the sport simply has to keep moving to meet the demands of the modern world.
“It has traditionally been about five sports coming together as one but nowadays the UIPM has numerous sub-sports that combine two, three or four disciplines that help athletes on their journey to the ultimate challenge of Modern Pentathlon,” he explains.
“These messages of development, innovation and progress are sometimes not so easily transmitted and this is why communication matters so much. The UIPM is now achieving more than ever in terms of exposure and explanation of modern pentathlon.”
Driven by the UIPM, the sport is changing in many ways, among them the way it is presented to athletes but spectators at venues and the TV audience.
“The way the sport is presented has been an important focus for us, not only in terms of event presentation and athlete experience but also in the standardisation of our event branding. There are clear guidelines prepared and delivered to organisers where the UIPM and modern pentathlon or sub-sport branding can be easily identified,” Teixeira says.
“Exposure for sponsors and partners is a different proposition nowadays not only because of the TV coverage and online streaming of our events but also because there are more sophisticated methods of branding and messaging through venue dressing.”
Given the global nature of the sport, its athletes and audience the effectiveness of communications and branding is being enhanced by the development of what promotions manager Leandro Pontes describes as the UIPM digital ecosystem.
This month sees the launch of a new official website, www.UIPMworld.org, which along with the new online TV platform, UIPMTV.org, are at the heat of the Federation’s digital strategy.
“Around those two platforms we will around which we grow the UIPM’s profile on the most popular social media platforms in the world, namely Facebook (/theUIPM), Twitter (@ theUIPM), Instagram (theuipm), LinkedIn, Snapchat (theuipm) plus Sina Weibo ( ) and WeChat (UIPM_China) in China and VK (/VivaModernPentathlon) in Russia,” Pontes explains.
“We use the term eco-system because it reflects our strategy. It is about being live and interconnected.
“Nowadays the UIPM can connect with fans no matter where they are in the world and we have the ability to tailor content for them by local culture, languages and consumption habits. Also the fact that each social medium has its own features allows us to talk to a wide age range by different means.”
The new UIPMworld.org platform is a 360-degree resource for the UIPM and all of its stakeholders. It is home to events calendars, live results, athlete biographies, rankings and, of course, all the latest UIPM news.
The new site will, according to Teixeira, be a pleasant surprise.
It will have an enhanced visual interface on both desktop and mobile versions, ‘amazingly fast’ page loads, better search engine optimisation and better social network connections.
“It was created on a user-first approach,” he says. “We know that our fans are the people who make the UIPM what it is, so our community is everything.
“We also applied the mobile rationale that everybody can enjoy a simple and easy navigation on every device. The new website is dynamic, strongly branded and easy to use by design. We are going to develop further the live streaming and live results, in order to provide regular new content and exciting news for our fans.”
The other core element of the UIPM digital eco-system is UPMTV.org which was launched at the beginning of 2016.
“It is a new part of the portfolio that aims to bring the UIPM sports to life through a live portal experience,” Pontes says. “It is interactive, responsive and highly accessible to fans who want to follow and know more about their sporting heroes. Visitors to the site can watch live streaming and on-demand highlights of major UIPM competitions and also engage with athletes through a social media hub.
“We don’t receive regular TV coverage on a daily basis but having our own TV platform means we can more effectively deliver an experience of our sport to existing and new audiences in formats and on the devices that they use and prefer.
“In doing so, we are increasing the exposure of the sport, athletes, sponsors and also the host cities,” Teixeira says.
Pontes adds: “All in all, the UIPM’s communications philosophy is to engage locally to find a global reach. And we do!”
To continue reading the Modern pentathlon focus, please click the links below:
Thoroughly modern – An introduction to modern pentathlon
Event overview – Key issues around the World Championships
On top of the sport – A detailed look Lena Schöneborn, one of modern pentathlon’s stars