Balls, Brand, and Balance: A Q&A with Helen Roe, Head of Marketing & Comms, at Gloucester Rugby 🍒
by Beth Gavin
As an audience of almost 13 million grippingly tuned in for the most watched TV moment of the year, or to put it bluntly, watch England get knocked out of the Rugby World Cup Final (I know, it still hurts a little inside for me too), I wanted to get the lowdown on what it’s really like to work for one of England's top division & European rugby clubs and see if we could learn a thing or two!
Wearing my best cherry and white attire for the occasion (sadly not the Gloucester oddballs briefs), I managed to grab a quick chat with one of Clock’s clients, Gloucester Rugby’s finest - Helen Roe, Head of Marketing and Communications, to get a glimpse into the life of working within the mad world that they call Rugby.
So without further ado, let’s kick-off the interview 🎙️
Q: Can you explain a bit about your role and what you do day-to-day?
A: I am Head of Marketing and Communications at Gloucester Rugby and my day-to-day responsibilities are to develop engaging content to all our target audiences. My role encompasses a lot! I am part of a team at the Club who are aiming to make Gloucester Rugby the best club for fans, players and staff in premiership rugby! Our role is varied, but our focus is on growing our fan base through storytelling, nurturing & promoting our brand, entertaining and promoting all the elements of the Club - matches, season tickets (Club Memberships), our players, our community team, our conference & events facilities, our hospitality programmes and other events we put on like concerts.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a professional sports club and how are you looking to overcome them?
A: Our biggest challenge is to continue to engage and appeal to our long-term fans but also to find and engage with fans of the future. We need to grow our future fan base and this is something that is the focus for many professional sports clubs.
Q: What other professional sports clubs, within rugby or outside of rugby, do you admire for the work they have been doing and why?
A: I really admire the All Blacks – their values are completely immersed into all they do both on and off the pitch! I couldn’t agree more, it was really inspiring to see just how gracious both the team and fans were after their defeat in the RWC semi-final.
Q: What are the things that you have achieved during the past two years that you are most proud of?
A: Our rebrand (launched May 2018) is one of the things I am most proud of. It provided us with the tools and platform we needed to enable us to deliver our aspirations and to future proof Gloucester Rugby. It also gave us the assets we needed to help us deliver our aspirations to deliver services and content to our fans across all digital mediums in the future.
Q: Clock helped to design and build your new app. How have we helped improve the business - and what have you found most useful?
A: Clock have been great to work with! They have both a creative but straightforward approach. Clock challenged us to think from the fans point of view and managed to get to the crux of what we wanted to do - to design an app which was simple to navigate but provided us with a channel to bring new content and services to our fans to enhance their match day experience.
Q: What has helped you the most to engage with your fans?
A: The resulting App included many different elements with a focus on delivering a greater experience for our fans - from In-seat delivery, to match reporting, to launching our new ever growing podcast and incorporating Ref Link. In a nutshell, Clock built an app that allows us to connect with our fans and supports our aspirations of improving the experience for our fans.
Q: What advice would you give to rugby and sports clubs alike who want to embrace digital transformation?
A: Be clear on your objectives and keep your target audience top of mind – we have to appeal to both long-term supporters and supporters of the future.
Q: What exciting things can Gloucester Rugby fans expect over the coming 12-18 months?
A: Our focus is without doubt continuing to improve the experience of our fans at every touch point they have with the Club. This will include us continuing to focus on our digital transformation but also to continue to concentrate on delivering the best experience we can and carry on promoting our amazing players and team!
Q: It must be chaotic when the new season kicks-in, especially during the build up of home fixtures! How do you manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
A: I work with an amazing team at Gloucester Rugby so yes whilst it is chaotic at times we all support each other. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance isn’t always easy but it’s really important to keep things in perspective with regards to results and maintaining an even keel emotionally, so switching yourself off when you are with your family is really important.
Q: And last but not least, what is the funniest thing a rugby player has said to you?
A: There have been so many funny moments and most I can’t mention but a colleague was recently telling me about one of our former players getting on the wrong plane after a game in Ireland – there were two on the tarmac and he chose the wrong one!