Braving the Backlash: New report helps brands navigate hate speech online in the 2024 summer of sport

Global socially-led creative agency We Are Social has released a new report which helps brands tackle hate speech during major sporting events.

Titled ‘Braving The Backlash: How Sports Brands Can Take a Stand on Social’, the report has been written by We Are Social Sport and covers two key issues that are likely to result in online hate during sporting events: racial discrimination, and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity. 

The agency’s research has found that these conversations spike on social media during major sporting occasions. As a result, Braving the Backlash examines these topics through the lens of two major sporting events this summer: UEFA Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics/Paralympics, and advises brands on how to manage their response.

Braving the Backlash lays out a three step programme specific to both the Euros and the Paris Games. The initial preparation phase describes why sports brands need an anti-hate policy, what it should consist of and where to display it. As part of this, it details a ‘Three Rs Model’ – Remain, Reply and Report – to help brands and community managers successfully categorise and respond to hate speech online. This leads on to a collaboration phase, explaining how to co-create and work or stand alongside others from affected communities. The final step details the actions brands need to take depending on the issue at hand, from separation to deliberation. 

In addition to We Are Social’s own research undertaken by its Cultural Insights team, the report also includes takeaways for brands rooted in expert guidance from leading voices on these issues: Troy Townsend MBE, Head of Player Engagement at Kick It OutLiz Ward, Global Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and former Director of Programmes at Stonewall, and Aby Hawker, CEO of TransMission PR, a communications consultancy that specialises in trans and non-binary inclusion and awareness.

We Are Social launched the first iteration of Braving the Backlash in 2018, designed to help brands who run diversity-focused campaigns take a stand on social in response to hate. It has since been cited and presented regularly and the new report builds on the original frameworks for a sport-focused audience.

Dan Parker, group editorial director at We Are Social Sport commented: “While sporting occasions give us much to celebrate, it’s sadly a fact that they also lead to an increase in hate speech. We see this throughout the season and it’s also true of bigger global sporting events. For brands who are involved in sports, whether that’s through athlete sponsorship or marketing campaigns, it’s essential to be prepared, and we’re here to help brands do exactly that.”

Charlie Cottrell, executive editorial director at We Are Social added: “We know hate speech on social media is an issue, and a concern for brands who want to be present on social platforms. Ignoring it and hoping it’ll go away isn’t an option – brands need to be proactive and address issues like this head on. This approach will lead to stronger relationships with their communities and with their creator partners, as well as helping make social a better place to be for everyone. Brands are powerful, influential, and can lead change on social media if they choose to help turn the tide of online hate.”

Download the report on We Are Social’s website.

Source: We Are Social

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