Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT) is the world’s largest timed cycling event with 42,500 entrants contributing roughly R450-million to the local economy annually. We have proudly handled the brand and reputation management, crisis communication, media relations, social media and on-site media centre logistics for this iconic event for over a decade. Since 2009, we have been helping to raise its international profile and, in 2013, we introduced a record-setting social media element to the communications mix.
Over 100 local and international media are hosted in our media centre and along the route each year. This part of the campaign involves creating and equipping a well-positioned physical location with workstations, soundproof booths, broadband access, telephones, and more. Pre-publicity starts 10 months prior to race day and includes working with sponsors and their agencies to optimise investments through editorial exposure, and alerting riders to the schedule for entries. In the days before the tour we ensure seamless media accreditation and, on event day, we deliver world class media liaison and logistics – including the co-ordination of 20 motorbike riders to transport media to and from locations along the route – to maximise credible exposure. Post-event media relations precede an exhaustive campaign review for our client, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust (CTCTT) and its sponsors.
Crisis communications and reputation management: A week before CTCT 2015, Southern Peninsula fires closed large sections of the traditional 109km route, threatening the event with cancellation. Four days before race day, the CTCTT and its stakeholders decided to stage a vastly shortened 47km circular route. We immediately deployed a strategic, large-scale crisis communications campaign – the “Showyoucaresolidarityride” – to inform all entrants and event stakeholders on the revised plans for race day, and position the abbreviated race as a show of support for the fire fighters. Our campaign generated widespread goodwill for the CTCT brand, and united participants on the day to salute Cape Town’s heroic fire fighters and volunteers. It also ensured that CTCT 2015 retained its position as the world’s largest timed cycling event.
In 2017, incredibly strong winds on race day made the staging of the race dangerous for riders. We handled the crisis communications around the cancellation, drafting the press release to all media, putting out alerts on social media, organising the press conference, drafting the director’s speech, ensuring that food from the finish village went to those in need etc. Many people travel many miles to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, but despite the disappointment, the well-orchestrated communications ensure that the brand did not suffer and that riders understood and supported the decision.
In 2018, the Western Cape experienced the most severe drought in a century. A few months before the Cape Town Cycle Tour (held in March), there was concern that the city would run out of drinking water. The CTCTT had been working since the previous year on a plan to reduce water usage. This was expanded to make the event “water-neutral”. An estimation of the number of participants from out of town and their water consumption while in the city was undertaken. This (and more) was offset by importing drinking water from areas not affected by drought, and adding the water to one of the affected dams.
The campaign we ran to highlight this included press releases, social media, vlogs, and live Q&As with the organisers. We are lucky to work with this incredibly proactive client – together, we successfully turned rising negative sentiment into full support for the race and its organisers.