Right Formula’s new podcast, The Winning Formula, has today launched with its debut episode featuring British sporting great, Paula Radcliffe.
In Episode 1, the three-time London Marathon winner and former Athletics World Champion explains how she was “very fortunate” to have grasped an early understanding of the business side of sport, which set her up for a glittering career on and off the track.
The debut podcast, which gathers key insight from leading names across the international Sports and Entertainment industry, also saw Radcliffe chat to podcast host and Right Formula Head of Communications, Ben Nichols, about topics such as sponsorship in athletics, her long-standing relationship with Nike, athlete marketability and competitor transition into retirement.
On her crucial knowledge of the often-overlooked commercial side of her profession, she said: “Looking back, I was very fortunate to pick up what I did early on. When I went to university, I joined a company that looked after sports people like David Gower and Gary Lineker, and they gave me a lot of very good advice with regard to setting up pensions, making investments and approaching sponsorship agreements.
“They taught me firstly that my career would not be a typical one – that it started when I was a teenager, but would finish sooner, and that I had to start planning to support myself later on. I was lucky to have that advice.
“That guidance also served me well for things like media training – to be taught to present yourself well. To be a young athlete and get thrown in front of the cameras is very overwhelming and I was naturally quite shy. I had to learn to overcome things like that.
“In terms of understanding myself as a business, on the one side I grasped it very quickly. I knew that in terms of the sponsorship revenue I was earning, it essentially wasn’t my money. It was money to be invested in the business that was me and my training. It was paying for altitude training, for my coach – it wasn’t just a cheque from a sponsor that was mine to spend. I understood very quickly that it was about investing that into better returns.”
As well as an early realisation that personal endorsements served as a purpose to improve her prospects, Radcliffe knew that any commercial success would require more than just impressive on-track results, and that brands sought true value for money when taking her on board.
She added: “It’s important also that athletes understand that sport sponsorship is a two-way business agreement. When a company sponsors you, they’re a business and they expect things from you in order to keep paying you.
“It’s not just based on results, it’s based on a lot of other things. So, if you’re not performing, there’s a reasoning if and when it comes to getting cut by a brand. Sponsors are not charities, they’re businesses. It’s a two-way street, and if you’re not giving them what they need, they’ll pull out in the same way they would other investments.
“That took some time for some sports to understand. The IAAF, for example, when it went through its crisis, lost sponsors because it wasn’t giving a return. Everyone has to market themselves and give a return in order to expect to get something from it.”
To hear more on Paula Radcliffe’s experiences in the competitive world of sports business, listen to The Winning Formula Episode 1 on Spotify, Apple, Google and other podcast providers. Don’t forget to rate, share and leave a review as we begin our venture into the podcast world!