42 Days and Counting: IHF misses the boat on self promotion and new media

There are only so many hours in a day and with a full time job, family commitments and sleep requirements many, many worthy Handball related stories never make it to our website. Still with help from Bogdan and Christer we still manage to publish something newsworthy if not every day, almost every other day. Not bad for a bunch of volunteers who are paid nothing but do take gratification in the opportunity to share their passion for the sport.

Most official Handball websites also do a pretty good job of reporting on the sport. The European Handball, USA, British and Australian sites can be cited as good examples even if I did chastise some of those sites a while back for straying into areas that I don’t think they should cover or under reporting/ignoring negative news concerning their organizations. http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.787

Then, there is the International Handball Federation (IHF) which has posted [b]nothing (nada, zippo, zilcho)[/b] on their website www.ihf.info since August 19. Yes, for 42 days straight days and the entire month of September there has been nothing happening in the Handball world worthy of mention. On its face, this is absolutely amazing and a shockingly vivid example of the incredible lack of vision the current IHF leadership has. Sure, there’s a lot more to running a Federation than updating a website, but you just have to wonder where the IHF is spending its money and channeling its resources if it can’t update its website for 42 straight days.

In the 21st century your company/federation website is the most visible and accessible window to the world. It’s your platform to spread your message and develop and broaden your customer base. All businesses now understand that reality and a quick survey indicates that most Federations do as well. Take a quick tour of these other International Federation websites and see for yourself:

Rugby: http://www.irb.com/
Basketball: http://www.fiba.com/
Ice Hockey: http://www.iihf.com/
Volleyball: http://www.fivb.org/

For a sport that bills itself as the worlds 2nd most popular in the world after soccer (inaccurately, in my opinion: http://teamhandball.blogspot.com/2005/07/just-how-popular-is-team-handball.html ), they clearly are behind these other team sports in terms of new media and marketing. I often point out rugby as an example of an example to follow and their website is yet another example of what could be done: Multiple stories, colorful graphics and audio and video content.

So how does this shortcoming get fixed? As I alluded, this problem starts at the top, but surely anyone in the hierarchical chain of the IHF should also take some responsibility. “Hey, I noticed we haven’t updated the website in a (week, 2 weeks, month) maybe we should post an article on ……” But as Christer Ahl rightly pointed out in a commentary this past August http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.812 the underlying problem is much deeper. The organization has no overarching guidance with clear objectives and goals. Here’s hoping that someone the IHF leadership chain recognizes this soon and perhaps an hour is spent at the next IHF council meeting discussing the website and new media options in the context of the IHF mission. Then clear guidance as to what should be done should filter down to the IHF staff.

Even better the IHF could engage a number of independent and official websites that cover handball for their input on what should be done. Working together as an informal team they could probably come up with a whole host of suggestions and possibilities. Just a thought. I’m not holding my breath.