The PR and marketing of Hungarian Fencing: what needs to be done, and our strategy for the future






















     Budapest, December 2006.







I.          Fencing’s Past
1.         Hungary’s Sport of Success

2.         The beginnings of our PR Activity





II.         PR goals for Hungarian Fencing
1.         Creation of internal communications
2.         External Communications
3.         Sponsors
4.         International competitions held in Hungary
5.         Domestic competitions
6.         Exposure in the media
7.         Promotional and explanatory films



III.        A vision for the future of the PR for Hungarian Fencing
1.         Growing Media Presence
2.         Building up Fencing as a Leisure Activity
3.         „Conquering” Educational Institutions
4.         Sponsors
5.         Increasing the number of competitors, development of future talent.
























I.                                             Fencing’s Past

1. Hungary’s Sport of Success

• Tradition, success, elegance and transparancy characterise the more than hundred-year history of the sport in Hungary.

• Hungarian fencing is united under the banner of, and controlled by the 93-year old Hungarian Fencing Federation.

• Fencing is Hungary’s most successful Olympic sport; Hungarian fencers have taken part in 21 Olympic Games, garnering 34 gold medals.

• Hungary has great expectation of its fencers, which are not always easy to meet.

2. The beginnings of our PR activity

• It was a serious problem that, although our fencers were heaping victory upon victory, these were not coming to the attention of the public. We did not have the channels of communication to enable to the media to keep up to date with the latest events and results.


·        This lack of information made attracting sponsors to support Hungarian fencing almost impossible, while the need to attract sponsorship grew increasingly due to financial difficulties.

·        The real breakthrough in PR came in late 2005, when the Hungarian Fencing Federation accepted that communications and marketing must now come into their sphere of operation, and appointed a dedicated member of staff to oversee these areas.




II.         PR goals for Hungarian Fencing

            1.         Creation of internal communications


·        The first and most important task is the organisation of internal communications. While this is lacking, we have no news or information to communicate to the press or public. Team Captains and Heads of Specialist Departments must be briefed to pass on news about their competitors and their accomplishments. 

Flow of Information:

Organisational Principle

(what fits our marketing strategy)



























                        To date, we have:


·        Achieved great progress in this field, and most people have acknowledged the importance of PR and its possibilities and power.

·        Information coming in to the Federation on all available channels ( by e-mail, telephone, text message and fax).

·        The incoming information is filtered and classified according to our organising principles.



2.         External Communications

·        In order for it to be useful, we have to get the information we receive to its ultimate recipients by the appropriate channels.


·        Our website ( must be refreshed in such a way that visitors always receive the day’s fresh news and information, and the site itself needs to be user-friendly and logical. In order for this to happen, the website needed to be updated both in terms of its appearance and in terms of its internal structure.

·        We had to create a media database that contained the contact details of all the important domestic media outlets. With the help of this database, we can communicate fresh news quickly and easily to to the media, and via them, to the public.


·        We must make the ladies and gentlemen of the press feel welcome at our more important Press Conferences, creating an opportunity for dialogue with them. The Press Conferences shoudl be hosted at the Gundel Restaurant, one of Hungary’s best-known, whose atmosphere, elegance and finish all go hand in hand with the values of fencing.

To date:


·        Having made the changes to the website, the visitor statistics accurately reflect the importance of the changes we have made (instead of 200-300 hits a day previously, we now have between 1,000 and 1,500).

·        The results are palpable; with a minimum of financial investment, the number of views of the website has increased by several times.

·        People are talking about fencing more, which has a very positive influence on our media value and popularity.

·        We have developed very good relationships with the media, who are happy to help Hungarian Fencing.


3.         Sponsors



·        Before we began our PR acitivity, there was in point of fact an almost complete absence of sponsors.

·        The only sponsors with a presence were fencing-specific sponsors, who spent only small amounts on Hungarian fencing.

·        One of the determining factors in attracting sponsorship is the success of the sport. In this, fencing does not face significant problems, being one of Hungary’s most successful sports.

·        Besides the need for successes, it is very important that our achievements get wide publicity and moreover it is important to make sure that a given sponsor’s name also appears in our press releases. This is the most difficult aspect, since this mostly comes under the heading of advertising, which requires financial expenditure.

·        Among the first things we must do is prepare a PR and marketing plan, since we can only bring in sponsorship if the sponsor can see measurable and palpable exposure in return for their financial support.

·        With this basic principle in mind, we have to create a plan that includes the main opportunities for exposure that fencing can present to sponsors.

·        The contracts we make with sponsors must be based on clear and mutual benefits, and must also contain the responsibilities of both parties.

·        In order to achieve the required number of exposure opportunities, we must create the following important elements: message board, sponsor’s board, a new and elegant facade, headed letter paper, sponsorship booklet...

·        In order to satisfy the needs of our sponsors, we must measure and record the exposure the sponsors are getting. In order to do this, we must use an independent media agency.


To date:


·        In most cases, the sponsor’s name appears with the publicisation of our results and news.


·        We have brought into being a list containing all the opportunities for sponsorship exposure.


·        Our contracts with our partners are correct and businesslike.


·        We now have a new message board, sponsor’s board, elegant facade, headed letter paper, sponsorship booklet.

·        We note and record sponsorship exposure.



4.         International competitions held in Hungary.


·        The Hungarian Fencing Federation is responsible for organising five international competitions to be held in Hungary in the next competition season, for which it needs name sponsors.
- The Heracles Junior competition for six weapons.
- Women’s Saber Grand Prix;
- Gerevich-Kovács-Kárpáti Foil World Cup;
- Women’s Foil Grand Prix;
- Women’s Saber BEK and World Cup.


·        We must hold press conferences before the competitions, at which we must create the opportunity to inform the members of the press fully.


·        We must execute our contractual obligations towards our sponsors by fulfilling the terms of our contracts with them (deploying advertising stands and adverts) in the interests of our long-term relationship with our sponsors. 


·        We must promote the competitions in a suitable way to drum up more of a spectatorship, raising our media worth.


·        We must find a way of communicating the live scores on the website, in order ot enable both the public and the media to have blow-by-blow access to the results.



To date:

·        We have found name sponsors for all our competitions.

·        We have been able to significantly increase our sponsorship income:

·        Most of our selected competitors also have sponsorship while training.

·        Every one of the competitions mentioned was preceded by a press conference, to which representatives of all the important media outlets were invited.

·        Our sponsors were promoted at the site of the competition with advertising displays and flyers.

·        In order to attract more spectators, we published special advertisements and organised smaller advertising campaigns.

·        There were qualified MCs at each of the competitions to inform and entertain the audience, with games and competitions.

·        The poster campaign preceding the Men’s Foil VK deserves special mention. We displayed 550 City Light posters to publicise the competition, which will be visible for two months. 

·        Hungarian Television has undertaken to broadcast three of the five competition finals in the next year, which represents a very significant step forward. 


·        At two of the competitions, we used large display screens to keep the spectators informed of the results, broadcast interviews and show the sponsor’s promotional video.

·        During the entire period of the competitions, the Federation’s website had the results on-line.

Our promotional poster for one of the competitions:



5.         Domestic competitions


·        The Special Departments and clubs belonging to the Hungarian Fencing Federation together organised dozens of preliminary heats and qualifying competitions.

·        We have to create a unified ranking list that would allow everyone concerned to be informed within days of each competition of their standing in the rankings.

·        One of the most important goals of these competitions is to expand the fanbase of the sport, especially allowing younger people to get involved.

·        We need to create a domestic competition series that would place epee fencing on new foundations, ensuring its long-term success. This competition cycle must be nation-wide. We must get the support of notable figures for these programmes; they should then be extended to both sabre and foil fencing.

To date:


·        The establishment of the Olimpici Epee Grand Prix domestic series of competitions can be viewed as a great step forward. Olimpici was created in order to place the future of Hungarian epee fencing on new foundations and give it new directions for development. The target age-group is 10-14 year-old children, who can use the skills obtained in their fencing training to good effect in everyday life.We are filling out fencing’s character-building and team-spirit building ethos which encourages children towards living a healthy lifestyle. One of the main goals of our programme is to get families involved in fencing. We’ve planned the competition series so that it covers the whole country. Our motto is: ’because fencing’s worth it’. We were able to bring on board as patron of the programme Dr. Szili Katalin, the Leader of Parliament and  Dr. Scmitt Pál, president of the Hungarian Olympic Committee.



·        We  have created the unified rankings list, from which every interested party can inform themselves of the results within two days following each competition, and can check the current state of the rankings.





6.         Exposure in the media

·        We must put in place independent monitoring of the media exposure of each one of our events, using an independent media monitoring agency.


To date:


·        We have had exposure as detailed in the table below:










7.         Promotional and explanatory films



·        The number of spectators interested in our sport has declined since the ’80s. Contributing factors to this included the restriction of the basis of the sport and the inability of the Federation to provide effective PR. Fencing is divided into three different weapons, and understanding the rules of each is not as straightforward as in the case of ball games. The spectators at our competitions were seriously hampered by their incomplete understanding of the rules, impeding their enjoyment and understanding of the bouts. We have to create a film explaining the rules, which must be used before every competition, in order that interested spectators should understand what’s going on on the pistes.

·        In the course of preparing and executing this work, we must pay special attention to using subcontractors with specialist expertise in their fields.





To date:



·        Explanatory film:

The film is divided into three parts – one for each of the different weapons– and demosntrates in both words and imahes the foil, saber and epee and the rules pertaining to each. Thanks to each of the four-minute sections, spectators are given the opportunity to acquaint themselves fully with the rules of the sport, making what they then see in the competitions more enjoyable.


·        Promotional film:

At the beginning of this survey, we mentioned that we must do everything we can to get the media to pay as much attention as possible to us, to ensure our exposure in as many media outlets as possible. Our promotional film, modified to apply to each competition individually, will help with the promotion of individual domestic competitions, in that it will be available for TV broadcasters to use. The 10-second film represents the dynamism and vivacity of our sport by showing a lunge followed by a hit. MTV broadcast the  Westend Women’s Epee GP, the Gerevich-Kovács-Kárpáti Foil World Cup and the UniCredit Women’s Foil GP. We were able to use the promotional film in the build-up to all three.



III.                A vision for the future of the PR for Hungarian Fencing.



All of our future PR and marketing activity must work towards spreading the popularity of fencing and expanding the number of both competitors and spectators.


            1.         Growing Media Presence


·        Growing the number of guaranteed appearances in the media by forming media partnerships.

·        Guaranteeing a higher-profile presence for our sponsors by using paid advertisments.

·        Expanding TV coverage to all of our competitions.

·        The creation, in collaboration with our main sponsor of round-table discussions with the media at which the leaders and competitors of our sport discuss contemporary issues in Fencing.

·        The presentation of the lives of our successful fencers, so that the public should know them ’off piste’ as well as on.

·        If possible, every one of our competitions should be preceded by at least a small poster campaign.


2.         Building up Fencing as a Leisure Activity


·        Setting up fencing as a leisure activity that, with easily memorable rules and specially developed technological aids that could serve as an attention-grabbing attraction at various festivals and events.

·        This would give laymen a taste of fencing, which might encourage them to take up fencing, train, and compete.

·        Fencing could become more popular.

·        Our well-known fencers could train with interested laymen.


3.         „Conquering” Educational Institutions


·        Persuading schools to start offering fencing as an afternoon physical education activity.

·        Schools specialising in PE should also offer fencing.


4.         Sponsors

·        Growing our income from sponsorship and the marketing value of our current competitions.

5.         Increasing the number of competitors, development of future talent.

·        Reach more children and persuade them to take up fencing.

·        Increased numbers to choose from will give us increased freedom of choice in developing those individuals who will represent the future of Hungarian fencing over the coming decades, and allow us to choose the most promising candidates.