Last week Simon and I were fortunate to attend and speak at the Outdoor Industries Association AGM and Conference in Harrogate. We did a workshop with a large number of delegates titled ‘Stories are Everywhere’ on the power of storytelling in the age of social media. If you would like to download a copy of our Guide to Storytelling click here.

We’ve been to many of these events over the years and it’s easy to become cynical about can be seen as little more than formulaic jollies. But congratulations should go to Andrew Denton of the OIA and the team at MCS for organising a really good event.

We feel it was worthwhile for a number of reasons:

  • Passion and knowledge – as well as Andrew Denton there were fantastic sessions from Jerry Gore and Bernd Kullmann, both fantastic climbers with a huge amount of experience of the sport and industry. They spoke with an unrivalled knowledge and passion that set a great tone for the whole event.
  • A real sense of purpose – the talk by Sport England’s Jennie Price was our highlight. She spoke very eloquently about the government’s new approach to sport and the ability of the industry to affect real change. Andrew backed this up speaking very strongly about both the responsibility to get more people active and the opportunity that presents for everyone in the longer term.
  • Practical lessons to take away – it wasn’t all theory and beautiful shots of mountains. All of the workshops gave delegates ideas to take back to their businesses. In our workshop we did a number of exercises designed to help people see how they could start storytelling to differentiate their businesses and connect with customers.
  • It wasn’t all work and no play – as well as the networking sessions we had the opportunity to relax, get some fresh air and enjoy the Yorkshire countryside with various activities including a muddy trail run and tour of Harrogate’s parkruns courtesy of parkrun MD Tom Williams.

The key thing we took away from two days in Harrogate though was the vital importance of groups like the OIA to support industry and be the drivers of real change in the form of increased activity. Too many sports lack this kind of independent leadership that helps businesses set aside their competition for a while to focus on critical issues and galvanise them around solutions for the common good.

If you want to find out more about the OIA take a look at their website.

To help get more people to get active outdoors get involved in Britain on Foot.

You can also download our Guide to Storytelling, and get in touch if you want to talk to us further.


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