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Army Rugby Union Elevates Its Brand and Expands Its Reach with PhotoShelter

ARU crafts a real-time workflow and a winning brand for its lean creative team.

Founded in 1906, the Army Rugby Union (ARU) provides an infrastructure for the playing of rugby union within the British Army. ARU is part of Army Sport (formerly known as the Army Sport Control Board), whose mission is to improve the physical fitness, mental resilience, leadership, teamwork, recruiting, and retention of soldiers in the British Army. ARU uses top-quality photography through its partner Alligin UK to showcase match highlights and put the organization’s best foot forward to the public.

“Life’s busy. You want to work smarter, not harder. PhotoShelter makes it really easy to do that.”

Kimberley Fowke, Director of Communications, Army Rugby Union

The Challenge: Building a Professional Brand on a Tight Budget

While we all wish we had limitless resources — time, money, expertise — the reality is often different. Though operating at a near-professional level, ARU has a small operating team with only a handful of full-time employees, and its budget reflects its size. That means Director of Communications Kimberley Fowke often has to do more with less.

Kimberley began working for ARU in 2008, and in those early days, she said the team’s process for working with photographers was time-consuming. Photographers would give ARU physical discs with photos stored on them, so if she wanted a particular image, she’d have to manually flip through folders of discs to find the right one. Getting images from photographers and onto the website or social media was no easy task, which meant establishing a high-quality brand online was all but impossible.

The Solution: A Winning Workflow for a Lean Creative Team

A well-chosen photography collaboration changed the game for ARU. Its preferred photography partner, Alligin UK, began using PhotoShelter in 2017 and created a dedicated library for its ARU photos. Quickly realizing the benefits of PhotoShelter’s real-time workflows, Alligin UK Director (and former member of the Royal Navy) Geraint Ashton Jones created a workflow that would get images from the rugby pitch to ARU Director of Communications Kimberley Fowke as quickly as possible. During matches, FTP connections help photographers upload images straight from their cameras into the proper PhotoShelter gallery in seconds.

“The biggest selling point of PhotoShelter is that it is genuinely intuitive. It’s easy to use, and it’s truly collaborative.”

Geraint Ashton Jones, Director, Alligin UK

Taking the platform’s capabilities a step further, Kimberley also makes heavy use of PhotoShelter’s Canva integration, which allows her to access ARU’s photos in Canva and quickly create social-media-ready designs with templates she has previously created. For an organization that’s operating with a tiny staff and limited resources, ARU is still able to put out professional-looking branded content with the help of PhotoShelter and its integrations.

“What we’ve worked on over the last few years using PhotoShelter is our ability to put out content in real time. It’s enabled us to up our game in our social media.”

Kimberley Fowke, Director of Communications, ARU

Though Kimberley wishes she could always have a photographer on the pitch to take photos during ARU matches, budget constraints sometimes make that goal unachievable. Luckily, having access to the PhotoShelter galleries that Alligin UK has created for ARU means that it’s easy to find relevant archived images of specific teams and players. With its PhotoShelter library, ARU can tell a visual story about a match even when real-time photos aren’t available.

The workflow that ARU and Alligin UK have achieved with PhotoShelter does more than save time; it also helps Kimberley get photos to important stakeholders. Sponsors want to see their company names and advertisements captured during big matches, and ARU players want to see their iconic match-day shots so they can share them on their own social media. PhotoShelter empowers Kimberley to distribute those images quickly, which helps expand ARU’s reach beyond its owned media channels and maximize the use of the photos being captured without spending any extra budget.

The beauty of using PhotoShelter for digital asset management is that brands and photographers can easily create mutually beneficial partnerships like the one between ARU and Alligin UK. By perfecting the PhotoShelter workflow with ARU, Alligin UK has expanded its relationship to include other British Army Sport organizations and helped them do what ARU has to enhance its brand and improve its creative workflows.

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