Taking inspiration from this powerful statement by Pope Francis, the Pontifical Council of Culture - the institution which promotes cultural initiatives for the Vatican - conceptualized Sport at the Service of Humanity, an unprecedented event to converge the themes of Faith and Sport into one global conversation. The program was made possible by Allianz as Founding Partner alongside the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.

Kicked off on October 6th, 2016 with an evocative ceremony at the Vatican with Pope Francis’ participation, the event gathered hundreds of religious leaders and representatives from different faiths alongside sport personalities from all over the world for the very first time. The objective: to make a positive and concrete impact on society, focused on two human pillars - faith and sport.


Following the opening ceremony, two days of work sessions with leading speakers and panel discussions were organized. The sessions led to the development and unanimous agreement to live and act in accordance to the “Sport at the Service of Humanity Declaration of Principles” which include six guiding principles Compassion, Respect, Love, Enlightenment, Balance and Joy.

Indeed, the Pontifical Council for Culture developed an event that fostered a dialogue between two very different worlds but with many synergies, and helped focus on topics with a positive effect on humanity as a whole.


Edelman was challenged to communicate this unprecedented 48 hours event by sharing the event’s important messages, while at the same time highlighting the role of the Pontifical Council for Culture and other partners’ contribution to the event.
Edelman, as lead agency for content amplification, developed a strategy based on these steps: generating overall awareness of this unique event; promoting the six guiding principles across all media channels; helping to unify religion and sport around common values; identifying key storytelling moments and spokesperson visibility opportunities to help generate global media coverage; incentivizing social media sharing to further amplify the event’s reach worldwide.

Edelman took a multichannel media approach across PR, social and digital disciplines to challenge the traditional perception of communicating a “one off” event and help spark a truly sustainable movement. Coordination with the Vatican Press Office also had an important role in the alignment and sharing of key messages for all partners involved.


The program’s success included more than 300 pieces of coverage across TV, print, online, and radio from a wide range of countries. Press was not only generated on Catholic outlets but more importantly crossed boundaries through mainstream and sports media with feature stories appearing on the likes of ESPN TV, The Daily Mail, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Tass newswire and SKY TV. In fact, Edelman’s media targets included Rome-based international correspondents with a focus on USA/UK and Vatican beat journalists, as well as Italian and international mainstream and sports journalists.

Live tweeting from the conference also proved successful: the Sport at the Service of Humanity account generated more than 115,000 impressions, while #sport4humanity became a trending topic on twitter with more than one million user-generated engagement impressions.

Following the event, a survey request was sent to all Conference attendees to measure the impact of the movement. The results were certainly encouraging: 96% of respondents reported that the Conference met or exceeded expectations, 75% endorsed the Six Principles, 63% have/will share the Six Principles, and 89% agreed/strongly agreed that the Six Principles should become a standard to which sport, faith and other organizations should adhere.

Ultimately, the communications campaign received accolades both in Italy and abroad winning the Bulldog Reporter Award 2017 as “Best Education/Public Campaign” (Gold not assigned), an unplanned special mention at the 2017 InspiringPR – Ferpi Awards and finally the 2017 IPRA Golden Award as “Best Media Relations Agency.”