Rich Hammond will no longer cover the LA Kings for the Los Angeles Daily News. Instead, he will write for the team’s website LAKings.com. This is just another example of the trend we’re seeing as the newspaper industry struggles and reporters jump ship to the team side of things.
Hammond will continue his blog “Inside the Kings” at his new digs and will go about his business as normal. He will be an independent writer and have editorial control over his writings. None of his articles or blog entries will have to be signed off by anyone in the organization. Hammond will start writing exclusively for LAKings.com on October 1.
Hammond made the decision in part because it allowed him to actually go on the road and cover every Kings’ game. He had been limited to home games and practices over the past four years. He also was the Deputy Sports Editor at the Daily News and his new gig will allow him to focus solely on his beat.
The Kings obviously like this arrangement as they have a reputable beat reporter covering their team daily and generating content for their fans. LA struggled to get coverage when they went on road trips, sometimes asking freelancers to cover a game when the Kings played against the team in their area. Hammond’s presence will ensure that the Kings have at least someone covering every single game — home and away.
“In this changing world as it relates to the landscape and consumption of sports news content, we are making an organizational commitment to give our fans one place to go – LAKings.com – to satisfy their appetite for Kings news and information ” said Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille. “We feel this is a landmark step for us as Rich will have full editorial control in his new position. Kings fans deserve the best Kings coverage, and we’re excited that LAKings.com will be the new home for Rich’s insightful, objective and thorough reporting and analysis.”
I think this is a good move for the Kings, especially since they had struggled for coverage on the road. But what do you guys think? Share your opinion in the comment section.
For the first time on SPRB, we have an interview with someone who does PR in the auto racing industry. Ramsey Potson is today’s interviewee and as NASCAR’s corporate communications managing director, he has plenty of knowledge and experience regarding the PR industry.
1) How did you get your current position as NASCAR’s Managing Director of Corporate Communications? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
In 2001 was working at the public affairs firm of Powell Tate in Washington, DC when we were hired to assist NASCAR with the crisis surrounding the death of Dale Earnhardt. In 2003 I was hired fulltime as the Managing Director of Corporate Communications. My day-to-day role is to manage all aspect of the company’s communications including the on-track competition communications for all 11 NASCAR series; business communications; lifestyle communication and the issue management. The PR department consists of 31 employees that are divided up into five teams: Competition/Print; Broadcast; PR Services (which handles new media); Business; and, strategic writing. Each team is managed by a senior manager or director.
2) You personally have a Twitter account as does NASCAR. What is the upside of using Twitter both on a personal level and a league level? On the other hand, what are some concerns that NASCAR may have about Twitter and how are those issues being addressed?
Social media is the new frontier for the 21st Century – we’re all learning everyday about the impact of online media including Twitter, Facebook and other outlets. The immediate upside is that the traditional media outlets are no longer my only hope of getting out my message. I can now communicate directly with my audience without being filtered. This is an especially great tool for athletes – look at what Shaq and Lance Armstrong are doing; with the push of a single button they can instantaneously reach a million fans each. That’s power. That’s something that the news industry has to compete against.
The concern – like all things – is responsibility. Whether someone is talking to a reporter or tweeting, what is said has to be truthful and factual – we’ll all see examples of rumors and mis-information extended through the social media sites, it’s happening now. However, the other key word in this new media world will be credibility -everyone wants it but those sources that get the facts wrong will lose credibility and won’t have the kind of influence as those who get the stories right.
The Washington Nationals hosted their second Bloggers Day this season on Tuesday according to Sports Business Daily. The Nationals invited 16 bloggers to the event.
As The Washington Times notes, participants were able to interview the team’s interim manager Jim Riggleman, GM Mike Rizzo, team president Stan Kasten, and some of the players and other team personnel. Similar to the New York Islanders’ blog box, the bloggers watched the game from a bloggers suite. As mentioned in the article, all of the bloggers came with notebooks while some toted laptops and recording devices.
“They’re clearly a presence on the Web, which is clearly a presence in our lives,” said Kasten, who pays close attention to things written and said about his team. “They are out there doing things. I think we’re all better served when they have as much good information as they can have.”…
“I don’t know if we’ve gone too far or we haven’t gone far enough,” Kasten said. “All of us in sports are learning, feeling our way through these developments. A year ago we didn’t do things like this. A year from now we’ll probably have a better fix on what’s appropriate or what’s not appropriate. We’re trying to figure it out.”
Image Credit: Adamos Maximus
NASCAR announced the formation of Citizen Journalists Media Corps last month, but named the members of this group in a press release on July 17.
“We have been overwhelmed by the positive response since our initial announcement to form the NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corps last month,” said NASCAR managing director of corporate communications Ramsey Poston. “More voices speaking about NASCAR is good for the sport and is fan-friendly. We intend to make the most of the changing media landscape.”
So what exactly is the Citizen Journalists Media Corps? It’s a group of 28 sites that will have the opportunity to apply for media credentials in addition to access to NASCAR media teleconferences and their media website. NASCAR still views traditional media as “the cornerstone of NASCAR news and information,” but they understand that they need to have other forms of media to supplement the traditional media to satisfy fans’ thirst for information.
The members were decided through a “lengthy review process, which included evaluating independent Web sites on professionalism, reporting and commentary, and use of social networking tools.” As I discussed in my recent developing a blogger policy post, it’s important to thoroughly investigate blogs and websites before issuing a credential because not every blog/site is the same.
As members at the SportsJournalists.com forum pointed out, some of the site members are actually run by former journalists on the NASCAR beat. They were laid off due to the struggling newspaper industry and decided to start their own independent websites covering the sport. This move looks like NASCAR saw the number of traditional media members covering their sport shrinking and wanted to take the initiative to ensure fans could still get the coverage they wanted.
What I find ironic is for many years NASCAR wanted no part in dealing with many of these sites, nor were tracks interested in granting them credentials — mostly for reasons that dealt with their “legitimacy.”
So now, we are to understand to be granted access, these sites will be reviewed for their “professionalism, reporting and commentary and use of social networking tools.”
Does anyone believe that these sites have improved recently in these areas, which prompts their invitation? Or is it more likely NASCAR’s definition of “legitimacy” among media outlets has expanded in proportion to the empty seats in media centers?
What do you guys think of this move by NASCAR? I believe we’ll continue to see more and more bloggers in press boxes and media centers in minor leagues, NASCAR, NHL, and any league/team that is not getting the media coverage they want and have room in the press box to credential bloggers.
Today concludes our week-long Sports Blogging 101 Series by discussing how to create a blogger policy. Now when someone refers to “blogger policy,” they can be referring to one of two types of policies:
- A policy about how your organization reaches out to bloggers (pitches, sending out press releases, leaving blog comments, etc.)
- A policy that determines the credentialing process for bloggers
I pointed out an example for the first type back in my post about how to pitch to sports bloggers. It’s Ogilvy PR’s blogger outreach code of ethics post and I definitely recommend that you give it a read. But I want to focus today’s post on the second type of policy listed above.
Here’s a rough guideline on how to go about developing a blogger policy:
1. Look at your organization’s media coverage situation.
How many beat reporters does your team have who are writing almost daily? How often do national publications cover your organization? Do you have a full press box every home game? Are online outlets providing more coverage than what you’re getting in print publications? Do you have statistics showing you where most of your fans go to get news about the team?
2. Analyze the bloggers covering your organization.
How many are there? You can use my how to monitor blogs post to learn how to find these blogs if you are not already aware of them. I would also suggest trying to see how many blogs that cover general league news frequently talk about your team as they may be relevant to your policy as well.
What types of blogs cover your team? As I’ve mentioned before, there are three types of sports blogs in my opinion.
The first kind is newsy, journalist-like. They report news, follow a more factual bent, offer opinions on the subject, but don’t rock the boat.
The second type of sports blog is all about humor. They tend to be very popular blogs written in a snarky, witty prose. These types of bloggers are less likely to want credentials, but you can’t rule them out. While the bloggers may be professional bloggers in the sense that they make enough money to support themselves, they may not have a professional style of writing that would be ideal for your organization.
Finally, the third type of sports blogger is all about opinion — think of them like you would a sports columnist for a paper. They write in a more professional tone, but it’s heavy opinion and they will voice their thoughts whether it’s positive or not about your organization.
How many readers do these different blogs have? A blog may qualify as the first category of blogs listed above, but if it only gets 50 readers a day it might change how you’ll approach the blog. If there is a really popular blog that gets thousands or hundreds of thousands of readers per day but tends to be snarky in their writing, you still may be willing to overlook their writing style because of their online reach.
How involved and vocal are their readers? A blog that has its share of comments on every post shows an engaged community. Those are the types of blogs you want to reach because even if they aren’t the most popular blog out there, what they say will really have an impact on their readers.
In honor of the Sports Blogging 101 Series, I wanted to point out 25 great sports blogs that I have in my Google Reader. I have grouped them by categories: general sports, league/team-specific, sport media and sport business. There are obviously more than 25 great sports blogs online, but this is just a short list in no particular order to get you started. I tried to collect a wide range so that you would have a starting point no matter what organization or league you represent.
General Sport Blogs
1. The Big Lead
5. Sports Guy’s World (Bill Simmons — Page 2, ESPN.com)
7. From the Rink (NHL)
8. ProFootballTalk.com (NFL)
9. True Hoop (NBA)
10. Beyond the Boxscore (MLB)
Back in May, I wrote about a Golden State Warriors PR professional who had commented anonymously in a popular Warriors’ message board. As I stated then and continue to believe, sports PR professionals should always comment publicly because leaving anonymous comments can and will backfire like what happened in May with the Warriors. Today’s installment in the Sports Blogging 101 Series will address how to comment on sports blogs and message boards so that you can avoid occurrences like the example listed above.
This is what I had to say about the situation back in May:
If done properly, I have absolutely no problem with someone from a team’s PR department commenting on sport blog posts or message boards. However anonymous commenting never seems to be a good idea when it comes to this issue. If you don’t feel comfortable associating yourself and team with the comment, you probably should opt to forgo the comment altogether.
What to Avoid
- When you are commenting on a blog entry or a message board thread, please please do not type out a pitch or release right there. It’s a huge turnoff for bloggers and if they moderate comments, your comment will never make it past their scrutiny. Any pitch or press release that you want to get to the blogger needs to be e-mailed directly to them.
- If you can’t uncover their e-mail address, you can leave a comment asking for an e-mail address to reach them at and then offer your own address so they can contact you directly. Anything more than that and you will just annoy the blogger. Unfortunately some bloggers hold a bad stereotype for the PR profession and leaving a pitch in a comment will only further that stereotype so please avoid it at all costs.
- Try not to make the comment all about you — that goes back to sounding spammy and it’s just not a good idea.
The Sports Blogging 101 Series continues with a look at how to monitor sports blogs for PR practitioners. In today’s post, I’ll help you know where to find the blogs covering your team or writing about something relevant to your product/service. Once you know where to find these blogs, you can then start to monitor them. But first, why should you monitor sports blogs?
- You’ll know what one subset of your fanbase thinks about your organization. Think of it as free marketing research from a passionate section of your target demographic.
- Bloggers may just be one portion of your fanbase, but they are very influential members. Their opinions are read by hundreds or thousands of other fans so what they say carries plenty of weight.
- You may think that bloggers just talk about the on-ice, on-court, or on-field product, but they’ll actually discuss the organization’s marketing and PR decisions from the season’s slogan to in-game entertainment to ticket prices. These areas are of particular interest for PR pros.
- You’ll see if the blog is reporting incorrect rumors or “facts” that you may need to combat either publicly or by preparing the appropriate parties in your organization (coaching staff, management, players, etc.).
- You’ll better understand the bloggers covering your team. This will make it easier for you to pitch to them and start to develop a relationship with them. If there’s a chance that your team may start credentialing bloggers, it’s important to know what each blog talks about and which one(s) you can trust with a credential.
Before you start looking for the blogs covering your team, you need to figure out what type of blog do you want to find. Are you looking for just team blogs? Blogs that also have a league bent? Sports media or business blogs? Mainstream media blogs?
In Day Four of SPRB’s Sports Blogging 101 series, I wanted to address why you should blog personally and/or professionally. While I realize that blogging is not for everyone, I strongly encourage sports PR professionals to consider blogging on either a personal or professional level (or both).
Why start a personal blog?
- Builds your personal brand by demonstrating your knowledge and experiences regarding the topic
- Improves your writing (via DailyWritingTips)
- Helps you with your blogger outreach as a PR pro
- After blogging for at least a couple of weeks, you’ll start to understand the mindset of a blogger.
- You’ll see how much work it takes to craft a new post and what types of things the blogger has to do to promote his/her blog.
- Your personal experience will make your pitches to bloggers more effective because you’ll have a better idea of what they want.
- Plus, you’ll make new connections with bloggers and you never know when one may become beneficial for work.
- Improves your position in a Google search.
- If you are writing about the field you want to work in like sports marketing or sports PR, Google searches for those terms will lead to you.
- While you won’t be on the first page early on, your position in searches will improve the more you write and develop your blog.
- You want your name and personal brand to be heavily associated to the field you want to work in. For example, I hope to have my name (Christy Hammond) associated with sports PR because of my career aspirations. I hope this blog will help me in that pursuit.
Image Credit: kpwerker
On Twitter last week, I received a DM asking for any tips I had on how to pitch bloggers. Since I’m sure this is a topic more and more sports PR practitioners have to deal with, I wanted to discuss my response in depth on SPRB.
I e-mailed popular sports bloggers about PR professionals reaching out to bloggers and you can read what they had to say in an earlier post today. They said that they receive 3-75 press releases and/or PR e-mail pitches a day depending on the blog. That number doesn’t even account the number of e-mails they receive from readers and fellow bloggers. It’s safe to say that many sports bloggers are bombarded with pitches so to be effective, your pitch or release needs to be targeted, relevant, and unique to attract the attention of a sports blogger.
1. Be transparent.
Be upfront with who you are and who you work for. Lying will only make it seem like you’re trying to hide something. But in doing so, be brief. Don’t ramble on about who you are, but certainly don’t try to disguise it.
Do not tell bloggers to keep your relationship quiet, but encourage them to be transparent. If money is exchanged, this is particularly a big no-no (they need to mention this relationship then). As you need to be transparent while pitching, it’s important for the blogger to be transparent with their readers. If he or she opts to keep something quiet (when money or an exchange of products is not involved), that’s up to the blogger but it is not your place to require that.
2. Show that you’ve read the blog.
Don’t send out a mass e-mail to a bunch of sports bloggers because it likely won’t fit them all. One blogger may focus on statistical analysis regarding Detroit Tigers baseball while another blog talks Tigers news. The differences may seem subtle to you, but it means mass blanket pitches won’t work.
Scott Monty of The Social Media Marketing Blog further explains:
First of all, the reason I say a bad pitch is inevitable is simple: blogger outreach is not immediately scalable, so mass emailing is commonplace. But every blogger is different and needs to be personally courted. I’m not talking about a deep and abiding romance, but rather a simple relationship that is forged between PR executive and blogger, through genuine engagement and conversation between the two. It’s a matter of establishing a 1:1 relationship – of showing the blogger you understand his writing or that you care enough to respond to one of her posts.
And this is difficult to do when a PR professional – who, let’s face it, is used to mass mail-merging press releases and pitches – is trying to contact maybe 100 different bloggers. To spend a couple of weeks of lead time following, reading and responding is a major commitment. But I think it’s crucial.
Cater your pitch to that individual blogger after doing some research. Find a way to make a connection to them based on what you’ve read of their blog (and don’t just read the top two posts — go back awhile). A comment showing that you know what their blog is all about will help the blogger believe that your pitch may actually be a good fit for them.