I e-mailed five popular sports bloggers last week, asking them about their experiences with PR professionals for SPRB. The participants include Don of Hugging Harold Reynolds (HHR), Brian from MGoBlog, Jason at The Big Lead, Greg of Puck Daddy fame, and Natalie from Need4Sheed.
On average, how many pitches/press releases do you receive in a day? What percentage of those do you delete before you even open the e-mail?
Don @ HHR: We receive about a dozen business-based press release/solicitation-type emails. For the most part I will read ones that are from infrequent mailers. If there are names I recognize because I’ve received several from the group, and that I know the content doesn’t fit, I might delete right away, but for the most part I’ll at least take a quick peek.
Brian @ MGoBlog: From official PR people? Maybe three or four, the vast bulk from the Big Ten and Big Ten Network. My email is Thunderbird, which has a preview pane, so I at least briefly see the content before any deletions, but I know I’m deleting about 90% of them because they’re about other Big Ten schools. There are plenty more “here’s a link” or “please exchange links with me, Person I love blog of you forever hoorah.” Relevant seeming links get clicked; obviously automated link exchange requests get trashed.
Jason @ The Big Lead: Anywhere between 10-20, and that number goes up around the time of major events (Super Bowl, NFL Draft, NBA Draft, etc). I probably delete 75% of them unless a) It’s from someone I have a working relationship with, b) the subject line is really, really catchy/enticing.
Greg @ Puck Daddy: If you combine the daily pitches from bloggers and PR people, I’d say it ranges from 50-75 a day. If you take out the bloggers, I think the number of PR pitches is about 30-50.
I open everything that’s specific to my subject matter. If I don’t get the vibe in the subject line that the email is about hockey or my areas of coverage, then it’s deleted.
Natalie @ Need4Sheed: Maybe it’s because of the popularity of the site, but I have started to get a ton of other pitches from the media, clothing companies, publishers, sports equipment companies and so on. Most of them are really basketball specific but I get a few here and there from other sports. I have to say most are right up my alley.
As part of our Sports Blogging 101 Series, I wanted to interview a web coordinator who blogged for the team. Ben Wright, the website coordinator for the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL), was more than willing to answer my questions for SPRB. You can visit the Thrashers’ official blog Blueland Blog to see what it’s all about. Without further ado, here is the interview:
1) You blogged about hockey as a fan before joining the organization as its website coordinator nearly four years ago. How did the opportunity with the Thrashers come about?
It’s a long and complicated story, but basically, I was living in Ottawa at the end of the lockout and trying to move to Atlanta, so I was keeping my eye open for jobs. I’d always wanted to work in sports marketing- especially in hockey- so when a web internship with the Thrashers was posted I applied. A guy from Atlanta that I’d met through blogging knew the hiring manager and got me an interview and another blogger acquaintance who I’d done some writing for (Eric McErlain) acted as a reference. The Thrashers were looking for somebody with blogging experience and hockey knowledge so it worked out perfectly. A few immigration snags later I was down in Atlanta and in the Thrashers locker room interviewing Scott Mellanby at training camp. It was pretty surreal. The internship turned into a full-time position and now I’m ready to start my fifth season with the team.
2) What responsibilities do you have as the website coordinator? How much interaction do you have with other departments in the organization?
As the web site coordinator I’m responsible for pretty much all of the content on the Thrashers site, as well as the administration of the Philips Arena site. I also chip in with the Hawks (NBA) site as needed. On a day-to-day basis the bulk of my time is spent coming up with content for the Thrashers site and blog and posting tidbits on Twitter. On game days I’m at morning skates and the games themselves, acting more or less as a reporter for the team. I have full access to the locker room after practices and morning skates and I cover about 75% of the home games, which I watch from the spacious Philips Arena press box. On occasion I’m fortunate enough to travel with the team and cover road games and events like the draft. I also handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts, web traffic reporting, and general housekeeping. As part of the marketing department I work closely with our e-marketing folks who handle all of our email marketing as well as our PR department who get me in touch with players in the offseason and do their best to keep me in the loop when trades and player signings are in the works. I also work with our ticketing department and sponsorship team to make sure all of our sales and sponsorship efforts are coordinated and on track.
Why should you care about sports blogs as a sports PR professional? Hopefully you will find that this post answers that very question. The answer varies from team to team or organization to organization, but every single sports PR pro should be reading the bloggers covering the team as they would the reporters on their beat. Yes, even if your team has no shortage of media coverage and a full press box night in and night out.
1. Your fans read blogs.
I don’t have specific statistics about sports fans to back up the above statement, but 48.5% of U.S. Internet users read blogs and that number is expected to increase to 58% by 2013 according to eMarketer.com. Based on personal experience, all of my friends into sports go online to read about their teams whether it’s a blog or online edition of the paper. Fans of your team who live out of its geographic region will also likely turn to the Internet for info because their local media will not provide content on the team.
You should care about sports blogs because your fans — the ones buying tickets and merchandise — read them and it may help form their opinion about your organization. If the blog covers your team in praise, that’s great publicity for you. But if the blogger criticizes your organization at every move, you’ll have their readers (and likely your fans) thinking negatively about you.
Teams want to know how their fans, particularly season ticket holders, view their organization. That’s why they’ll survey ticket holders, asking for their opinions on everything from ticket prices to in-game entertainment. I would never suggest to remove these surveys, but think of sports blogs (and yes, even message boards) as a way to view opinions of your team’s die-hard fans. Bloggers and message board users are certainly just one subset of your market, but they are very passionate about your team and eager to share their opinions. Plus, it won’t cost you anything to extract these opinions but time.
In mid-November, I ran a week-long series on sport and social media here at SPRB. This week, I’ll be talking about sports blogging from a PR perspective. We’ll kick off this series on Sunday by discussing why you should care about sports blogs.
Before I start talking about this topic, I wanted to provide my background on the subject. I have been blogging about Red Wings hockey since 2004 before blogs became the in thing to do. It was a hobby, but I tried to treat it as professionally as I could because I knew blogging was a reflection of me (not everyone can say the same).
My first hockey blog, Behind the Jersey, was named one of the top 10 NHL blogs by Sports Business Daily in 2007 and was linked to by USA Today, Detroit Free Press, and Wall Street Journal. I later joined SB Nation where I started Winging It In Motown (also about the Wings). It now gets links from Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports, and even NHL.com. In November 2008, I started blogging for the official Detroit Red Wings blog (Hockeytown Blog) and continue to maintain both that blog and WIM.
As you can see, I have done my fair share of blogging in the sports world. I am also someone who hopes to make a career in sports PR so I understand both sides of the coin, which is why I wanted to do this series on sports blogging from a PR perspective. I think there is plenty of misunderstanding from both sides of the argument and I hope that my series will enlighten the sports PR practitioners and sports bloggers who may read it.
Keep coming back to SPRB this week to read more about the following:
Monday — Interview with Ben Wright, the web site coordinator of the Atlanta Thrashers (and team blogger)
Thursday — Tips: How to monitor sports blogs
Friday — Tips: How to comment on blogs
Next Saturday — 25 sports blogs you should read
Next Sunday — Tips: Developing a blogger policy
And if you have any great reads on PR professionals reaching out to bloggers or blogging themselves, feel free to pass them along to me via e-mail or the comment section.