A couple of sports business blogs mentioned the “Expert Opinion” program that has been on the Big Ten Network over the last two weeks. The third episode airs tomorrow morning (9 a.m. and will re-air at 3 p.m. EDT) on BTN. This week’s episode discuss if athletes are prepared for life after college:
Spanier and the panelists debate salary inflation, ego inflation and entitlement among young all-stars, and whether universities prepare them enough for dealing with fame and fortune, or for other careers if they fall short of their dreams of making the big leagues.
Here is a one-minute preview on YouTube about the upcoming episode:
The Washington Times took a look at how college athletic programs continue to turn from the traditional media guide in favor of a more multimedia-friendly guide on their website.
Off in a side hallway at the ACC’s Football Kickoff last month sat one of the long-standing fixtures at preseason media events. Stacks of freshly printed media guides – 208 pages of high-stock paper each – were available, a tangible resource for all but one team in the conference.
That school was Maryland, with a stack of notes replacing a shiny book. The school discontinued printing media guides this year, a decision that saves the department $150,000, said Brian Ullmann, Maryland’s senior associate athletic director for external operations.
“We had been wanting to put some more resources into our multimedia stuff online for a while and had a tough time harnessing those resources in terms of finances and personnel,” Ullmann said. “Clearly, the way things are going, in a couple years nobody is going to do a media guide. If they do, they’ll be minor.”
It’s no surprise that Maryland has joined universities like Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Once a big college athletic department made the announcement that they were halting their production of print media guides, I expected others (but not all) to quickly follow suit.
There is a challenge trying to appease older fans and media members while trying to help the bottom line. It’s certainly nice to allow reporters and fans to view their guide online with player statistics updated after each game. However, it’s just not the same and doesn’t allow reporters to refer to a hard copy right in front of them without having to print out a page. It will certainly be interesting to see what media guides look like (if they even exist in print) in five years.
In Other College Athletic News:
- The Buffalo News discusses how athletic departments can use Twitter to manage their message.
- According to Editor & Publisher, the AP and Gannett have refused to sign SEC’s new credential policy. Dr. BS blogs about how it puts these two sides on a collision course.
After last week’s flurry of news regarding Twitter and the NFL as well as ESPN, SEC made headlines this week when it announced its new media policy, which you can view by downloading it here.
Rocky Top Talk, a Tennessee Volunteers football blog, has a great recap of the main points in the policy and how exactly it affects media members, bloggers, and the fans. For example, the SEC uses the policy to limit game highlights shown on TV (outside of rightsholders) to just the first 72 hours. This policy will also presumably prevent fans from uploading highlights to YouTube. It also means that ticket holders cannot tweet about the game, take pictures, or text/call their friends about what’s happening.
Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News reports that 35-40 media outlets have already complained about the policy since it was released late last week. Bloggers like Clay Travis at AOL’s Fanhouse are unhappy to say the least with the development. As such, the SEC will tweak their recently released new media policy.
“I’m confident there will be some changes to the policy,” SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom said. “I don’t know how in-depth they will be. I think there will be some changes within the next 24 to 48 hours. It’s got to be soon because the season is almost here.” …
“Within probably 24 to 36 hours after we sent out the policy, we started getting calls and questions,” Bloom said. “We went back to our legal counsel and we were told there is a window where we could tweak the policy.”
The Eye on Sports Media e-mailed Bloom about what might be revised in the policy and he responded by saying:
“The section of the policy as it relates to full-time, salaried employees is one that will likely get cut. As you can imagine, we are also dealing with student media as well and that would not go over very well with journalism professors on our campuses.”
But as Matt Hinton of Dr. Saturday points out, it sounds like the video aspect of the policy will remain the same.
Why did the SEC schools agree to this new media policy?
By now, you’ve probably heard about Twitter sometime over this week for one reason or another. Earlier this week, the social networking website made headlines when ESPN announced its social networking policy. On top of that, 12 NFL teams banned the use of Twitter by its media members during practice while most teams banned their players from using it. On Thursday, the website went down for hours due to a denial of server attack. This lengthy post has a rundown of all the Twitter-related sport news from this week with my opinions mixed throughout.
NFL & Twitter
When I started using Twitter last September, I took note of the number of athletes and professional teams using the social networking platform. The NFL had the fewest representatives on Twitter, but there was only a total of about 35 athletes or teams using it at the time. Today almost every pro team has an account, but the level of use varies from organization to organization.
Some people herald Twitter and other social networking websites as the answer to marketing the organization. It’s the end all be all for these people. I disagree. I believe Twitter and Facebook can be great assets for teams and athletes as they look to engage their fans. These websites are great places to hold contests, offer unique content and information, and provide the fans another way to connect with the team. Below are some examples and articles of teams and athletes effectively using Twitter:
- New York Jets embracing Twitter (SportsBiz with Darren Rovell)
- Washington Red Skins Trent Shelton is an inspirational tweeter (Eye on Sports Media)
- Shaquille O’Neal was on Twitter while eating at a diner and met some fans there thanks to Twitter. He also gave away two free tickets to a Phoenix Suns game to the first of his followers to tag him at a local mall.
- The Phoenix Suns hosted the first ever NBA tweetup where twitterers, who are also Suns fans, got to meet Shaq and the team’s GM after a game.
Until this past week, we haven’t heard many teams address the negative sides of these sites. We finally heard coaches and management express concerns over the use of Twitter and other websites. What are they concerned about?
An article written by Richard Deitsch in the July 6 issue of Sports Illustrated talked about the annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp. To briefly summarize the camp, it’s a four-day initiative that takes 24 current and former players through a range of broadcasting seminars to prepare them for a career after football. SI says that these seminars range from “studio analysis to field reporting to radio hosting as well as taping segments on camera.
While this boot camp is media training — it’s not the kind of media training that you most commonly associate with PR (e.g. how to answer interview questions). Even so, the athletes may now have a better appreciation for what it takes to make it as a member of the media. It was an interesting look at how players are looking ahead to a new career and should be quite beneficial for those starting off young like Maurice Jones-Drew. The 24-year-old was one of the youngest campers this year.
“I don’t want to be one of the guys retiring and then coming back out of retirement,” he said. “I want to find the next best thing to playing.”
To learn more about the program, you can download the 2009 program application or read an article about the broadcast combine in the NY Daily News. The Philadelphia Daily News also has a nearly five-minute long video online about the experience, which you can view below.
Image Credit: NorthofAuckland
In 2007, David Beckham signed with LA Galaxy and was immediately heralded as the MLS savior by many. Two years later, the soccer star returned to America after going on a five-month loan to AC Milan. He played on the road against the New York Red Bulls in front of 23,238 fans, who apparently booed him at his every touch. In the past two seasons, Beckham helped attract 45,000+ fans in his two appearances at the Meadowlands.
Beckham tried to extend his loan with AC Milan and let’s just say that wasn’t a great PR move in the eyes of MLS soccer fans or at least opposing team’s fans. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl also recently published a book entitled The Beckham Experiment and the publicity blitz doesn’t help Beckham’s image.
What do you think Beckham can do to improve his image after the stint in Italy? I think he just needs to show that he truly is committed to growing soccer here in the U.S. and building the MLS. His wavering commitment doesn’t do much to help his image — one minute he says he wants to go back to Milan right now and the next it’s that he is committed to helping the MLS.
Someone asked Beckham, who has missed half of the Galaxy’s M.L.S. games the previous two seasons and the first 17 this year, if he might be spreading himself too thin — with commitments to different teams and public-relations appearances. Had he lost sight of the source of his blessings, soccer?
“My career and my whole life has been about soccer,” he said. “Nothing else. Yeah, I have the advertising and the appearances, but not once in my whole 17-year career have I let anything get in the way. So not once have I stepped out of that zone of my first job as a soccer player. Nothing else.”
Some may be concerned that the public appearances may distract Beckham from his game, but if he truly does mean to stay in the U.S. (and I personally doubt that) he must continue to reach out to the American public and help bring back those fans that had attended MLS games two years ago. While he can’t lose sight of his play, he needs to continue those appearances.
Image Credit: ArtBrom
The Washington Capitals will host their inaugural Capitals Convention this September to kick off the 2009-10 NHL season. Over the past few years, I have really admired the efforts of Washington’s PR and marketing departments for their innovative ideas including the fantasy hockey camp for media members and this convention is just another example of why I do. While a fan convention is becoming more commonplace each year, the Capitals hope to make their convention stand out from the other fanfests.
Some of their convention activities will include:
- Interactive games including “hockey breakout sessions where you can learn skills first-hand.” I volunteered at the Chicago Blackhawks inaugural fan convention last summer and NHLer Jamal Mayers helped some youngsters with their shooting accuracy in one of these games.
- Autograph and photo opportunities with current Capitals and alumni players
- Panel sessions including a kids only press conference, radio and TV personalities (local media will discuss how they cover the Capitals and the different story lines surrounding the team), covering the Caps (where fans will get a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to be a reporter covering the Caps), and much more. Fans will even be able to vote online for what other sessions they want to see.
- Equipment sale
- A display of the NHL trophies awarded to Caps players this past season
One of the blogs covering the Capitals, On Frozen Blog, has an inside look at the upcoming convention.
Reaction to the announcement last week of Capitals Convention I was thoroughly positive: the team sold 1,000 tickets to it in the first 48 hours, and all 100 ‘Golden Tickets’ — the $350 premium ducats that afford purchasers “fast-pass” access to autographs and priority seating for all breakout sessions — are gone. The Gaylord and its 75,000 square-foot ballroom can accommodate 5,000 conventioneers, and the team hopes to sell nearly that many tickets. The club did consider the D.C. Convention Center, which is certainly large enough, but that facility doesn’t offer the breakout rooms that the Caps feel are a real showcase aspect of this convention.
Capitals Convention will not be a money-making venture at a 4,000-5,000 level of patronage, McDermott claimed: the team will spend at least $300,000 organizing the convention, and when you run the admission numbers ($40 for adults, $25 for kids), it simply can’t be a cash cow for the club.
With the recent success of Chicago’s convention and it looks like the Caps one will be a big hit too, I wonder how many more NHL teams will start hosting their own conventions in the next year or so.
The Atlanta Hawks are looking for a media relations intern for the upcoming season, kicking off this fall. If you would like to apply or want more information, please visit this website.
Hawks Media Relations Intern (Part-time)
Responsibilities and Duties:
· Service the media through e-mails and phone calls
· Compile Hawks clips from various media sources to provide to visiting media members
· Prepare press credentials for visiting media members, and deliver credentials and press packets to area hotels
· Answer fan mail
· Experience working in a sports media relations department or college sports information department preferred
· Knowledge of the sport of basketball, the NBA and its players
· Strong written communication and people skills
· Must demonstrate a willingness to learn
· Proficient in MS Office
A new marketing campaign for the Florida Panthers kicks off today, but you may have already heard about it because the viral campaign began last week. The Panthers teamed up with agent Drew Rosenhaus, who will negotiate lower ticket prices on behalf of Florida’s fans. The organization’s director of public relations Matt Sacco discussed with Yahoo! Sports what the marketing campaign will include.
“Drew is working with us, and the premise of the marketing campaign is that he has been hired by Panthers fans to renegotiate season-ticket pricing with the club,” he said. “He was here yesterday to film two TV commercials and a couple of radio spots, and be involved in a couple of print ads. The campaign is launching next Tuesday, but we’re starting it now virally.”
After looking at his schedule and talking to the NFLPA, Rosenhaus agreed to participate. The campaign will result in some positive PR for Rosenhaus as his proceeds will go to the Diabetes Research Foundation. In the press release announcing the campaign, Rosenhaus stated the following:
“As a longtime Panthers fan and a person who believes in giving sports fans the value and the atmosphere they deserve, I am absolutely thrilled to represent the Cats faithful at the bargaining table,” Rosenhaus said. “That said, this a unique situation for me to represent the fans as opposed to professional athletes. But as a passionate Cats follower, I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the BankAtlantic Center faithful.
How have fans and the media reacted to this campaign?
Sports Business Daily acknowledges the campaign as a smart PR move, citing comments made on ESPN’s ESPN Radio’s Mike [Greenberg] & Mike [Golic] in the Morning show.
Greenberg: “He acknowledges sort of that he’s doing the whole thing with a smile on his face. But at its core this is what I’ve been talking about for as long as we’ve been doing this show. Fans need to organize, they need a leader.” Greenberg added, ”Would any of us have taken note of whether or not the Panthers adjust their prices for this coming season? Of course not. Will we now? … Heck yes! You’re going to know, I’m going to know, the whole country’s going to know because people now are going to follow this.” ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic added, “It’s a smart move” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 7/1).
The Litter Box, a Florida Panthers blog, had this to say on June 30:
You’ve got to love this. Really shows a positive, aggressive (dare we say cutting-edge?) attitude that hasn’t been present with the organization in a long, long while.
It hasn’t been owned up to by the team as a tool, but what a wonderful marketing campaign idea that has attracted tons of attention…and it hasn’t even been officially rolled out.
Yahoo! Sports premiere hockey blog, Puck Daddy, describes it as “an ingenious bit of viral marketing” and conducted interviews with Rosenhaus and the Panthers to learn more about the campaign.
On the other side, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel isn’t that impressed with the campaign.
It’s not real, of course. It’s a marketing ploy. But it’s not just any ploy. It’s the kind that tells you the Panthers have given up. They’re not going to play pretend anymore. They’re letting you in on the joke.
They’re really saying: “We know we don’t have a team to market, or any players you’re interested in watching and no one wants to pay our ticket prices anymore, so let’s push the humor to the outer edges so our fans get a chuckle even if they don’t really understand it.”
Here is the first of many YouTube videos depicting the negotiations:
The organization isn’t afraid to try something new as it fights for recognition in the south Florida market. The Panthers started a First Timer program where they gave away two free tickets to each person with a Florida driver’s license who has never attended a game back in October 2008. In February, they formed an alliance with the New Jersey Nets in the Snowbird Ticket Exchange. The partnership allowed season-ticketholders of both teams to attend the other team’s games should they travel to the other city.
What do you think of the Panthers’ campaign? Hit or miss?
Personally, I think it’s an innovative concept to get fans and the media talking. However, fans just want to see a better team on the ice and until the Panthers can do that, I don’t see a whole lot changing in terms of season ticket sales.
Earlier this week, ESPN announced that it will launch a new website dedicated to covering Chicago sports. The sport media empire decided that it wanted to start targeting sports fans in specific markets and what better city to start with than Chicago. ESPNChicago.com will be the first of these local sports sites, but ESPN is hoping that it won’t be the last.
“We already have a user base with millions of people coming to [ESPN.com] looking for Chicago sports,” Horine said. “At its core, the mission is simple: to super-serve Chicago sports fans.”
In addition to sports news, the site will have social-networking aspects, a travel partnership and even a way to organize your local softball team.
And like the cable channel, ESPN Chicago will feature its own “SportsCenter”-style newscast with a three- to five-minute highlight reel of the day’s top stories. It will have original content and include breaking news, provided by Chicago’s WLS-Ch. 7. The ABC affiliate and ESPN are both owned by The Walt Disney Co.
ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski, a former Chicago Tribune sportswriter, will write for the site. Other ESPN contributors will write for the Chicago site, as will ESPN 1000 radio personalities Tom Waddle and Bruce Levine.
To be honest, I guess I’m surprised that this is the first time a major media outlet has created a website solely dedicated to a single region’s sports coverage. The Huffington Post created a Chicago local site last summer with blog posts and aggregated news feeds of stories central to the area. MillerCoors will be the charter advertiser for the ESPN Chicago website to get it up and running. It will certainly be interesting to see how users are attracted to the website and if it becomes a popular go-to website for Chicago sports fans.