One of my frequent reads throughout the week is the fantastic blog Eye on Sports Media. Christopher Byrne, the man behind this great blog, is currently running through a series entitled “Sports Media Best Practices.” For those of you who enjoyed my Sports Blogging 101 Series here at SPRB, I think you’ll like this series at Eye on Sports Media as well.
So far the series has covered two topics: resizing images before using in a press release and avoid using images to convey important information. I’ve quickly highlighted a few key points below, but please check out those two posts for yourself and be sure to check back with Eye on Sports Media throughout the week for the latest blog posts in this series.
- By not resizing images in press releases e-mailed out to reporters, you will have to send a larger file and it will take longer for the e-mail to load. If that happens, the reporter may simply opt out and delete your release before taking the time to read it.
- How do you resize images properly? It is frequently understood that you can do so in Word, but as Christopher points out this does not actually resize the image. It shrinks the appearance of the image in the document, but the file size is still just as large. His post tells you how to actually shrink the file size.
- He also points out that sometimes organizations use images to display important information like addresses and other contact information in their releases and other documents. Not only does this increase the file size, but it also prevents VOIP users or iPhone users from simply clicking on the phone number to call right then and there. In addition, it prevents readers from copying and pasting this important info as it forces them to jot it down by hand which can lead to mistakes and it’s really just a hassle for them.
Do any of you have any other insightful suggestions when it comes to the design/display of e-mail press releases that you’d like to share with fellow SPRB readers?
The New York Times’ blog Media Decoder points out an interesting development: the Intelligent Information Lab at Northwestern University has created Stats Monkey, a system that uses an algorithm to generate a game recap story by simply using available stats and play-by-play.
Given information commonly available online about many games—the box score and the play-by-play—the system automatically generates the text of a story about that game that captures the overall dynamic of the game and highlights the key plays and key players. The story includes an appropriate headline and a photo of the most important player in the game.
The blog post includes an example and I was quite surprised to see how well a computer could describe a game. As the blogger pointed out, the lede was buried in the piece and it could always miss out an important development in the game because it just didn’t make the stat sheet.
Rich at the Idea Lab does not believe that machine generated news will act as a threat to journalists, but not all of his commenters agreed with him. I thought he did bring up a couple of interesting points. This system could be used by journalists to help flesh out story angles because it can dig up historical trends for players and teams that a journalist may not be aware of. Think of sport organizations that may get very little media coverage, if any, like youth teams. This system could allow a Little League manager to input the stats and with the click of the button have a quick recap of the game for the team or league’s website.
What do you guys think?
I’m getting to this topic a bit late, but I wanted to bring up Terrell Owen’s press conference after his Buffalo Bills lost to the New Orleans Saints a couple weeks ago. On top of the loss, T.O. also broke his 185-game streak of making at least one catch in a game so the reporters were guessing they’d get a juicy comment or two from the receiver. Instead of the flashy, loud, and sometimes unusual moments with the media from T.O., we saw a much more subdued player who wouldn’t succumb to the media’s incessant prodding during the press conference.
Here is a YouTube clip of the press conference:
Jason Sprenger at The Sports Ace offered up his opinion on this surprising moment:
In Owens’ case, the routine for him is complaining incessantly about his plight in life, or that he isn’t catching enough balls, or that his teams don’t have what it takes. So, naturally, when a long games-with-catches streak ends, the post-game presser will be full of ranting and raving, right?
Wrong. Owens, in a rare show of humility, answered every question straight as an arrow. He didn’t raise his voice or insult anyone. He stuck to the company line. And, in this case, I’m going to give him an A.
Gail Sideman at The Sports Networker talked about this press conference as T.O. looks to shed his previous image:
Based on past performances, media expected Owens to provide enough provocative commentary to write their stories for them. They knew from experience what kind of questions that could set him off. So they poked; they prodded and reconfigured questions to get him to say something that would make for a sensational headline.
What emerged from a session during which Owens wore sunglasses and spoke in one or very few-word answers was growth of a reputation that he says he is trying to quell.
What was your reaction to this press conference? You can share your thoughts in the comment section.
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.
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.”
A recent article in The New York Times helps to explain who this policy is truly trying to target:
The rules are aimed not at the casual fan who might post a few pictures of Saturday’s football game on a personal Web site, but rather those who copy television broadcasts, create their own highlight reels and post them on sites charging for access or advertising.
Bill Smith of Dr. BS can’t blame the SEC for wanting to protect its rightholders:
Enter digital. The ability to harvest video at a high quality and repost forces the rights holder to begin to consider pursuit. When people sell ads on such pages, it’s no longer “fan” oriented, it’s a business. And when that video is placed on line, it becomes discoverable.
Increasingly, there is real money in The Long Tail of old highlights backed by Google ads. Is anyone really surprised that the rights holders are now asking for their part of those proceeds?
Darren Rovell of SportsBiz understands that they are trying to protect their rightholders from bloggers and website owners making money off of their websites, but disagrees with that approach.
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?
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: Imagine24
Before I want to get into the topic of this post, I just wanted to thank everyone for visiting SPRB last week during the Sports Blogging 101 Series. There was a spike in traffic, linking, and discussion — thank you SPRB readers for making it a success! Since the series was such a hit, I will start working on a few more series (career, skills development, and Sports PR 101). As a result, posting will be lighter this week as I create content for the next series. Okay, back to the topic at hand.
Two weeks ago, a sophomore from Xavier named Jordan Crawford dunked over LeBron James at LeBron James Skills Academy. Ryan Miller, a freelancer, caught the dunk on camera for ESPNU. After that scrimmage had finished, a Nike official confiscated Miller’s tape as well as another reporter. Miller lost a whole day’s work when his entire tape was taken rather than just the portion including the dunk on LeBron.
The story blew up and Nike found itself in a PR fiasco. If the tape had been released, I’m sure it would have done well on YouTube. By confiscating the tape, Nike simply made it much much worse. As word leaked out about Nike’s tactics, bloggers and reporters had plenty to say in the coming weeks. Here’s a roundup of what some media members had to say:
Pete Thamel of The Quad (NYT basketball blog):
But with one bizarre move, Nike officials sent a warning to campers and the news media –- what happens at LeBron’s Camp stays at LeBron’s Camp. Or, at least they make sure that it doesn’t end up on YouTube.
Channeling media tactics straight out of North Korea, Nike officials confiscated the videotape of a 22-year-old freelance photographer named Ryan Miller.
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.