It’s the latest installment of our weekly roundup of sport business, PR and career-related news. Please feel free to share relevant blog posts and articles in the comment section!
- Huffington Post addresses research that says female athletes’ endorsements are hindered by sexualization and lack of visibility.
- Insider discusses iPad is changing the way that NFL players and coaches prepare for game-day.
- NBCNews.com highlights the value of U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas’ endorsements following her two gold medals.
- ProfNet gives advice about sports PR to PR professionals who have never handled a sports client.
- Sean Clancy at Evolving Communication writes a well-reasoned and thought out letter to Jay Paterno with how his family should respond to the Penn State scandal and JoePa’s involvement.
- Celeste at Personal Excellence wrote a lengthy, but quite helpful, guide on how to get media coverage for your business, blog or start-up. PR pros will already know (or hopefully do) what she writes about, but it’s a great primer for someone interested in obtaining media coverage.
- Ask a Manager and one of their readers provide some great advice when it comes to salary negotiations.
- Glassdoor Blog lists three career lessons we can learn from Olympic athletes.
- The Fast Track notes five ways to better manage millennial employees.
- The Bamboo Project discusses how to find and work with your career stepping stones.
- The Best Practices blog on Harvard Business Review’s website asks why aren’t you delegating? It examines why many do not delegate enough and how to go about changing that.
- The Personal Branding Blog asks what is your brand’s color?
During my time with the Wings, I have now seen five players retire thanks to one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Nick Lidstrom, announcing his retirement this week after 20 years with the team. With that in mind, I thought it might be prudent to point out some things PR departments have to consider for press conferences without using specifics from previous pressers.
Depending on the situation, not all of these are necessary to even consider but the goal is to give you an idea of the many issues and areas of the company that may be considered and involved in pulling off a press conference (sometimes with only 24-48 hours notice).
- Some announcements only warrant a teleconference rather than a press conference. Make sure you go with the appropriate route for the announcement.
- Schedule the time for the press conference and make sure the room is available at that time at least two hours prior to the start of the press conference so media can set up their equipment with ample time.
- Sometimes you can have no say in the timing of the presser because of the schedule limitations of the participating parties. If it’s something that you’ll have to really work to get media to attend, make sure there is no other big announcement planned for that day or big event that would take away from your press conference.
- Send out a media advisory with information about the press conference. It has to be carefully worded to avoid giving away the announcement if it needs to be kept under wraps.
- Make sure the operations department knows exactly how to set up the room for the presser and that there are enough seats for the anticipated number of media and guests.
- Work with your new media (video, web, social) to have teasers/promos about the actual press conference as well as have content ready to go for the website as soon as the announcement has been made.
- If possible, set up live streaming of the press conference on your website.
- Make sure your parking department knows to expect media and allow them to park for free when normally they may have a media list to follow.
- Work with your hospitality department to have at least the basic beverages provided for the media and guests in attendance.
- Have a press release, if necessary, ready to be sent out via email as well as distributed to media in person at the presser. Have numerous people review the release at least before distribution.
- Select an individual to act as moderator for the press conference to do a brief introduction of participating individuals, open it to questions and close out the presser. They’ll also want to make sure media know to raise their hand if they have a question and wait for a microphone before asking a question (or whatever your procedure may be to ask a question).
- Double check that the moderator has the correct titles for the individuals participating in the press conference.
- If a jersey or some kind of merchandise item is needed for press conference, do a rush request/order on the necessary materials.
- Make sure your audio guy has the right equipment and set-up for the press conference.
- Make sure you have people to handle the microphones for questions and that they know what they’re doing — having two reporters start asking a question at once is a big embarrassment.
- Put someone on recorder duty to record the press conference and transcribe it if necessary.
- Make sure you have the correct backdrop for the presser.
- If it looks like the turnout isn’t going to be what you expected, invite colleagues to attend to help fill up the room. If the presser is going to be packed, set up another room where colleagues can watch the presser so they aren’t trying to crowd into the actual room where the press conference will take place.
- If the announcement involves a retirement, make sure his/her teammates are aware of the press conference to attend, if possible, but do not tell them if the player is retiring because word will get out and the player wants to be the one to make the announcement. You don’t want a teammate essentially making the player’s retirement announcement for him.
- Make sure the front row or two are reserved for the special guests (i.e. player and his/her family, owners, company president, hockey ops personnel and former players).
- Assign members of the PR department to these special guests to help with any one-on-one interview requests after the announcement has been made. For example, I was assigned to shadow Red Wings great Ted Lindsay following the NHL’s 2013 Winter Classic announcement.
- Make sure building security knows what’s going on — that a large number of media and other visitors are anticipated that day. They want to keep out fans trying to weasel their way in if the presser is strictly for media and special guests.
- Communicate times to important individuals internally (i.e. company president, owner’s family, etc.). Obviously the sport operations side will know what’s going on if it’s a presser to announce a signing or retirement, but you need to keep the business side in the loop without letting too many people know and risk having it leak.
- If needed, put together press kits and/or media gift items to be distributed at the press conference. If you’re doing a press kit, keep in mind the quality of paper and know that a lot of high-profile individuals may be flipping through it.
- Ensure everyone in the PR department arrives early and has a clear schedule to handle last-minute problems. It’s important that they understand the rundown of the day so they can handle any inquiries from other departments. They will also want to wear darker suits to blend in so if they get caught on a camera, they’re not a distraction visually.
- Make sure the PR department has fully charged phones or whatever you are using to keep in touch on the day of the press conference.
- Above all, secrecy is key so in all that you do, so keep it to need-to-know personnel only and emphasize the importance that they cannot share the information with anyone outside the small group of individuals necessary to pull off the press conference.
For those of you who have not been involved in the planning of a press conference, hopefully you learned something new. For those of you who have, please add your suggestions in the comment section because I know I didn’t cover everything!
An opinion piece by Andy Furman, the man behind Publicity Enterprises, in the Feb. 1-7 issue of Sports Business Journal remarks on how the role of the sports public relations practitioner has changed over time. Furman comments that the role has changed from salesperson or “pitchman” to serviceperson.
“Every team has a leading scorer, and every team clamors for its proper place in media. But superlatives alone may not get the media drooling.”
He also referenced former publicist Joey Goldstein, who was known for his creativity and salesmanship, when others put out “corporate brochures” to demonstrate the value of those traits.
Furman argues that social media does not equal social contact, which he says is fundamental to the job. What do you guys think of his comments? I agree that social media can be a tool for PR practitioners and can offer means to be creative technologically speaking (i.e. contests, unique promotions), but building relationships with the media and other individuals remains critical to public relations.
The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has hired a PR firm to promote Boise State’s football program as it makes a bid for a BCS bowl game.
The role of Scott Peyron & Associates is to keep Boise State in the forefront of the minds of the media. It does not lobby voters or coaches. It does email a weekly list of talking points regarding Boise State’s accomplishments to members of the national media. It also sets up interviews for WAC commissioner Karl Benson and prepares statistical information for him to use to make a case for the Broncos. …
“We made sure to let the national press know that a win against the 16th ranked BYU, which is now unranked, is not as strong as Boise State’s signature win against No. 16 (AP) Oregon, which is now ranked eighth,” Cole said. “Those are the types of things that dictate what our positioning is in terms of reminding media and getting stats in front of [the media] just so they can be honest and not ignore Boise State.”
When you think of the value that playing in a bowl game (or March Madness) can bring to a university like Boise State, it’s easy to understand why they would want to promote their football program with the hopes of getting into a bowl game. What tactics do you think this PR firm should use to best promote the WAC, particularly the Boise State program?
Sports Business Daily has followed this interesting storyline of Canadian hockey teams taking the H1N1 vaccine and the public controversy that followed. Why is taking a vaccine a big deal? Millions of Canadians who have been waiting in line to get this vaccine have yet to get the vaccine, while these professional hockey players seemingly jumped ahead in the queue line according to those angered by this situation.
Since there is a lot to this story, let me break it down for you by bullet points:
- The Calgary Flames were the first organization to be mentioned by the media, but the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors (NBA) were later added to the discussion.
- The Flames’ players were given the opportunity last Friday to take the vaccine. The players were not required to do so by the team, but it sounds like the majority if not all of the team took the shots. The same players did not realize that they were “jumping” in line or even how many people were waiting for a vaccine.
- It appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ players were actually the first to receive the vaccine last Tuesday after a home game, but word did not get out until two days after the news about the Flames.
- The provincial government is particularly upset, which the Globe & Mail suggests is due to the fact that they were already taking a lot of heat for how they have handled this vaccine allotment and seeing pro athletes get the vaccine over pregnant women and children just added to the flames.
- High at-risk individuals are to be given the vaccine first and with the low supply should be the only ones to receive the vaccine in Canada right now. These individuals would include “children between the age of six months and five years, pregnant women, elderly people and health-care workers.”
- So if athletes don’t fall under that umbrella, how did they get the vaccines for the team? Toronto says they did not go through improper means to do so and the Flames seconded that statement.
- The Calgary Herald later reported that a mid-level manager in the province health superboard was fired after it was discovered he was why the Flames jumped up in the queue line: “Cooney said the manager was the most senior staff member involved, adding the person was senior enough that the Flames would have no reason to believe the decision to go ahead with the shots was inappropriate.” A second worker was also fired in the connection to this H1N1-Gate as some are calling it.
- A column in The Toronto Star says that it’s no surprise professional athletes got preferential treatment over the Average Joe, which gets at the heart of this controversy and why this is such a PR problem for the teams.
- The Ottawa Senators made it clear by Nov. 5 — the day that news about the Maple Leafs broke — that they had not received the vaccine yet and they would be waiting in the queue with everyone else and that the shot would not be a requirement for its players.
So how did these different sports teams respond to this unique controversy?
I’ve gotten behind on quite a bit of my biweekly readings so I wanted to quickly link to some of the stories I should have blogged about but didn’t have the time:
- Indiana University now has a National Sports Journalism Center. Their website has a collection of recent articles regarding sports journalism, which makes for a great read.
- Speaking of journalism, the Boston Globe wrote a piece about journalism majors and the prospect of finding a job in what they are trained to do. The paper also has a fascinating read about a training camp for future sport broadcasters.
- Mike Wise of the Washington Post has an interesting read about the Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
- Darren Rovell has the top ten selling sports books of 2009 up on Sports Biz.
- PR Week (UK) did a feature on the business of sport, particularly sports PR. The article dates back to July 22 so I’m a bit belated, but still wanted to share.
- Mike Schaffer spearheaded a National Sports PR Chat with the first one taking place on October 1. He is thinking of holding the next chat on October 15 so if you are on Twitter, here is where you want to go for more information. You can view a transcript of the first chat here.
- Sports PR 101 discusses how the NBA addressed the potential PR problems from an NBA referee lockout.
PR Week did a brief piece that looked at how the New Jersey Devils used social media and other marketing strategies to promote Martin Brodeur Day (June 18th), which the state legislation had named in honor of the netminder setting the all-time record for wins by a goalie back in March.
As part of the celebration, the New Jersey state legislature declared June 18 Martin Brodeur Day, inviting the goalie to the State House in Trenton to accept the honor. Rather than sending Brodeur alone, the Devils’ in-house PR team, Rock Entertainment Management (which is also the PR team for the Prudential Center, the Devils’ sports arena), gathered New Jersey Devils alums, members of the Devils’ broadcasting team, and 300 fans onto a New Jersey Transit train ride to Trenton to share the experience.
The organization wanted to emphasize its social media so they live-tweeted the ceremony and also updated their official website and Facebook account with video and photos throughout the day. The Devils deemed the event a success with local broadcast stations and newspapers covering it as well as bloggers like In Lou We Trust. Not only was it a fun idea, but the fans and alumni gathered on a train for Marty was a great visual and unique concept to pitch to broadcast media or print media for photos.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced the signing of Michael Vick to a two-year deal last Thursday night, sending shock waves around the sports world. While it would take me way too long to try to roundup all the Vick coverage, I do want to address some PR-related articles and comment on the signing. Please feel free to chip in your two cents in the comment section, I’d love to hear what you are thinking on this situation.
PR for Vick
SPRB had previously linked to a blog post at Shutdown Corner that talked about what Vick needed to do upon leaving prison to get his career back in order. Gable PR also offered up some suggestions for Vick to help rehab his image.
The process began when Tony Dungy spoke with Vick while he was still in prison. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell learned of that conversation and asked Dungy to formally take Vick under his wing and help guide him as he returned to the NFL and life after prison. He has also been speaking with Boys & Girls Clubs about dog fighting and the importance of loving your pets. Vick agreed to do an interview with James Brown for 60 Minutes, which many deemed a success for both the athlete and the program.
The next step was to sign with an NFL team, which he did late last week. A press conference was held to address the signing with Vick, Dungy, and head coach Andy Reid speaking with reporters. The Phanatic Magazine has a transcript up of the remarks that were said.
SPRB is pleased to post this interview with Nate Ewell, who is the Director of Media Relations for the Washington Capitals as well as founder/editor for Inside College Hockey. Not only does he get to work for an exciting hockey team and with a dynamic personality in star forward Alex Ovechkin, but Ewell and the rest of the Caps’ PR department has won the Dick Dillman Award three years in a row. The award is given to the PR staff judged to be the best in each conference as voted by the Professional Writers Hockey Association. I want to thank Ewell for taking the time to answer my many questions for SPRB. Enjoy!
1) How did you get your current position with the Capitals and how long have you held that position? What previous work experiences helped prepare you for your position?
This will be my seventh season with the Capitals, my fifth in a row. I had worked in sports information and for the student paper at Princeton and after graduating took an internship with the sports information department at Michigan State. That evolved into a full-time position and I was there for three years, working mostly with the hockey team but also other sports (football, women’s golf, etc.). After Michigan State I had a brief stint with US Lacrosse before I learned about a position with the Capitals in 2000. I spent two years as a manager in the media relations department before leaving in 2002 to work for NBC at the Salt Lake Olympics. After that I worked outside of sports, editing home and design books and magazines, while launching a web site, InsideCollegeHockey.com.
After the lockout my boss Kurt Kehl invited me back to the Capitals and I was happy to take him up on it.
I think everything I’ve done has helped me prepare for this job – even editing home plan magazines when I wasn’t working in sports – but I probably learned the most during my stints in sports info at Princeton and Michigan State.
2) Your department has created its own Twitter account, blog, and Caps Today feature on the website to keep media members (and fans) abreast of any new Caps developments. When did you decide that these would be beneficial platforms to use and what has the reception been like from the media?
We launched each of those projects independently, but in general they fit the idea of the organization providing more original content, and our department reaching fans directly rather than relying on the media to carry our message.
Caps Today started two years ago as an email to our media with two main goals: give them the next three days’ practice schedule to help with planning and give them a good, timely storyline to try to convince them to come out (or to help bring them up to speed in case they did come out). It’s been overwhelmingly positive, with a big benefit we didn’t foresee – it starts a lot of conversations with media members who will reply to the email.
We started our @capsmedia Twitter account last year simply because we had members of the media ask to get practice schedule updates via text. We did some research and that seemed like the easiest way. As Twitter has exploded, however, we’ve been able to use it in other ways as well (releases, notes during games, even audio interviews using TweetMic). Some media have been slow to convert but I think those who are on Twitter appreciate it. I also have a Twitter account (@nateeewell) as does our assistant director of media relations, Paul Rovnak (@paulrovnak).
The blog gives us a chance to write a bit and share some behind-the-scenes stories, and to alert our fans of upcoming interviews or good stories. I’m not sure we’ve found the best uses for it yet – or if it has much of a readership – but it’s something we enjoy doing and hopefully some people find it useful or entertaining.
I did not attend the Big Ten media days held late in July in Chicago, but some University of Michigan sports bloggers did and critiqued the event. Need to put on a media day event for your team? Take into consideration what these guys have to say.
Primary Complaint: Not enough time
- Tim of MGoBlog believed that the two half-days were not enough time for the media in attendance. He argues that if you have all of these reporters traveling to Chicago for the weekend, why limit it to just eight hours over two days?
- According to the bloggers, the first day consisted of 15-minute press conferences with each head coach. It’s not too surprising that some media members felt the press conferences could have lasted longer since there were so many reporters in attendance. MGoBlog writes that the SEC gave coaches 45 minutes to talk to the media. The SEC media day went three days. I do want to note that while the media day may have seemed short, Rich Rod was busy from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. EDT on the first day.
- Tim also mentions that on the second day when the media could talk to the three players representing their team, he only made it to just over half of his goal of asking each player a couple of questions in two hours. He didn’t even attempt trying to talk to the coach one-on-one because of the lengthy line to do so.
- U-M sports blog Maize N Brew commented on coach Rich Rodriguez selection of the three players representing his team. Dave thought he picked some “outstanding young men” to represent the Maize and Blue. If you are hosting a media day that will not have every athlete on the team in attendance, make sure you select the right players to go. Now you don’t want to pick obscure names that the media may not find interesting, but you want to ensure that the right people are representing your program.
- Dave also remarked on how much he appreciated Rich Rod’s straightforward answers. While he would not discuss certain issues like why a player left the team, he was open and honest with the vast majority of questions. Reporters don’t want to just be fed a line. While every coach has their moments where they have to keep some tidbits to themselves, it’s important to have a coach that is professional but understands the importance of the media.
Every event is going to have its upsides and downsides, you just hope the upsides outweigh those downsides. What do you think makes for a successful media day? For those of you who read or watched the press conferences from this event, did you get enough information?