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!
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?
To conclude SPRB’s Career Help 101 Series, I have rounded up 50 frequently asked interview questions (and some not-so-frequent) to help you prepare for your job interview. Thanks to the following websites for their great lists of interview questions, which I took these 50 questions from: Quintessential Careers, CNN, Bhuvana’s Blog, Tech Interviews, JobInterviewQuestions.com, Salt Lake Tribune, and CollegeGrad.com.
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Describe yourself in three words. How would your friends describe you in three words? Co-workers? Family?
3. Why should I hire you?
4. According to your definition of success, how successful have you been so far?
5. If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change?
This post includes a list of 25 blogs and books that can help you with your job search whether it’s tips for a resume, how to network, or work on your personal branding. Please note that these blogs and books are listed in no particular order. Know a book or blog that you think should be on the list? Share it with us in the comment section.
15 Career Blogs
7. On Careers
8. Lindsay Olson (PR)
9. Career Hub
13. Not Hired
14. Dumb Little Man
Image Credit: oooh.oooh
SPRB’s Career Help 101 Series has given you advice on how to craft the right resume, cover letter, online portfolio, and elevator pitch as you search for a job in sports PR. Networking is an important technique in your job search so this post has seven tips, in no particular order, to help you network.
- Be yourself, but be confident. In order to effectively communicate while networking, you need to be confident in yourself because if you don’t believe in you, what will other people think?
- Join a LinkedIn group that will help connect you with other individuals in the sport business industry. In addition, it provides a place for you to ask questions about the industry or provide answers on a topic you know well. Groups include Sports Industry Network, Sports Marketing and PR Pros, Sports Marketing 2.0, Young Sports Professionals Network, Mentoring Future Sports Business Stars, and SportsBiz.
- Remember that networking isn’t just about how you can get something from the other person. Career Hub really stressed this message in their list of 21 Networking Tips for Job Seekers. Relationships are a two-way street so if there’s anything you can do to help them, do it. Come across an article they might find interesting? Send them a link via e-mail.
- Have a business card that you can give out when you meet people. Be sure to include your e-mail address and phone number as well as the URL for your online portfolio and/or relevant blog if you have one. If you want and think it will help, include your Twitter username and/or LinkedIn URL.
- Listen well. The worst thing you can do is go on and on about yourself. It’s sure to turn off the other individual and it doesn’t give you a chance to learn about the other person and develop a relationship.
- Follow up (via Sports Networker). In high school I contacted an ESPN the Magazine senior reporter, who had written a great piece on Steve Yzerman. I was a big Wings fan and really admired his work and wanted to get some more information on the story for my Red Wings blog. I e-mailed him and it started a relationship that has continued until today. One of the things that stuck with me early on was this: He told me that he has given out his business card to hundreds and hundreds of high school and college students, encouraging them to contact him about the sport journalism industry. He told me only a handful will actually follow up. Don’t miss out on a great networking opportunity because you just don’t follow up. P.S. Follow ups include sending thank-you notes.
- Have a sound bite/elevator pitch/brag bag and practice it. SPRB addressed how to create an elevator pitch earlier this week.
What networking strategy has proven effective for you? Share with us in the comment section.
As we near the end of SPRB’s Career Help 101 Series, we wanted to address the issue of having an elevator pitch or as one author calls something similar a brag bag and a brag bite. Before we get to why you should have one, we need to explain what one is.
- Elevator Pitch — A succinct statement that explains who you are, what you do or what your company can do. It’s the answer to the question of what you do. It’s a brief sales pitch. It’s 30 seconds to convey the most important facts about yourself. Let’s say you walk into the elevator and the only other person in there is the hiring manager for your dream job. What would you say to him/her about yourself?
- Brag Bag — According to Peggy Klaus, who authored Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, a brag bag is a “collection of all the information about one’s best self that can be easily accessed: accomplishments, passions, and interests — the colorful details that describe who one is personally and professionally.”
- Brag Bites — Klaus also coined the term ‘brag bites,’ which are “snippets of impressive information about one’s best self, expressed in a brief, quotable manner. They function as memory insurance so that people will remember something compelling about you. They can be dropped into conversations as single gems or woven together to create longer bragologues.”
Now when Klaus uses the word brag, she is not talking about being obnoxious or making an overstatement. That type of bragging is annoying and off-putting — not good for helping you find a position. The bragging Klaus is talking about is a form of self-promotion that is not too self-serving and does not seem obvious.
Learning to brag is not about becoming something you aren’t or trying to put something over on someone. In fact, bragging as an art is just the opposite. It’s about becoming more of who you are and bringing forward your best parts with authenticity, pride, and enthusiasm. It’s about telling your story in a way that showcases your strengths. It’s about telling your story in a way that showcases your strengths. It’s a way of building a bridge to others and to better opportunities (p. 18-19).
Throughout the Career Help 101 Series, SPRB has helped you with your job search, shown you how to create an online portfolio, and stressed the importance of informational interviews and internships. Today, SPRB has 11 resume and cover letter tips to help you land that internship or full-time position.
6 Resume Tips
- Set aside some time to just sit and work on your resume. Whether you like it or not, this document will help land you the an interview or take you out of the running. This isn’t something that you want to just throw together at the last minute. Personally, I went step-by-step through The Complete Guide to Resume Writing, a great book by Louise Fletcher. She even has a free e-mail course to help people work on their resumes. Other people opt to turn to a professional resume writer, who will ask you the right questions and help you honestly word your resume to help you get that interview.
- Don’t include an objective. Not everyone will agree on this, but it’s no longer necessary to include an objective in your resume. What is an objective? It’s a statement about what you want to get out of this position. But a resume is supposed to show the prospective employer how you can help them. Instead of an objective statement, include a value statement.
- Have more than one version of your resume. You do not want to submit the exact same resume to every job opening that you apply to. Modify your resume each time so that you can best (but honestly) show how your past work experiences fit with the requirements and responsibilities of the position. For example, I have three “basic” resume templates: PR/media relations, community relations, and new media. All are obviously truthful, but I emphasize past work experiences differently based on the type of position I’m applying for.
- Make sure your resume stands out. You need to make sure that your resume will stand out enough to pass their initial 20-second inspection. Now I’m not suggesting that you go crazy and start inserting graphics and a ton of bright colors, but don’t just stick to the basic resume template in Word. Customize and tailor the resume to you and your personality. That being said, keep the text to Arial or Times New Roman because those are pretty much the only two fonts available on all Macs or PCs. Make sure there is enough white space that your resume won’t overwhelm the hiring manager.
- Don’t simply list your responsibilities, show your achievements. This tip can be harder for someone applying for an internship or their entry-level position, but you should be able to do this to some extent. By providing concrete examples of what you did in past experiences, you can show the prospective employer how you could help them. Be sure to use strong action verbs and numbers (if you can) to best describe these achievements. Did you pitch an idea that resulted in an article in a magazine, reaching 650,324 people? Say so. Did you play a role in helping the ticket office raise sales by 2% over six months? Write that down. Organized an event with 60 participants, resulting in coverage on the local TV stations? Put it in the resume.
- Use job descriptions to help you create your resume. I went through all of the job openings I have listed on SPRB since August and created a Word document that has pages of bullet points of what employers are looking for in positions in new media, PR, and community relations. If I knew that one of my likely responsibilities would be to update player bios, I would make sure I wrote in my resume that I did so. You also want to make sure that your resume fits with the job description of the position you are applying for and it doesn’t hurt to include relevant industry keywords when it makes sense to fit them in. Now I’m not saying you should copy and paste phrases of the description into your resume, but make sure you clearly show how your are qualified for this position.
As part of the Career Help 101 Series, I wanted to stress the importance of internships and getting work experience before graduating from college. Unless you’re the child of a team owner, you will not get a job in sports PR unless you have previous experience. I’ve talked to plenty of people in the sports industry (PR and other departments) and every single one has emphasized the need for internships in order to have a shot at getting a full-time position in the industry.
- An internship allows you to observe professionals on a daily or weekly basis in your interested field. I have learned so much by simply watching my bosses. How do they handle a difficult situation? What is their work ethic like? How do they interact with reporters or the players? What are their day-to-day responsibilities and how does it change on game days?
- An internship provides you with hands-on experience. Not only do you get to see firsthand what people working in the industry do, but you get to try it yourself. A hiring manager will want to see that you have experience doing the responsibilities (or something similar) that the open position requires. Internships give you experience to explain on a resume and materials/samples to place in a portfolio.
- An internship lets you determine if you actually like the industry. As “cool” as the sports business industry may sound like for many people, it is not a career suited for everyone who loves sports. Do you mind working weekends, long days, and holidays for not a ton of money (at least entry-level)? I’ve interned with some who absolutely love hockey, but didn’t enjoy the long hours and working on holidays that came with the internship. They would rather get a normal 9-to-5 job and get season tickets to watch hockey. And that’s fine. But it’s important to figure this out before you graduate, particularly if it means you need to switch your major.
- An internship is perfect for networking. You make connections with the people you work with whether it’s at the office every day or the beat reporters who cover the team. A sizable chunk of the people I’m connected with on LinkedIn are reporters I know from my two years interning with the Wings. When it’s time for you to try to find a job, it may be one of the people in your network who informs you about an open position and/or helps you land an interview.
Where can you intern if you want to go into sports PR?
SPRB’s Career Help 101 Series continues today as we discuss the importance of informational interviews and why you should do them if you’re a student, job seeker, or interested in changing professions.
What is an informational interview?
It’s a way for you to learn from someone with firsthand knowledge about the industry. It is not a place for you to hand over a resume and ask for a job or ask about any open positions. Think of it as a research opportunity — it’s simply a networking technique that lets you grasp a better understanding about the industry and/or company you want to work with.
It may help you with a job search as you make more connections, but please do not think of it as an equivalent to a job interview because it’s not. That being said, I would bring a copy of your resume in case they ask for it. You can bring it up, but only to ask for advice on how to improve the resume (either with the text/design of the resume or by work experiences you should gain).
You can do an informational interview over the phone or in person, but unlike a job interview you are the one primarily asking questions.
Why should you do an informational interview?
- Provides you with more information about your interested career field and helps you confirm that this is what you want to do
- Lets you know the types of qualifications and responsibilities that come with jobs in that particular aspect of the industry
- Builds your network and allows you to make connections with someone in the field
- Bolsters your self-confidence when it comes to interviews because it gives you a chance to interact with someone on an interview level without having to worry about getting a job or not
SPRB’s Career Help 101 Series continues today with a how-to post for creating an online portfolio. As I mentioned yesterday, an online portfolio can help you in your job search for a few of reasons.
- Showcases your work experiences with actual samples & allows you to offer more in-depth info than what you can include in a one-page resume
- Demonstrates your understanding of the digital world
- Helps protect your personal brand by showing up high in search engines if a potential employer were to Google your name
So how do you go about creating an online portfolio? Here’s how you can do it in eight steps:
1. Buy a domain name.
Sure you can put your digital portfolio on a website like wix.com, but it’s not going to help you as much in search results and it won’t come off quite as professional. Use your name as the domain name. For example, my portfolio is at ChristyHammond.com. If your first and last name are not available, add a middle initial. If that’s not available, do the entire middle name. If you don’t have that option either, find something else that sounds professional but conveys the purpose of this website.
You can purchase the domain name through whatever hosting site you will use. Personally, I use Site5.com. I’ve never run into any problems with them — quick with customer service and reliable. But I also host quite a few other websites there so you may not need as good of a hosting site. There are other cheaper ones including GoDaddy, but do your research and figure out which service would be the best for you and your needs.
2. Figure out a design.
Before you can actually start adding content to the online portfolio, you need to figure out how you want it to look. If you decide to use WordPress, you can install any WordPress template you find and use that. I think that WordPress themes are fantastic for blogs, but not necessarily so great for online portfolios so I went around searching for website templates. I came across this free, open source website template website and modified the HTML and CSS to fit how I wanted my website to look. However if you don’t know any HTML and don’t know how FTP works, going the WordPress route is probably the best. Just take some time to find a template that really works as a portfolio.
A professor who teaches PR at Auburn University requires all of his students in one of his courses to create their own digital portfolios and that’s what actually inspired me to create my own. Anyways, you can see a list of his Spring 2009 students and their portfolios to see the different website designs each of them used for their portfolio. You can check out even more of his students, dating back over the years at PRProspects.com.
To find pictures for the portfolio, you can visit iStockPhoto for low-priced images or search for photos under the Creative Commons license at Flickr or Google. Of course you can include your own photo if there’s one that fits. I took a photo off of Navy Pier in Chicago in the bitter month of February, capturing an icy Lake Michigan as the sun set and used that image as the head photo for my portfolio.