Media Relations Tips for Clubs by latenightwaitress

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									Club Development Manual

15

Media Relations

Chapter 15

Media Relations

Rowing Canada’s Media Relations Guide for Club Administrators and Coaches Introduction This document was designed to give some pointers to rowing clubs on how to get started in the area of media relations. Several clubs in Canada already have excellent skills in this area, and therefore are beyond the scope of this primer. To be effective media relations must be done at all levels of the sport – internationally (FISA), nationally (national sports federations, policy issues, National Teams) , provincially (provincial association - provincial teams and issues affecting provinces) and at the club level (local events, issues and personalities). Although the subject matter may be different, the same principles of media relations can be applied at all levels. However, each club must keep in mind the following factors when dealing with the media: location, number of media outlets in the area, number of newsworthy events in the area, etc. Small and/or new clubs can benefit from a few basic lessons in the area of media relations. Why Bother with Media Relations? “The more press coverage we have, the more general information calls I receive from people who want more information about the sport.” Shauna Marling, Executive Director, Manitoba Rowing Association Your club members and coaches are very busy and may not believe there is time to develop good media relations. However, a small investment in this area can have a positive result on all your club’s activities. If the club president does not have time, designate a volunteer (ideally someone who has experience in this area) to take a leading role in media relations. There are several ways good media relations can help a rowing club. Sometimes these benefits will be immediate (a positive story in the newspaper), and other benefits may not be seen for years (increased membership due to ongoing exposure).

Possible benefits: Exposure in the community (creating a profile with local politicians and companies, and public goodwill toward the club to ensure continued access to water facilities, for example) Adds legitimacy to your club’s activities and may lead to increased sponsorship and fundraising opportunities Increased interest in the sport from the general public Recognition for members of your club in local paper or on TV (coverage of an awards ceremony, for example). “Sponsors or potential sponsors want to know that they are aligning themselves with a legitimate, well-run organization, which can provide them with something in return, whether its media coverage or members using the product or service.” Shauna Marling, Manitoba Rowing Association It’s your club’s responsibility to create a positive, safe and enjoyable rowing environment for your members. Good media relations will only serve to add to this. However, just as you wouldn’t expect a learn-to-row crew to win the World Championships in a year, you shouldn’t expect a first try at media relations to bring huge results. Start small, have fun and the rewards will come….

Getting the Word Out For the most part, media outlets are businesses. It’s our job to decide what is in the best interest of our readers or audience. A club or event organizer’s role is to inform the media in a timely, accurate manner about an event or newsworthy situation. “If you don't let the media know what's going on, they may never take an interest in finding out for themselves.” Randy Starkman, Toronto Star There are two basic ways to do this: NEWS RELEASE – via e-mail, fax, or even regular mail. PERSONAL CONTACT – phone call or meeting. Don’t rely on your web site to get the message to the media – remember you are competing with literally hundreds of other events and groups. A reporter or editor needs to have the information delivered to them in an efficient manner. Usually a news release followed up with a BRIEF reminder phone call is sufficient. However, there are no guarantees that you will get coverage.

News releases: Keeping it simple usually works the best. Flashy press kits, PowerPoint presentations or expensive letterhead mean nothing if your information is not newsworthy. What makes an event or person newsworthy? Many factors, but here are some: Outstanding accomplishment that the general public will recognize. The celebrity angle – a high-profile visitor to your club’s event. A unique event – something that has not been done in the community before and/or offers a photo opportunity. Human interest (e.g. A rower that has overcome personal obstacles to win a big race).

News release text examples for the same event:

The Townsville Rowing Club is holding rowathon this weekend to support rowing. Local rowers will be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday. Please join us, phone the club for more information at …… This weekend, the Townsville Rowing Club is part of a National Initiative to raise money for rowing in Canada and a new boathouse on the Sunny river – among the participants will be Townsville’s own World Medallist Joe Smith, who was part of the successful men’s eight at this year’s worlds. The media and local rowers are invited from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday to meet Smith at the dock….. Please Contact coach John Jones, at…… Obviously, example B has more detail and offers the media more specifics as to what to expect and what may make a good story. Therefore, excerpt B is more effective in getting the message to the media. Dos and Don’ts “As much as possible, try to make the story you want to get across appeal on a human interest level. Don't be discouraged if no one picks up your release or event right away, or even after a few attempts. Half of getting any coverage is just familiarizing media outlets with who you are, so when a reporter etc. is looking for a rowing club, or a community sporting event, they will think of you.” Andrew Boggs, Argonaut Rowing Club DO – have a clear idea of what your goals are… are you trying to gain exposure for your club, an individual rower or coach, or for a specific event? Make your message clear and succinct.

DO – think locally. Chances are that the Globe and Mail will not cover a regatta in a small town, but a local newspaper might jump at the chance. DO – give the proper notice to a media outlet. Too early and your message may get lost or forgotten; too late and your event may be missed due to scheduling. Lead time of a week or so is usually good for a daily newspaper or TV or radio station. More notice should be given to weekly or monthly publications. DO – make sure the contact information is given for a person who is accessible. If the boathouse phone number is rarely answered, that’s not a good one to give the media. DO – consider the media outlet’s needs. The six-o’clock news may not be interested in a feature story on Masters rowers, but a local weekly newspaper or fitness publication may be. DON’T – be argumentative or forceful in your approach to a media outlet if you feel you’ve been overlooked. They may not want to cover a certain event, but keep the lines of communication open for future coverage. DON’T – keep the media waiting. If you’re having a three-hour awards ceremony, let the media contacts know when the most newsworthy part will take place (ie. a major presentation, or celebrity guest speaker or other photo opportunity). DO – be helpful and offer interesting comments to reporters, however, to not use the media to complain about another crew, coach, official, etc. Fighting a battle in the media will only make the problem worse. DON’T – say “no comment.” That comes across as dramatic and controversial. If you don’t wish to talk about a particular subject, explain why in a diplomatic way. (i.e. “I’m not really the best person to ask that questions because….” or “I would need more information before I could confidently answer that, perhaps you should speak with….”)

Challenges Unique to the Rowing Community “First of all, an individual accomplishment always gets better play than a team effort because it's what a reader relates to – head-to-head competition with individual strategies or quirks that set a winner apart. It's harder for media and the public to get a handle on a four-man or eight-man crew as one entity. We always write about stars.” Jim Christie, Olympic reporter, The Globe and Mail

Rowing is a unique team sport – in soccer, for example, one player can score more goals than another – in a rowing crew everyone does the exactly same thing… this presents a challenge to the media – what to focus on? Naturally, with single scullers the answer is clear, but with a crew it’s a little more difficult. One person in the crew could be designated as a spokesperson, for example, and find something unique about your crew members from a human interest standpoint. For the most part, rowers tend to be naturally reserved and humble. This means that athletes downplay our accomplishments, which is generally a good thing in everyday life, but often the media is looking for a hook to a story – don’t be afraid to share interesting stories, past accomplishments or anecdotes. Rowing is not (and never will be) a mainstream sport such as hockey or basketball. Therefore, be patient and prepared to educate the media. Stay away from rowing jargon – use easy-to-understand terms. Rowing is a difficult sport to photograph or video from the shore. This often means that someone will have to take a photographer or cameraperson out on a boat – be prepared for this. Or perhaps they will shoot a photograph on the dock or medal podium. Ease of access is very important to busy reporters and photographers. A well-run club or event means little room or time for controversy. If you invite the media to an event that is disorganized or controversial, expect that the reporter will pick-up on that and report about it. Remember, the number one goal is to enjoy the sport and create unique and interesting events in your community. This, with a little media relations work and know-how, will intern bring your club and event the attention it deserves.

If you have more questions about dealing with the media, please contact Jackie Skender Rowing Canada Aviron comm@rowingcanada.org


								
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