One of the greatest unknowns for many new committee members is how do they get the stories about their club into the local media. It often seems that every other club gets into the local media easily. So how is it done?
- Relationships – like everything else in this world strong personal relationships are vital so you need to form strong relationships, firstly with your local sports reporters and secondly with their editors or station managers.
- Invite the media to your events – Initially when you don’t know the reporters, station managers and editors it is a lot easier to be contacting these key people if you have a purpose rather than just ringing to introduce yourself and your club. Therefore create or tailor a club event to make it news worthy and then invite the media to attend your event. Season launches or your first home game/competition are ideally suited for this purpose.
- Mayors and Councillors love to be in the media – create opportunities for them to be in the media. Likewise the local media love featuring Mayors and Councillors so invite both groups to your events and let the other party know that each other will be there.
- Create your media list – and continually update a list of all media outlets, newspaper, radio, TV and also don’t forget to consider “unofficial” digital media such as a blog or forum that covers your sport and club locally. Understand who is the right person to contact, when are their publication deadlines and how do they like to receive their stories.
- Consistently produce and send media releases – that contain not just the competition results but also a story, a quote from a key person or people relating to the story, where possible a photo and the contact details of somebody from the club authorised to talk on the topic if they want further information. If a reporter has a choice between a complete story of community interest with quotes and photos lobbing on their desk or having to go out interview somebody and then write the story, well most would take the easy option.
- Don’t just tell the sports stories – Don’t aim just at the sports pages – local sports clubs do so much in the community that is non-sport related. Make sure the media outlets are aware of these stories, well in advance if possible. This significantly increases the potential for the story to be picked up because it can be run in any part of the media publication not just in the sports section.
- Relive club history – local media is all about story telling so continually tell the stories from great events and people from your clubs past. Link them into current day events if you can. For example if your club had soldiers who went to war then tell their stories around ANZAC day, premiership reunions and anniversaries of key club and individual milestones are also a great stories the media love to pick up.
- Develop long term relationships – relationships take time to build and even longer before they allow you to influence the behaviour of the other person. Make sure that you are continually looking for ways to build relationships with the reporters, editors and station managers over the long term. Don’t just make one phone call to the sports reporter and then assume they will automatically start covering your club. You have to educate them about your club over time and hopefully they will “fall in love” with your club, its culture, what it stands for and its standing and role within the community. Unfortunately this takes time.
- Self publish – Even if you have strong relationships and publishing great media releases every week you still may not get into the media as much as you like. If this is the case you may wish to consider joining the media. Grab a smart phone and start interviewing coaches, presidents, volunteers, players and anybody else around your club then publish the video on your clubs webpage and social media each week. You will be surprised, if you publish the video or recorded interviews consistently at the same time each week just how quickly you will build an audience of people interested in your club.