Importance of the Media
My #1 goal is Make Volleyball more Prominent in the Media - nationally, regionally and locally.
This month's edition is designed to help you understand the importance of the media and why it is important to you and your program - even if you are not a big-time program with big-time dollars or resources!
Media consists of radio, newspaper, cable television, broadcast television and now the Internet. These mediums are really sources of news and information for public consumption. It comes in varying forms - local, regional and national. Often local coverage is easier to obtain.
I live in a small town in Texas; the population of the immediate area is approximately 35,000. In our local paper each week, they provide upcoming game schedules, scores and stories for all local high school volleyball teams. Volleyball has a prominent place in the paper each week. I asked myself how they get this information. On each team, one person was assigned the responsibility to provide information to the local papers after each game (sometimes the coaching staff and sometimes a parent). If available, the paper sent a photographer to shoot photos during the game. It is not uncommon for a local photographer to attend two or three matches in a single evening, depending on the host venues.
Make sure that the sports editor at your local paper and local radio station have your game schedule and find out who is the contact to provide stories. Stories should include final scores, key play makers, momentum changes and keys to the game. Stories should be written as short stories (if too long they will edit at will or not include in that edition). Look at your local paper and see what the average length of stories printed are. Find out how the outlet wants to receive the story (via e-mail, fax or delivered to the office) and how do they want to receive the photos (e-mail digital photos or deliver to the office). Find out what are the deadlines and restrictions (usually a specific time of day).
Always tout the success of your program, hometown heroes, key playmakers and upcoming stars. Rather than sending a one-page schedule, add a page that gives reasons why each game is important, such as defending champions, traditional rivalries, hometown athlete returns to the area, coach's success, etc. ...
In many cases, programs in smaller towns will have more success in getting news stories printed than in larger towns. It is important to understand that other sports teams are vying for the same few inches of space in the paper or mentions on radio or TV. Programs in larger towns should follow these same steps for media coverage. Sadly so, you may have to work harder on the personal relationship with decision-makers to get coverage. Big-time programs may have more access for getting coverage, but there is a strong likelihood that they also have big-time football or basketball programs vying for the same coverage. Having a bigger program does not necessarily mean it is easier to obtain media coverage.
In all cases, I recommend you work hard to establish firsthand relationships with sports editors for all media outlets in your area, including newspaper, local radio, local cable and broadcast television stations. Find out who the decision makers are at each outlet (usually sports editor) and get to know them. Make sure they know who you are and how passionate you are about your sport and about getting coverage. Local media coverage is so important for many reasons - public perception of your program, potential sponsors or donors, recruiting and the ability to attract new fans. Each time you can successfully get your program's name out in the media, it's like getting free PR for your organization or university.
Finally, don't forget to include this information on your web sites. In today's world, most people have Internet access and use it frequently to obtain news and information at their leisure.
These steps should be taken for all programs at all levels of competition. The process is the same for obtaining local, regional or national coverage of your programs. I recommend you focus on local media first, and then contact your regional sports network for inclusion in their broadcasts. National media attention is harder to obtain due to thousands of sports teams that compete in the United States and worldwide. It may be easier for your conference office to take the lead for national coverage. The AVCA continues to work with all regional and national media outlets to obtain better coverage for the sport of volleyball. We have made recent success with CSTV and major sports web sites.
Be polite, be persistent and never give up in your attempts to acquire media coverage.
For additional information, please free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 936-582-2256.
Media MVP is written by Shelly Harper of Sharper Media who was hired in July 2002 as the media consultant for the AVCA and its members. Harper has more than 20 years of experience in sports television and her broad background in this field can be read at http://www.sharpermedia.net/. Harper can be reached at 936-582-2256 or via e-mail at email@example.com if you have a question and wish to utilize her expertise in this area.