Nov 27, 2010 Sports
The final day of the English FA /Premier League/ CONCACAF Media Management Workshop saw some more pertinent information about the role of the Media Officer being disseminated by Resource Personnel Dan Johnson, who is the Head of Communications of the English Premier League and Scott Field, Head of Media Relations of the English FA.
The Workshop which was conducted at the Crowne Plaza in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago saw participants from CONCACAF affiliates in attendance and they discussed a wide range of topics pertaining to media relations within the sport.
Some of the areas that were dealt with include the functions of the Media Officer in a team or association; how to deal with the external media; Team Dynamic and the importance of a Press Officer; the likely media interest towards a team; how a team works with the media; what are some of the rules of engagement with the media; setting expectations and knowing your audience; what sort of interviews that should be conducted; commercial requirements and managing access to team, Head Coach among others.
The discussions, though predominantly relevant to the English scenario, could also be used among CONCACAF affiliates to attain the high standards seen in the English League which presently is second to none.
Scott, who opened the morning session gave a detailed account on the role of the Team Officer including how they handle the external media, public phone calls, e-mails and correspondence related to information about the team.
He also discussed how the Team Officer should deal with High Profile talent and how to generate stories for the Press that will serve as beneficial for the team.
The official then spoke of the importance of respecting the Media commonly referred to as the Fourth Estate, while stressing that most have agreed, the game belongs to the fans and the press.
He added that the Media Officer of a team should act as the single point of contact for the wide media, should filter direct request to the team where necessary, have a good understanding of the media’s agenda, be able to repel as much negative coverage as possible and help promote positive images of the team and should in effect be a specialist for the team.
Team Dynamic- Where does a Press Officer fit in and when?
According to Scott, Press Officers are becoming more and more relevant to teams. They have become an integral part of the team and must help to deflect unnecessary pressure on Coaches and players even during a bad period.
They must be able to articulate the views of the Coach/ Manager to the media and to know when and where to utilize the Coach and to understand his strengths and weaknesses.
Scott spoke of some coaches who’re not comfortable speaking with the media and those who do not like to spend much time away from the players as instances when the Press Officer must take charge and offer some amount of ease.
He said it vitally important to know the environment you’re in which could assist in making seemingly bad situations more comfortable and accommodating for both coaches and players.
A Press Officer should also be able to assess the level of interest shown by the media and why that is so and who will be the players to speak to the media should that request be made and what are the rules of engagement.
The Officer should also at all times strive to set those scheduled to appear in front of the media at ease and this could be done by letting them know in advance how many journalists will be attending the briefing and what are the expectations.
Another vital tool according to Scott was to convene a working party of close allies, avid being too prescriptive, but rather be more collaborative and inquire about the minimum requirements the media would like to see present such as internet access, power points etc.
All this Scott said could help avoid a media from being venomous and focused on making life hard for you the Officer, Coach and players. According to him, if the environment is right then you would have done a lot to ease any anticipated aggression from the media in most cases.
Scott also touched on the importance of journalists having access to the Press Officer 24-7, it could help alleviate perceptions and is another way players. of gaining an ally. Field in his presentation focused on modern communication which has seen smaller clubs join the bigger ones to help promote the sport and he gave as an example Liverpool playing against Fulham in Asia.
Other examples of how developed communication has become is the manner in which the delivery of the League is done. He spoke of involving the immediate community where the club resides, joint partnership with good causes initiatives, coaches going into areas to coach, and the sales of boots, t-shirts and replica of the trophy.
The need to embrace online technology and innovation is another area to take advantage of and it could be used to communicate with stakeholders in partnership and fans in a more nuanced conversational way.
Meanwhile, all the participants vowed to extract the information that are relevant to their respective countries to improve the existing relationship between their local FA and the Media.
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