On Live Sports and Media Training

There isn’t any other form of programming that provides as much live entertainment as sport. Sports programming makes up more opportunity for a live audience than any other type of program and has better ratings than any other type of programming occurring on a regular basis. And this is especially true during post-season types of events where there is more on the line for the teams participating as well as more focused attention from fans of other teams who might not otherwise watch the participating teams. Plus you’ve got the fence-sitters and others who only watch sports during the post-season for the drama and excitement that usually comes with these types of games. Take the Super Bowl for example – the most watch event of the year, every year.

Considering the amount of live sport already on the air and the demand for more live sports programming coming soon, as evidenced by the major television deals being signed by teams and leagues around the world, media training must be a greater part of the off-field training you provide your athletes and staff as well. If you don’t have someone on staff who knows how to do this, hire a professional and make it mandatory for every person who deals with the public to learn the basics of how to deal with the media and how to speak to a reporter.

I’m not an expert in this area, but I do watch and learn from every broadcast I have a chance to witness. The one rule I will express here is this:

– Never let the person you are interviewing take the microphone from the person holding the microphone

Never.

With a public audience, especially one on national television, you have to be able to take control of the message being broadcast for both legal purposes as well as for the purpose of moving things along, making sure they don’t get out of control. When you hand over the microphone to someone not emotionally or intellectually prepared to deal with that type of power, bad things can happen. And even if bad things don’t happen, it can get pretty awkward pretty quick.

So remember this one lesson at your next game and throughout the year…because its the one time you’re overwhelmed with things going on and you let your guest take the microphone and take your audience on a ride they weren’t expecting. In a world of instant internet access everywhere, those words will hit the digital airwaves in minutes and you’ll be all over the news. Don’t let bad news happen. Take control of the microphone.

I hope this lesson was helpful to you, let me know what you think in the comments.

Go Forth!

Be Clear About the Difference

Sports are entertainment. We won’t get into amateur and college athletics, as that is a whole different topic for another day. So yes, sports are a form of entertainment, albeit unique.

Entertainment for most people falls into the area of discretionary income. Most of the population has a set amount of money with which they will spend on things other than life’s essentials – food, clothing, shelter. It is then up to the sport executives TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE between what makes them worthy of the money they charge for the entertainment elements they provide and everything else a person might come across.

A lot of what I talk about here on this blog are subtle differences about marketing, sales, and other aspects of the business of sports; subtle, yet very important. To really be of value to someone and to really be able to develop a relationship with those who think you matter as an organization, you have to be clear about the difference between that person spending their hard earned money on you as opposed to something else.

What is it that makes you worthy of their time?
Of their money?
Of their thoughts and tweets and likes?
What is it that you provide the customer that makes you different from anything else they might be doing? Prove it.

Here are a few examples of you might begin to answer this question:
Connection
Community
Team bonding
Athletic bodies competing
Flashy moves
Touchdown dances
Seeing yourself on the big screen
Being a part of something great than yourself
Yelling at the top of your lungs
The feeling of being at a sold out game so loud you can’t hear anything but intimidating noise
The thrill of victory
The agony of defeat

These are only examples of how you might begin to define what it is that makes you different from all the other options a person might have in terms of spending their discretionary income. Be so clear about the difference between what you can control and everything else, that everyone who comes across your brand has no choice but to either fall in love or get out of the way. Be so clear about what makes you unique that everyone has an opinion as to whether or not you’re the one for them.

And once you figure that out – make sure everyone in your organization knows the answer and can articulate the difference in their own words. This must be something literally everyone lives and breathes, from the President down to the part-time staff working minimal hours. If not everyone believes and talks about the same thing at all times, it can be like a cancer, eating away at what you’re trying to accomplish. Control you message and be clear about the difference.

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Go Forth!

What’s the Story They’re Telling Themselves?

Anytime you are trying to sell something or trying to convince someone of something you have to try to understand the story they are telling themselves. What is it that makes this person unique and how has their past gotten them to the point they are now? What background and understanding does this person have about the thing that I’m offering, or potentially offering?

Does this person care about the university?
Are they a fan of the coach?
Are they a fan of a few of the players on the team?
Did they grow up with the organization and become a fan that way?
Were they sick and in the hospital at some point in their past and were they visited by the team mascot?
What is their history and understanding of the sport itself?
Who do they usually go to games with? Family or friends or both?
Are they interested in tailgating?
What other things do they do to occupy their time?
Do they have time for all of the games over the course of the season or would a smaller plan be better?
Are they someone who only watches at home for the replays and the stats coming in from various sources?

These are all questions relative to a sales conversation that must at least be in the back of your mind when talking to someone new about what it is that you’re offering. If their story doesn’t somehow line up with yours, then its probably best to just move on to the next conversation. Don’t waste your time trying convince someone who probably won’t change anyway, especially with the reality that there are others on your list who really do want what it is that you’re offering. Find the people that want what you have and have the need for your solution.

The same principle applies with customer service – what’s the story they are telling themselves? When someone calls to complain, where are they coming from? What state of mind were they in when the bad thing happened? What have their past experiences been like that led them to the point they are now? You’re not going to convince someone of something unless you can learn the other parts of their story. Doing so gives you a foundation from which to start developing a positive outcome.

Learn the story your customers are telling themselves and help them complete that story with an ending you can offer. What do you think?

Go Forth!

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