“20-25. 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-9”
What’s wrong with this score? Either the winning squad was not satisfied with the 15th and final point of the final set and continued to keep playing, or this was simply an error.
This score was reported in an actual newspaper, and in my mind, epitomizes mainstream media coverage of the sport of volleyball. I’m not here to kill the newspaper that printed the score; after all, it could have been a simple typo or a misprint, but considering the importance of this particular match I couldn’t help but shake my head.
I’m not saying everyone does a poor job of covering the sport. There are a TON of great members of the media out there who work their tails off to promote the game. That also includes the SID’s, but in order for volleyball to grow into the main stream, the media separate from the respective schools has to play the prominent role.
But instead of sitting on our (the AVCA and the rest of the volleyball community) hands and complaining about it, I say we take a more proactive approach and do something about it.
So today is part one of a three-part blog highlighting six major questions you have to answer before you make pitches to the media to cover your program.
Before I get to the questions, I think it’s important for me to briefly rundown my background. I graduated from Ithaca College with a B.S. in Sport Media, and have since had a stint with two minor league baseball teams: the Tri-City ValleyCats in Albany, NY and the Memphis Redbirds in Memphis, TN. Sandwiched between those minor league experiences was a stint with the New York Giants. In those positions, I worked tirelessly with the media on the coverage of our team. It was my job to get them there, and once they show up, make sure they come back. Without further adieu, the six questions:
1) What sells?
2) What’s the best method to pitch an idea?
3) How do we establish a constant presence in the media industry?
4) Who are my local media outlets?
5) What kind of a team do I have?
This leads to…
6) So we have some media coverage, now what?
If you’re a coach, this part might involve swallowing your pride. Instead of wanting to focus on a very volleyball-centered story, it’s important to sell something the average sports fan can understand and appreciate. For example, instead of telling reporters that player x leads the conference in kills, talk about how that player spends one day a week volunteering at the nursing home and is an aspiring chemist or has another interesting hobby or talent. The fact he or she is having a tremendous year on the court will be what ties the story together. Think big picture and off the court, so then once they’re lured in with an interesting feature idea it can tie into on-court issues. Once you have them, then the volleyball education process begins.
This is a great example of AVCA DIII All-American Ellis Walsh from Nazareth College…
As far as promoting your squad as a whole to bring media coverage of a match, unfortunately there is no magic secret. However, what works best is having a winning team. That’s something everyone can relate to and rally around regardless of the sport.
If your squad is 5-18 you will definitely be fighting an up-hill battle for coverage, so that makes it even more important to focus on the players’ back stories.
So the bottom line is to think backwards. It’s not as much about what they’re doing on the court as much as what they’re doing off the court.
Let’s use this as a line of communication to discuss what has worked and what hasn’t. Feel free to post a comment on this blog to share the wealth of knowledge!
Stay tuned next week as I’ll talk about the next two questions!