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Posted on 01.29.2015
Super Bowl Media Day: A Good Opportunity Gone Bad
Arguably the biggest “press availability” of the year is the annual Super Bowl Media Day. What is Media Day? Well, at its roots and best, it should give media from across the country and beyond a chance they certainly would not otherwise get – to interview the player from their hometown. To bring a “Nashville” or a “Des Moines” perspective to the readers, listeners and viewers back home.
Today, however, Media Day has become quite a circus. It’s the time when reporters and bloggers jockey to see who can capture the most outrageous, inappropriate or sensational quotes or footage. I’m sure there are still reporters there doggedly trying to just get a local or unique perspective on the spectacle that is the Super Bowl. God bless ‘em!!
But before you get turned off to the idea of holding a “media availability” before or after your event, remember that well managed (and not super-sized) media avails are a great tool. A reporter covering your event or press conference will hopefully take in the scope of the entire affair or announcement. But understand they will still want something more: the opportunity to ask their own questions and receive some information that’s perhaps different or more insightful.
And it typically benefits you – at least in positive news situations – to have the opportunity to talk to reporters in a bit more intimate circle or setting to frame and deliver your message specifically to them.
Here are a few tips for PR pros for orchestrating a well-managed media availability or “scrum:”
- Determine where you’ll hold it and when, and tell the media attending or planning to attend your event so they can plan. For instance, “Dr. Smith will be available to take questions in the ballroom foyer immediately after the awards ceremony.” It may be another room, or it may be a corner of the event space you’re in. Think about the backdrop. Do you want the company backdrop behind the podium in the shot? Then position your media avail accordingly.
- You can also include the fact that there will simply be a media availability with Dr. Smith at a certain approximate time in the media advisory distributed in advance so reporters know to expect to have access at that time and plan their schedules accordingly.
- Prepare your spokesperson. Remind him or her they’ll be doing a short media availability before or after the event (or even both) and review the key message you want to deliver and how you’ll bridge to that message. If there was relevant, breaking news in the hours before your event, decide how you’ll handle those questions. For instance, “I’m sorry, but we’re here to talk about tonight’s honorees so let’s keep our questions focused on them, please.”
- Get your spokesperson to the designated spot. If you’re holding your avail after the event, your spokesperson may be besieged by friends, colleagues and others who want to have a word. Be sure to keep your word to the media and get your spokesperson to the corner of the room or other location you designated. He or she may need a minute or two to breathe and gather their thoughts. That’s fine – but don’t fail to show up. Those burnt bridges are hard to cross next time.
- Manage the questions. If you only have five minutes, say “we only have five minutes.” If you’re only going to discuss the event and not the industry-related news that broke just prior, say, “We have five minutes and we’ll only be taking questions regarding the announcement.” If one reporter is “hogging” the time, jump in and ask if any of the others have questions. (They may not. They may simply want to capture the Q&A between other reporters and your spokesperson.)
- When time’s up and your spokesperson comes to the end of an answer, say “Thank you everyone” and try to get your principle moving. There may still be a question or two, and he or she may want to answer them, but try to stick to your guns. Otherwise you’ll be there too long and there are too many opportunities to get off track and off message.
- If reporters asked questions for which your team didn’t have immediate answers (or didn’t want to answer immediately), remember it’s your responsibility to follow up.
Have you managed a situation like this lately? What are your tips? And what do you think about Super Bowl madness!? We’d love to know.
Dana Coleman is a Vice President at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Dana’s blogs here. Connect with Dana at Dana@lovell.com or @lovelldc