Sports PR creates a niche that goes beyond having a love for the game. John Denton, a sports PR agency specialist from Otter PR, knows well how to parlay a passion for sports into a successful PR career.
John Denton speaks at length about passion, not only for the individual sports themselves but for pulling out the stories and getting them out into the world. Having started as a player and then enjoying a long career as a sports journalist, Denton knows stories and knows the audience. “You have to match equal amounts of passion and knowledge,” Denton advises. His time as a player and a fan has allowed him to “talk the talk” with clients. Having been immersed in the world, he knows it well. That familiarity puts clients at ease and builds a trust that is integral to any good publicist/client relationship.
He shares some solid advice for succeeding in the sports PR firm niche and bringing stellar coverage to your clients.
- Master Your Niche
Because being a superfan will only get you so far, study up on the ins and outs of athletics: the rules of the games, the hierarchy of players and management, and what fans are interested in concerning their favorite teams and players. You have to become an expert in your client’s world in order to give you insight, as a publicist, into what the outlets will want to publish. Clients, in turn, want to work with publicists who understand them and the world they inhabit. Being entangled in the sports world as an athlete requires a publicist with an exceptional understanding of that lifestyle.
As a great example of this in action, John was able to utilize his experience as a college athlete to develop a program to represent NCAA student athletes and help them navigate changing NCAA Name, Image, and Likeness rules. His experience and knowledge of the niche has provided Otter PR and the clients John represents gain athlete sponsorship opportunities, build personal brands, and prepare for the next level.
- Communicate Effectively
Effective communication applies to all PR, and also harkens back to knowing your niche. Learning how to effectively pitch media outlets and align your client’s brand with what the outlet may be looking for is how you take your PR career to the next level. Great publicists know how to pitch effectively. That’s why they are hired! Keeping pitches interesting, concise, and peppered with information the outlet needs to know will keep your clients in the media. This powerful grasp of good communication makes for happy clients all around.
Example: Would you like to interview award-winning college quarterback John Doe about his incredible season and his off-the-field work as a Big Brother/Big Sisters volunteer?
This pitch tells the outlet who your client is, the fact that he had a winning season, and a story worthy of telling beyond the game he plays, all in one sentence. This information sets your client apart and gives the media outlet an intriguing angle to follow.
In sports, there is a constant stream of news-worthy stories. One season overlaps with another, and every year there are triumphs, tragedies, and stand-out players deserving recognition. People follow sports because not only are the games exciting and entertaining, but the behind-the-scenes stories can often be exhilarating as well. Learning how to effectively communicate about exciting stories and get media coverage of those stories separates good sports publicists from great ones.
- Unique Story Angles
John Denton spent a long time writing about sports, so he knows a good story when he sees it. The public loves a great redemption story in sports. Think Rudy or Hoosiers. Presenting sports stories that appeal to more than just superfans is a great way to increase attention for your client.
Sometimes, there can be a direct tie-in with current events that you can relate to your client.
Example: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s winning season with the Bucks and his purchasing stake in the Milwaukee Brewers could relate to a story about committing to a city, a state, and a team through winning or losing seasons. This relates not only to the interests of sports fans but people who love to hear stories about people taking an interest in promoting their cities.
- Manage Deadlines and Expectations
The sports world moves quickly, and sports publicists have to move quickly with it. There are tight deadlines, and the timing could be everything when it comes to a great story or relatable angle.
Approach journalists for their job and know that they sometimes receive hundreds of pitches a day. Making your pitches too long or too chock-full of information not relevant to your story angle will lessen the chances of it being fully read or considered.
Much like needing to research individual sports, you need to be educated on your sports media outlets as well. What are their submission guidelines? What kind of stories do they want, and what pitches are more likely to spark their interest?
Managing the expectations of media outlets will ensure better coverage for your clients.
Sports PR is an exciting and fast-paced public relations niche. By aligning your clients’ individual brands with the expectations of the various sports outlets and knowing your audience inside and out, a successful sports PR career can flourish.