Wanted: A One-Size-Fits-All Answer For Sports PR

Overseeing the public relations department at a sports marketing agency, you essentially wear two primary hats (realistically, it's more like a gazillion, but for the sake of time, let's go with two). One, you oversee the PR on behalf of the agency itself; case in point, securing a monthly guest column at MediaPost. The second is executing PR campaigns on behalf of the agency's clients, if and when there is a need. Let's explore the challenges of client-side PR.

I think it's safe to say that the majority of PR work we do for our sports marketing clients is around experiential marketing, i.e., promoting an event, a mobile tour, etc., via media relations, community relations and social media. Having worked in PR for over a decade, I know that the basics of how to approach the promotion of an event today have definitely evolved. No longer do you rely on snail mail or faxes to reach the right contact or newsroom.

Even relying on email alone is no longer enough; enter the rise of social media. According to a recent story from, 9 in 10 journalists claim to have investigated an issue further for their work due to information sourced from social media, with two-thirds claiming to have written a story that originated via social media.

As if finding the right contact wasn't difficult enough to begin with, especially in such a fragmented media landscape, the challenge now becomes how do you also interact with the writer/reporter in the most effective manner?

With the downsizing of media outlets every day, it's nearly impossible for traditional media database services such as Cision or Vocus to keep track of whom to contact, and how they prefer to be contacted. Just earlier this month, as an example, the Chicago Sun-Times cut key members of its newsroom; and as part of the AOL/Huffington Post merger, around 200 people were expected to lose their jobs.

But it's not all doom and gloom. While some traditional media outlets have suffered, it's been interesting to watch the rise of hyper-local outlets, such as or, at which the contributors write more from passion rather than as means to make a living. For sports in particular, you also have the rise of blog and fan networks, such as SB Nation, where you can connect with fans and sports bloggers from across country.

All of this begs the million-dollar question: How do you find and connect with the correct writer, blogger, reporter out there on behalf of your program? The good news is that, if you look hard enough, there are outlets/writers out there for nearly every sports and local niche. And for a big brand, if you connect with these smaller but targeted outlets through the PR effort, it speaks more about how the brand truly gets its audience and creates that "win-win" for the brand and the outlet.

The great thing about working in sports PR is that you have the opportunity to promote a wide variety of different programs across different sports, ranging from lacrosse to soccer to international weightlifting. The key to creating fan engagement through PR is in speaking to your targeted audience, which includes the writer, the blogger, etc., in an authentic matter.

Putting in the legwork to find that curling blog in Vancouver that may have missed Cision's radar will go just as far as that golden placement in the Vancouver Sun. For the majority of sports marketing programs, the goal has to be to try to hit both in order for your PR outreach to be successful.

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