Nurturing your relationships with journalists is crucial if you’re hoping to tell your story to a broader audience. Journalists in the sport industry are a passionate bunch. Be good to them and they’ll be great to you. So, how can you be good to them?
Journalist: “So, how was your race?”
“It went great!”
You: “I choked.”
Take for granted that a sports journalist has seen a thousand athletes before you, therefore they can smell bullshit a mile away. Except maybe for Lance Armstrong but you're not Lance so don’t even try. Sooner or later they’ll figure it out.
Don’t be afraid to tell the truth, even if it’s ugly. Not only will they respect you for it, they will be a lot more inclined to go easy on you than if you lie to them and they get the truth from another source.
Be a good sport
Telling a journalist the truth is all great but it comes with a price: they will one day or another write something you’re not going to be happy about. When that day comes, swallow your pride and deal with it.
Ever heard that ‘Bad press is good press’?
Leave the filters
Nowadays it seems like athletes are doing all they can to ‘protect’ their image and message. The 'brain dead interview' tactic that plagues professional hockey players is now making its way into other sports.
It's your chance to stand above the crowd by letting your personality speak rather than being a washed down version of yourself.
Don’t be afraid to piss off people… because you will.
Too many athletes wait until they retire to say what they think. It’s a mistake. Yes you need to use common sense for the sake of your reputation and to keep your sponsors. But remember that in order to build your reputation in the first place and to gain sponsors, you need to differentiate yourself from other athletes.
"You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."
Bottom line, embrace your personality, speak your mind and piss off people. It will undoubtedly make up for good interviews and will help you define your brand and your message.
Become a source
Sports journalists work their ass off day in day out to give us, athletes, some exposure. Help them out.
Becoming a source is not about going all gossip girl on your teammates. It’s about providing them with insights on how your sport works.
Keep in mind that a typical sport journalist’s job is to cover dozens of different sports… that each have dozens of different events or variations and are bound by hundreds of rules. That’s thousands of moving parts they have to deal with to do their jobs properly.
Become their go-to expert in your sport for the next time they are wondering what exactly is going on with your teammate’s Olympic selection.
Help them out when they are mistaken
It's inevitable that at some point, they will screw it up. Something will be off.
It's either going to be a thing only connaisseurs will notice or it will straight up ruin the article or the segment. It may even wrongfully put the concerned athlete in a delicate situation.
When shit happens, don’t crucify the journalist on Twitter. Instead, reach out to him pointing out where he messed up and provide the insight on the matter.
If the journalist is just straight up wrong and seems to have done it on purpose. Then engage conversation providing him with your point of view. If it make sense to do so, go ahead and take the conversation public.
Remember that you may be picking a fight with a pro and the odds are stacked against you. If you're unable to prove why the journalist is wrong, you may want to sit one out... for your own safety.
In media, the performance of a given piece is measured by the attention and engagement it generates. Count it in pageviews, likes, shares, retweets. It’s all good. It’s what motivates publishers to keep paying your favourite journalist to cover your sport.
So when you finally get featured in an article, do your best to make it perform. Get your audience to read/watch it, like it, tweet it, share it!