By Dr. Bill Welker
Now more than ever, scholastic coaches must form a partnership with the media in their surrounding area. They should take full advantage of the news media, not ignore it. A coach who does not promote good public relations with news media is cheating both his athletes and the community at large. It is imperative that coaches should be prepared (at all times) to supply the media with the latest team developments.
The following 12 guidelines will assist coaches in establishing a solid rapport with the local media.
GUIDELINES FOR CREATING GOOD MEDIA RELATIONSHIPS
- Send a roster of team members along with a team schedule to the sports editor before the season begins.
- Supply the sports editor with fresh, updated information.
- Always be available for interviews and pictures.
- Be optimistic. Keep a positive, but sensible outlook on the team's chances for success. Never undersell opponents or degrade your athletes for a poor performance.
- Be smart. Speak positively about the media. Never downgrade a sports editor or reporter in public or in front of your athletes.
- Keep the sports editor's name and phone number handy. Call in all scores on time. Note: Some people in the community mistakenly blame the media for not reporting game scores. In reality, the coach failed to call in the scores on time.
- Even when you lose, it is very important that you phone in the scores.
- Report the facts. A reporter is not interested in publishing alibis or complaints about poor officiating.
- Stress the high points of the meet. Have them ready to go when calling in the scores.
- When something newsworthy happens on your team (or elsewhere), inform the media immediately.
- As you discuss the competition with a reporter, single out great individual performances, but don't forget to commend the entire squad for its dedicated efforts during the game.
- Most importantly, courtesy counts. Show your appreciation by inviting the sports editor to your sports banquet or awards assembly.
Most coaches work many long hours (Monday through Sunday) to develop competitive teams. Likewise, they must realize that their athletes’ efforts deserve the backing of every area sports enthusiast. Hence, in order to build a strong following, they must keep the public up to date on their team's progress through positive public relations with the local media.
Coaches who don't have time for the news media are not only slighting their athletes, but they are also hurting their sport. No coach should ever want that to occur.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Bill Welker, a former Pennsylvania state champion, has been the wrestling rules interpreter and clinician for the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission since 1989. He was named the 1990 West Virginia Official of the Year. Dr. Welker has also been honored as the 2001 Section 2 Distinguished Active Official and 2002 National Wrestling Official of the Year by Wrestling USA Magazine. In 2003, Bill Welker was selected as the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) Wrestling Official of the Year.