Public relations are as important to a sports organization as the athletes, coaches, general managers and owners are.
The job of a public relations manager is to coordinate promotional material such as:
- Sports News Items
- Team Data
- Athlete Information To The Media
- Increase Public Interest
- Increase Team Visibility
- Fill The Stadium With Fans
Public relations people work long hours, usually seven days a week during the season and responsibilities include everything from meeting with news media people to overseeing printing and distribution of game programs.
Besides writing press releases and newspaper articles, public relations people respond to media and public information requests in a way that will put the most positive information concerning any situations that may arise.
In addition, public relations people:
- Organize Press Briefings
- Prepare Press Guides
- Maintain Team Historical Files
- Conduct PR Courses With Athletes And Coaches
One of the most important duties of public relations is to promote team unity and help the athletes psychological feelings after media criticism or public ridicule in addition to helping them respond in a positive manner.
When an athlete has a personal problem which may erupt in the media they often look to public relations for advice on how to handle it.
A good public relations person will always try to give positive reinforcement rather then degrade the athletes regardless of the situation.
In addition, public relations is always looking for ways to pump up the athletes by finding negative comments in the media from opposing athletes and posting them in the locker room.
Public relations people are always working to maintain a positive opinion of the team and its athletes with the fans in the community.
After all, if the fans have a negative opinion of the organization, they will not buy tickets and the stadium will be empty. Getting people in the seats is one of the most important jobs of a public relations person or department.
After all, when the seats are filled and the fans are cheering for the home town team, team morale remains high and when morale is up so is the athletes’ performance.
Professional teams use other methods as well to get fans to the games while building camaraderie between the fans and the team.
Minor and Major League Baseball teams have used many promotional gimmicks to get fans in the stands with free giveaways to the first 10,000 fans through the gates such as:
- Limited Addition Bobble Heads
- Team Caps And Hats
- Team Sports Cards
- Team Koozies
- Schedule Magnets
- Team Sunglasses
Fans enjoy free stuff and any type of contest or giveaway attracts crowds as well as building camaraderie between the fans and the team.
Creating publicity to make the fans feel confident is another challenge that faces public relations people as management wants fan backing when it has to make a hard decision that will affect athletes and coaches such as trading a favorite athlete or when they are forced to raise ticket, parking or concession prices.
One way to reach out to the local community is to take part in charitable events or organizations.
The public relations department provides opportunities for the athletes to be visible beyond the playing field and become active in the community.
Public relations employees target charitable organizations in which their athletes can appear at events in order to get them out into the community and impact the fans that cheer for them.
The goal of the public relations department is to create a favorable public opinion by using research techniques and communications media.
Giving the fans access to current team events and news while maintaining a positive opinion of through the media is the number one goal of the public relations department and this is usually accomplished with press releases.
The press release is the main instrument of publicity and provides the media with the raw material and background for a news story as the public relations department provides them with information about the athletes, staff and the organization.
Public relations departments have the power to influence a story, whether in a positive or negative light but it is very important to know that the media has the ability to embellish the way that a story is actually reported.
You have to remember that while the media will report the facts, it is up to you to make sure the facts reported are in a positive light.
BACKGROUND AND EDUCATION
While a Sports Management degree is a good start for anyone wanting to work in sports, when it comes to being involved in public relations writing and communication skills are essential.
In order to be a step ahead, it might be a good idea to gain experience while you are still in school by working at the school newspaper, radio or TV station, if there is one.
Internet journalism and desktop publishing can also be very helpful.
If you are majoring in Sports Management, you might also want to think about a minor in:
- Public Relations
In today’s high-stakes world of pro sports, public relations have become more important than ever.