Sports have always had the ability to bring people together. Sports leagues like the NFL and NBA have massive television deals and large fan bases that support them. Local high school sports have the advantage of the local interest of friends and families of young players. So how can a local professional sports team gain more traction in the media? In this article, I will discuss three ways local teams can garner more media attention and reach their fans on a larger scale.
Establish a Relationship with Local Media.
PR professionals for local teams must create a relationship with local media. Many news outlets simply don’t have the staff to cover events other than the most essential local high school sporting events. Creating these relationships with local journalists goes a long way towards promoting your team. By packaging highlights of games and sending them postgame quotes, you can help journalists write and broadcast stories that will reach your local audience. Even if they don’t run your highlights the first time, communication with local journalists will be helpful in the future if they are looking for a story to cover.
Engage in Community Events.
Promote community events to reach your audience directly. By focusing your attention on your local fans, you can create a more personal relationship with them. Conducting meet and greets, information tables, and volunteering are just a few different ways to interact with your community. Initiating your involvement with local events will give you free publicity and help improve your image with fans.
Many local professional sports organizations struggle simply because locals don’t know that they are even there. Unlike major sporting events, casual sports fans won’t go out of their way to find local sports games to attend. That means as an advocate for your team, you will need to intentionally reach out to local festivals, fairs, or anywhere else that large groups of people will gather. Even if people don’t spend much time interacting with your booth, they will know that you are there.
Invite Local School Groups and Clubs.
Finally, invite local school groups and clubs to attend your events. By inviting these groups, you will gain fans, as well as potential fans through the parents and families of the youth in these groups. If your organization has extra tickets, providing these groups with a free experience is a good investment. Kids can be ambassadors for a team, especially when they are given opportunities to engage with players before or after games. Additionally, parents are always looking for events to create experiences and memories — especially in the summer months — which gives local sports teams an opportunity to host events for families, even if they don’t play during the summer.
None of these steps are a one-size-fits-all approach to public relations. Each team has different circumstances — as well as different challenges — that come with their sport and the area in which they are located. Still, by taking these three steps, your local sports organization can increase fan engagement and help provide your organization with a positive image in its community.
It will always be difficult to compete with national sports, but by engaging with your community, you can reach your fans and audience in a way that national sports will never be able to. Providing affordable access and interaction is the most effective way to grow your fan base and reach your audience.
Jacob Taylor is a senior journalism and mass communications major at Samford University. With a concentration in public relations and print media, in addition to a minor in sports media, he is looking to pursue a career in sports journalism after graduation. Jacob is currently an intern for Birmingham Legion FC, a soccer team in the USL Championship professional soccer league. You can connect with Jacob via LinkedIn.