Video: USA Football/MaxPreps High School Football Media Day hosted by the San Francisco 49ers
See the benefits of media interaction, via MaxPreps and an NFL team.
"I could just Xerox you a copy of the game plan and you can send it over to Kansas City and look at it. It might be easier for all of us." - A tremendous quote from Bill Belichick earlier this year, after being asked how he was planning on using a certain player.
If you're a high school coach, it is a safe bet that you're never going to face the daily media crush that Belichick faces. I love watching his press conferences. I could never be so monotone and emotionless with some of those folks!
The fact of the matter is that all head coaches will need to work with the media. Some coaches more than others.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I received an interview request when I became a head football coach back in 2003. I was excited to talk to this reporter because I had been reading his work for a few years. But I was also nervous. I knew that whatever I said would be out there for all of our kids, parents, teachers and community members to read.
Ever since that interview, I've had a great working relationship with the media. I've worked alongside three newspapers, and sought to develop relationships with a few reporters at each of the outlets. My philosophy in dealing with the media has always been to help them write the stories that will feature our student-athletes in a positive light.
As I have gotten to know some reporters, and maintained a relationship with some of them for going on 13 years now, I have heard that many coaches don't care much for the media. Reporters have thanked me for my willingness to communicate so well with them. When one reporter thanked me about six years ago, I asked "Don't most coaches do this stuff for you guys?" And he laughed.
Some coaches view the media as the enemy.
I spoke with a few reporters about ideas to help coaches understand the other side. One of the men I spoke with is Kevin Acee, a veteran sportswriter for San Diego Union Tribune who covers the San Diego Chargers. Like most in the media, he started his career covering prep sports when he was 19 years old.
Acee's most important piece of advice is to "Promote the kids. Know their back stories so you can give reporters a heads up to the cool stories. Parents and kids love that stuff, and the reporter will keep coming back for the coach who knows how the game is played. High school coaches are usually some of the best quotes and sources of information, because they aren't so full of themselves."
Jerit Roser has covered prep sports for many years in the southeast. He covered both LSU recruiting and high school sports for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, and is the founder of DatBoot.com. Roser shared three ides to working well with the media.
1. Be reasonable
"The foundation piece of advice I'd probably give to coaches dealing with the media is to just realize that media members are people too, just like coaches. Media members aren't just 'that media member here to cover my team.' Everyone has their own life and responsibilities going on outside of just the interactions they have with that person.
"The same way a coach may have some things going on behind the scenes that a media member might not know about, a media member might have some things going on behind the scenes that a coach may not know about -- whatever that may be at the time (scheduling or personal/health issue, etc.)."2. Be relational
"Don't think of media members as 'the enemy' by default. I've been fortunate to have a lot of great relationships with coaches, but there's no doubt that some coaches come into the coach-media relationship immediately skeptical or distrustful or even harsh to reporters.
"There's no doubt there are some sub-par reporters out there -- the same way there are sub-par members of any industry -- but most reporters want to do a good job, want to be fair (if not even positive) and want to give your team publicity. Don't be adversarial right of the bat. You might run off or ruin the relationship with a potentially useful ally.
A media member with whom you have a relationship of mutual respect with can be incredibly helpful for your program's image and exposure. A media member you immediately put at odds with yourself can be the opposite."
Acee adds to this idea of being relational. "Being accessible and forthcoming helps immensely. It helps you and your kids get publicity. If you don't like the media, at least tolerate them for the greater good. The media is easily manipulated. Give them some bones; they'll wag their tails and follow you anywhere."3. Be timely
"Try to respond in as timely a manner as possible. If you don't have time to talk long at that point, you can explain that you only have x amount of time to talk. If it's going to be a while before you can really talk, just let the reporter know how long it might be. Just be honest and responsive in that regard. If you're not going to be able to respond anytime remotely soon, let the reporter know not to waste their time waiting. Don't say it'll only be a couple minutes or an hour if you know it'll be much more, if at all. The amount of time reporters spend waiting on callbacks -- just so they can help put a spotlight on your kids -- would surprise you."Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.