With both of my parents and older brother all working in sports public relations in some capacity, I dreamt of following in their steps and joining “the family business.” Focused on attaining that goal, I hadn’t opened myself to other aspects of the profession nor realized how sports PR could fit in with other types of PR, like agencies.
Now working at Dittoe Public Relations, I’ve seen how similar working at an agency can be to in-house sports PR, along with the distinct differences that distinguish them both. I’ve also seen how agencies can be a worthwhile investment for sporting teams, events, publications and more looking to build and enhance their brands.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how sports and agency PR compare and contrast and expand on how agencies – such as Dittoe PR – can partner with teams and other sports organizations to maximize their stature in the ever-evolving media landscape.
In-house Sports PR vs. Agency PR
Due to the widespread popularity of most sports, there is a built-in understanding of the subject matter for the media in what they’re covering. Couple this with the celebrity appeal teams have with some of their athletes, and the media is often eager to engage with a team’s PR representatives for as much information and “inside access” as they can get, rather than the representatives having to go to the media and create interest in their team or athletes. The information sports PR representatives can share is a delicate balance. Oftentimes they have to withhold some information from the media to avoid any misunderstandings or leaks that could impact internal cohesiveness.
Agencies, on the other hand, often approach the media with a range of topics on behalf of their clients to secure potential coverage. Agencies have to develop a story to share with media, as more often than not, these clients won’t have the same high-profile appeal that many sports teams and their athletes do. Through a targeted and strategic media outreach strategy, PR agencies utilize their resources and abilities to leverage the client’s narrative and create an understanding of the subject matter and brand awareness with the desired media.
Whether promoting sports, construction or anything in between, the importance of storytelling and presenting a cohesive and compelling narrative will always be paramount. Introducing your client or organization in a unique and personable way – to the right media at the right time – can influence consumer behavior, from buying a ticket to a game or enrolling in new services.
Consumers engage with and purchase from brands they trust and feel a connection to. Today, it’s almost as important to leverage the individuals alongside the brand, which is why social media has been so important for professional athletes and company executives alike in getting their messages out to their fans and followers. All PR professionals utilize social channels to bolster individuals and their brands, which adds to a consumer’s overall awareness and the brand’s trustworthiness.
In-house and agency PR also share the importance of building and maintaining relationships with the media, which is vital across all facets of PR. Strong relationships with journalists and reporters can pay dividends in securing coverage. PR professionals have to earn journalists’ trust and respect, which is why we make it a priority to have as many connections as we can with the media.
During my internships in the NTT IndyCar Series, I made a point to introduce myself to every journalist in the media center of the respective circuit we were at, creating strong relationships with many that continue to this day even though I am not currently working in the series. I use that same mentality when it comes to working with reporters and journalists in my current role, as you never know when that connection will pay off.
Agencies & Sports
Public relations agencies can offer beneficial alternatives to in-house PR many teams and organizations currently utilize, one of which being agencies’ broad experience.
Many agencies – including Dittoe PR – do not specialize in any one industry, showcasing the diverse experience these pros have in leveraging different types of clients in various media. This experience across multiple industries makes agencies attractive to those in the sports industry because chances are, you’ll find an agency that has already worked with and garnered coverage in a market or outlet your organization is targeting. The PR team can use similar tactics and strategies unique to your organization to provide similar results.
Dittoe PR recently partnered with Indiana University Press to help promote the release of a new photograph book, Chasing Indiana’s Game: The Hoosier Hardwood Project. This book, created by professional photographers Chris Smith and Michael E. Keating, documents over 100 of Indiana’s most legendary basketball landmarks as a visual tribute to the legacy, community and continuity of the sport in Indiana. Dittoe PR was tasked with increasing awareness of the book across the state of Indiana and nationally ahead of its mid-August release. Dittoe PR reached out to media in locations around the state that were documented in the book, along with national sports and news publications to spread the word of the book’s release beyond Indiana state lines. This outreach campaign so far has resulted in more than 50 media hits and more than 2 million media impressions in outlets such as Inside Indiana Business, the Evansville Courier Press, WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne and more.
Additionally, an agency’s experience probably means they have worked directly in the sports industry already. Another sports-related client Dittoe PR works with is the BMW Championship, one of the most important golf events on the PGA TOUR and part of the FedExCup Playoff series. For this year’s BMW Championship that recently took place at Olympia Fields Country Club outside of Chicago, Dittoe PR’s media outreach campaign resulted with secured coverage in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MSN news, the Chicago Tribune and many more outlets in Chicago and nationwide.
The unique and varied experiences agency PR professionals have can bring new ideas, strategies and capabilities to the sports industry that in-house professionals may not have in their arsenal. No matter the specialty of a business or organization, a strong PR strategy makes the difference between winning and losing in today’s media environment.
Interested in how Dittoe PR’s expertise can bring a winning strategy to your organization? Contact Lauryn Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.