Past The Press Box

Sports Information Directors beginning to value social media over mainstream coverage

One of the primary goals of public relations is to have any actions and events that highlight the subject in a positive light be covered and publicized by the mainstream media. Say you work on the media relations staff of a university athletic department and your school's basketball team spent part of Christmas Eve at a food shelter helping feed those are less fortunate; you want that covered. Well, stories like this—and other 'harder' news—may soon be covered and spread much differently.

Mike Enright, UConn's Associate Athletic Director/Communications, believes social media could change everything.

He believes the day may come where UConn fans will pay to read plus its Facebook and Twitter extensions to feed the appetite that sports sections used to fill. [...]

“Our athletic director (Jeffrey Hathaway) is emphasizing social media,’’ Enright said. “Forty percent of our budget is for development of social media. It’s where we’re going. It’s going to become more and more a focus of our job.’’

Social media presents a range of new opportunities and a complete increase in control of coverage for universities and professional sports teams but on the other side of the coin, this may present a whole new challenge for journalists.

Mike Enright goes on to explain how moving more coverage of UConn athletics in-house could bring in more money for the university.

Enright can envision a time (he estimated it was at least five years away) when UConn would limit the use of video of its coaches and teams on newspaper web sites similar to rules the NFL and Major League Baseball employ.

The school is exploring new revenue streams by selling ads to go along with its new emphasis on providing in-depth content, similar to the current newspaper/website models. [...]

“It used to be the job of an SID was to call the papers,’’ he said. “Now, if we’ve got a guy from Boston, we’re going to write the story ourselves and put it on our web site. The profile can be sponsored. We can say to our sponsors, why advertise in the Hartford Courant, advertise on’’

While big-time programs look to in-house coverage for an increase in revenue, others are just looking for a bit of depth. Rusty Eggen, Sports Information Director at Worcester Poly Tech, explains:

Eggen, whose school plays at the Division 3 level, recognizes that mainstream media has reduced its college cover and feels his school’s website ( is the best opportunity to reach his audience.

“If we get something in the T&G (Worcester Telegraph & Gazette), on Channel 3 (WCTR in Worcester) or in the Globe, it’s usually going to be short,’’ he said. “I’ll be able to tell the whole story on our web site.’’

This will have an interesting effect on the world of journalism as sources and subjects gain more power over what is covered and what is not. If newspapers hope to stay in the game they'll have to adapt somehow instead of watching as their ad revenue and coverage are stolen away.

Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (0) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end

The American Sportswriter_