Why professional athletes need media training
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has begun – where the personal and sponsored brands of more than 6,600 athletes will be on show to an audience of millions.
Companies pay big money in sports sponsorship – more than US $62.7 billion was invested globally last year alone. The intention? To increase sales off the publicity of brand ambassadors.
Athletes must therefore embody a brand and represent it in a positive way – in both their public and personal lives.
We’ve all seen the headlines of when an athlete did or said the wrong thing in a press conference or when asked questions by a journalist. This damages their brand and threatens their sponsorship deals.
Learning what to say and how to say it is essential for athletes. Dealing with the media is now part and parcel of being a high-profile sporting star – and that’s why media training is essential.
In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, I’d like to share with you three areas where media training can be particularly helpful for athletes.
1. Planned media events
Sporting codes, clubs and institutions go to great lengths to organise media events to showcase their talent. Think about the post-match press conference, the side-line interview, the pool-side vox pop, the open training session.
Athletes need to look comfortable, calm and confident, particularly when being asked questions about their performance. They need to be honest and respectful and stick to their message.
2. Social media posts
Almost every professional athlete has official social media pages. These maintain their relevance and allow them to connect with fans, while also acting as another platform for showing off their brand associations.
These are not to be confused with personal accounts. Athletes need to be professional, warm and engaging on these sites – to ensure their brand is maintained.
3. Crisis communications
As a celebrity, it’s not just sporting performance that can make headlines. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen scandals erupt about an athlete’s behaviour outside the sporting arena. Crisis communications is a vital way to learn how to ride the storm and deal journalists. How you act and respond to the media could determine how the public views you, which brands will continue to sponsor you and in some cases, if and how your career will continue.