Is Media Training the Same as Social Media Training?
For quite some time, athletic departments have been intentional about working with their student-athletes on how to deal with the media. Many programs will bring in outside specialists to speak with students on this topic. They’ll address issues such as handling yourself in a press conference, journaling essential pointers before talking to a journalist for a story in the paper, interviewing with a sports reporter for a spot during the 6:00 news, etc. They will go through a number of scenarios that a player may face throughout the course of the season, preparing them to represent both themselves and the university in a positive, confident, intelligent fashion. Without question, this is a terrific and necessary service. There is a misperception, however, that media training is the same as social media training – or even worse, the firms who provide media training are adding 5-10 minutes to the end of their presentation to discuss social media, and labeling it “social media training.”
The two topics couldn’t be more different – and the skillset needed to properly educate student-athletes on each are just as unique.
One requires human interaction, making eye contact and carrying on a conversation relevant to a specific topic – the game that just happened or will happen that week. A message that is generally limited to the readers/viewers of that publication, website or channel – though obviously accessible and shared on the Internet, which is kind of a big deal these days. Providing media training typically requires having some experience in front of a camera and/or interviewing subjects for news stories (print or otherwise).
The other involves a tool that student-athletes use multiple times each day. A tool that broadcasts every message they send to 2 billion people with Internet access. Messages that fans, boosters, opponents and the media specifically subscribe to by following them on Twitter or friending them on Facebook. Providing social media training requires having experience with social media beyond updating your Facebook status so that your family can keep up with you. Preferably, someone providing social media training will have worked with businesses and/or individuals in developing social media strategies – this, of course, is in addition to actually using social media themselves to build a network and connect with people.
Very few student-athletes will deal directly with the media. Such access is generally limited to “high profile” athletes and/or seniors – though the skills learned are valuable to all, especially later in life as they prepare for job interviews and variety of other face to face interactions in business.
Conversely, nearly every student-athlete will post to Twitter and Facebook approximately 6 times today. And tomorrow. And the next day. This is why social media education is such a crucial piece when it comes to developing student-athletes to be successful outside of sports.
A simple Google search reveals that many of the firms who offer an all-inclusive “media training” package do not utilize social media. Some have a business Twitter account, but have never used the platform on a personal level. Others don’t have a Twitter account at all – personal or professional. Given that truth, it’s no wonder student-athletes aren’t utilizing social media well. It’s not about number of followers – though that is a small factor. It’s about actually using (or not using) social media.It’s hard to teach/train about something you’re unfamiliar with.
When it comes to using social media, how does Fieldhouse Media stack up? Take a look:
Student-athletes are smart enough to see through this.
When you have experience with a topic, you have stories to tell. You have a real message to convey rather than just paraphrasing an article you’ve read. You have successes and failures to share, and you can connect with your audience at a real level. This is why Fieldhouse Media doesn’t offer media training. If and when we do, we’ll have somebody on our staff who is an expert in that area.
So advise and train your student-athletes on how to communicate with the media. How to handle interviews from a variety of outlets, both internal and external. It’s a valuable tool that will help them now and down the road. Just make sure you are investing in the same expertise in educating them on how to use social media.
We can’t blame student-athletes for poor use of social media if we’re not providing them with the right training.
Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to helping student-athletes and coaches use social media in a positive, appropriate way through education and monitoring. To find out more about us or to join the growing list of schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.