Editor’s Note: with the original publication that this article was posted on set for imminent extinction, we brought this post over to The Sports Bank before it gets deleted. It originally ran in the summer of 2010, and we have updated it in some places.
Sports press releases are well-crafted statements that convey a highly controlled message to the masses. These days, many of them are just glorified spam, or consisting of messages that are one step away from Spam. It’s sad that teams spam their own media corps, but here we are.
Boston Celtics Interactive Media Director Peter Stringer made the statement that “the sports press release is dead” during his SES (Search Engine Strategies) Chicago presentation in 2010. He was one of three panelists for the “Social Media and Sports” presentation at the conference.
He was joined on the panel by San Francisco Giants Social Media Director Bryan Srabian It was moderated by Jamie Trecker, Senior Writer, Fox Sports and Fox Soccer Channel.
Stringer is right- by the time most get sent out to a given team’s media mailing list/posted on their website, the news has already been out for some time. That’s because everything needs to be official and finalized before the sports press release can go live.
Which only backs up Stringer’s point: by the time it hits the inbox of me, the reporter, the news is probably already old.
However, press releases make a good starting point for an article, because you have all the 5 Ws and the stats ready to copy and paste.
The quotes are USELESS though- I never copy those. PR professionals have told me these quotes are always made up, never actually said by the individual they’re attributed to. They’re written by the department, not said by the coach/player. And 99% of the time the quotes are cliche and dull. Standard boilerplate.
“We are pleased to announce our partnership with x.” “We are honored to welcome y to the x family.” BORING. Oh and every single time every game is mentioned, it includes the brand name, and the “presented by”.
Every. Single. Time.
Also you shouldn’t copy and paste press releases anyway (well beyond the obvious plagiarism issues), because one, “everyone has an agenda,” (this was my favorite soundbite of the panel) and two, Google penalizes duplicate content. So PRs are a good starting point, but not a stand alone end product.
Anything about tickets is just marketing masquerading as news. The whole “beware fake tickets for this big game” is a total scam.
Because those press releases come with an ending that reads “only use this trusted ticket broker- our partner” at the end. Obvious tomfoolery and flim flammery. Besides the whole “tickets go on sale at date X, time Y” thing is just promo as well. It’s not a reporter’s job to advertise ticket sales. Press releases about naming rights come with a folder of “media assets,” and those include an entire folder of just product photos.
Also, the Chicago Cubs would like you to know, repeatedly, how you can interview someone from their paint partner as they re-paint the Wrigley Field marquee. The Cubs would also want you to know about their credit card company partner, and how you can use them for the tickets presale.
Oh and the college football bowl game naming rights partner renewed. You’re covering the game? Well, we’ll make sure you get that press release at least 27 times.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.