Media Guide 101
In prior months we’ve discussed writing press releases and increasing game coverage. Today we’re taking you through the steps of creating your media guide for the upcoming season.
Media Guide Beginners
For those who are new to front offices, creating a media guide can feel like an overwhelming task. If your team has a rich history and a great archives manager, you may soon find you have more information than you know what to do with but, for those just starting out, let’s tackle the basics of the media guide.
1) What is the purpose of a media guide?
The media guide provides basic facts regarding the roster players on your team.
2) Who uses a media guide?
Members of the print and broadcast media use the guide in different ways to help them develop stories surrounding your team. One of the biggest ways both use a guide is to identify players by their numbers. This is especially helpful when reviewing photographs provided for print.
3) How does a media guide help our team?
When you provide the media with the tools to cover your team, without having to pick up a phone, track someone down during the game or write an email for detailed information, you increase your team’s likelihood of coverage.
4) What should be in a media guide?
At a bare minimum, your guide should include the following details:
A headshot of every player on your active roster
The date and country of birth of each player
Position(s) played by each player
The player’s jersey number
What year the player began playing for your team at the current level
A pronunciation guide for each player name on the roster
Media guides do not have to be printed. When they are, they can be in black and white. Having a guide on your website under a tab entitled, MEDIA will direct sources to the spot, no matter what language your site might be in.
We recommend emailing a PDF link to your media guide including these basic facts - along with a team photo and individual, labeled with jersey numbers, headshots of each player, in square format – to your local sports media as well as any international media related to your sport. Be sure to include photographer credit information to ensure the photos will be used as publications will not go live without copyright clearance.
Generally speaking, the media will not download or open attachments so the link is your best option. If you track your link, you can also see how often it is being opened over the course of the season.
This will not only save the media hours of research online when a photographer they send to shoot a game has a photo the publication would like to use in a story, it will remind them you are in season once again. Most importantly, it will show them you are interested in their coverage because you are providing them with the tools they’ll need to do a great job.
The details you provide should be available in at least English or, English and your country’s native language. All media have English-speaking staff and, often-times, for our sports, you’ll get an English reporter because the only people on staff likely to know the games well enough to cover them will be import journalists.
Include in the guide the contact details to an English-speaking press representative for the club along with their photo. It can be a player or a coach if your office staffers only speak your native language. This just helps the international media locate the best person fast during games.
If your club has multiple sports with top-tier teams, you can combine the guide to have a section for each team within. That should save you on production costs and may increase interest in coverage as well.
We only recommend this however when all teams included are on the same playing level. For example, if your softball team is Bundesliga I but your baseball team is Bundesliga II, we would not recommend the combination.
Media guides are only necessary for the top team in each sport, for each gender, in your local community. Do not include information about little leagues or the junior national teams. Separating the youth programs from the top adult teams will help the team appear professional and worthy of equal coverage to other professional sports in your area.
We recommend the same separation on your website as well. This avoids confusion for media interested in your team but who are not native speakers of your mother language. Going to a site you expect to be for professional players and seeing photos of 12-year olds at practice is definitely confusing and may result in you losing coverage through misunderstanding.
Feel free to send us your media guide
If you feel confident supplying the basic information and are looking to expand your guide to be a bit more helpful to the press in their coverage, here are some additional details that will assist them on the job.
The following three items are incredibly helpful to broadcasters. Filling inning after inning of airtime can be daunting. In the heat of play, knowing how to say a person’s name is really handy too!
Personal details about the players that they are comfortable sharing publicly
Including personal details doesn’t have to mean marriage status, where they work or the names of family members. Stick with their playing history. Where have the played? How many seasons? Any awards? How about national team appearances? Stick to just their senior-level accomplishments but you can mention junior successes for those new to the top level and still young enough to be active on both national teams.
Stats for last two seasons for active players
Stats during a broadcast are always great for helping announcers spot patterns and predict at-plate behaviors. This will help the print media as well. Being able to see how a player is performing year-to-year helps us locate talent on the rise as well as those likely to peak in a season.
Name Pronunciation guide
Make sure to have a native English-speaker help you with this if you don’t have a linguist in your offices. The majority of people using the guide will be broadcasting in English at international events. If you review the gallery below, you’ll see how speaking the language can look different than pronouncing it from your native tongue/alphabet.
Remember, the majority of the media who cover you may not be at your park at all throughout the season. The more you can give them, in terms of background details regarding your players and their professional history with your club, the more likely you are to get covered all the same.
*Tip: When you team travels to tournaments, make sure to pack some guides in their luggage. Designate a reliable, English-speaker to help get them into the hands of the folks in charge of media for the event. At any tournament there are media tents where the press can pick up materials that help them do their job better. At these events covering the big teams is obvious but there are dozens of games that go on throughout the course of a week. Having a guide might be the deciding factor in a journalist giving your team a look.
The gallery below includes pages from a few different MLB 2017 guides. These, along with the excellent example set by the Czech Softball national team during the 2017 European Championship, also included, should get you well on your way to considering all the possibilities your team would like to include in your guide.
If you’re a well-established team with a long-history and plenty of great archived materials, use them to your advantage.
If your team has a great new facility this is also an excellent opportunity to help the media become better acquainted with your offerings.
If your guide is more than 20 pages it should include a table of contents for ease of use.
Does your team have a strong, active board or front office staff? Include their bios and photos at the end of the guide. The one exception is the media staff/contacts. Those should go on your opening pages.
One handy feature is including all the teams in your league with their address and press contact details. This helps the media immensely.
Let’s say you have a freelance journalist who happens to be on holiday in your area. They decide to go to your game. Imagine how much stronger their interest in creating an article about the game will be if they learn about other teams they could also cover to increase the appeal – and therefore sales pitch – of the article to any publications they approach for work.
As for that historical data, let your team archivist have at it. Decide first how big you want the guide to be. We recommend no more than 100 pages. You can then include the following details:
Team All Time Stats
Full stats for each player
Complete player biographies
History of club players in other leagues like the MLB and/or NPF
Stadium overviews are also a great addition. The park’s history and capacity in a snapshot page are really helpful fill details for the media. Broadcasters will always want to gauge attendance, help the folks at home get a feel for the environment, so knowing capacity helps.
Creating a page that addresses media on-site needs such as press box location, broadcast set-up capabilities like camera bays or broadcast booths and contact details, will go a long way to gaining coverage.
We also recommend dedicating a WIFI code for the media and explaining in the guide how to access it. Tracking this code helps you know when media are on-site.
Ticket staff should have guides and press passes on-hand as well as a system in place for alerting the right folks on your staff that the press are in-house.
One quick way to help identify the outlet for them, so that they can follow up on the coverage, is to have the staff take a business card in exchange for a media guide. If you have a separate media person and team archivist, make a copy so that both have it in-hand.
The point of the guide is the give the media access without disturbing your staff’s game day flow with information requests and set up needs. Everything they should need from you in order to access the internet or facilities, should be included.
If your press box offers food or beverage to reporters, this is another helpful tip for the media to have before they settle into the box. Finally, the location of the nearest bathroom facilities – in relation to the booths and/or media platforms in the outfields - is an invaluable piece of information for folks handling live broadcasts.
Your media guide should be an expression of your team’s interest in being covered by the media. If you are hoping for international coverage then make the guide English. If you have a large enough sports media pool in your area, keep it in your native language.
We recommend, at a bare minimum, that you make the roster international friendly to ensure that, when your team is on an international stage, such as WBSC, ESF or CEB events, the team is receiving equal air time to the rest of the competition.
All these events are handled in an English-speaking environment. Make sure you give your team every advantage to be seen on these international, well-covered, stages where the media is literally built into the events. Not taking advantage of these opportunities is disadvantaging your team.
Remember, it doesn’t do your staff or the club any good to just make a media guide. You need to make it easily accessibly on your website and you should be circulating it to the media – both in your park, and in your community. When the team hits the road, make sure they bring a few along, just in case a reporter approaches.
If you create a media tab on your website, we recommend including a photo gallery with select photographs that have copyright clearance, as well as photo credits, included. That way, in a pinch, the media can produce copy without waiting for assistance from your offices.
Definitely included in that gallery should be at least one headshot and one action shot close up of every active roster player. The photos should not be more than a season old and they should all be square framed, without watermarks and 300dpi in size or larger. If you have a team photographer, including their contact details in the gallery is also incredibly helpful.
Some times less is more. What is most important is making it clean, easy to carry and accessible to the media. Pretty is a bonus. Media are practical people. Give them what they need to get the job done well and they’ll cover you again.