Social Media in Sports Broadcasting
Posted by darrenalley
The purpose of my project is to study the effects of social media on sports broadcasters. Their daily work life has been totally changed by social media. Twitter and Facebook make the way broadcasters go about their job much different. It has caused a shift in the way broadcasters present news as well as how fans receive news.
In this project I will examine many areas of social media in the sports broadcasting world. To understand why social media has such an effect on broadcasting, its history needs to be looked at briefly, with the focus being put on Facebook and Twitter. There has been a gradual shift amongst broadcasters to social media for a variety of reasons. The simplicity of breaking and gathering news over social media and the immediacy of the medium are a couple factors that have caused the change. While by now many broadcasters have adapted, there are the ones who still haven’t. Social media has also created a social aspect between fans and broadcasters that has never existed before. I’ll also take a look at social media as a tool for self branding and promoting. Finally I’ll discuss what the future potentially holds for sports broadcasting.
Social media began as a tool for people to communicate easily over the Internet, but it has become so much more. Facebook was the first social media site I used, as is the case with a lot of people. At first I used it for exactly what it was made for, social interaction. Over time I found it was useful for other things. Gathering news and learning new things was quicker and easier over Facebook than anywhere else. Then I joined Twitter. It took me a while to get into it, but once I learned how to use it properly it became one of the most important tools in my life. The information available over Twitter is endless. The fact that I could customize what I wanted to see by following certain people definitely had an appeal. Having a large interest in sports, I’ve found many sports related people to follow to expand the amount of information I receive. It’s definitely worked for me, as Twitter is now where I get almost all of my sports news. If anything breaks in the sports world, I have to ability to know within seconds because of Twitter.
This project focuses on Facebook and Twitter more than other social media sites. While there are other relevant ones out there, these are the two most popular in relation to the spread of sports news. While the effects of blogging, vlogging and other web resources have been considered in this project, the focus remains on Facebook and Twitter. These are the two sites that change the daily life of sports broadcasters the most, so I decided to stay focused on them.
Chapter one deals with the history of social media. Facebook and Twitter both have very particular stories when it comes to how they started up. This chapter helps give context for the rest of the project. To understand how social media is changing sports media, there needs to be at least a small understanding of how it began.
In chapter two I’ll be looking at how sports broadcasters have adapted to social media and why. The general public has flocked to Facebook and Twitter, and sports broadcasters have followed for the most part. Not all broadcasters have taken to social media though, which is another topic I will touch on in this chapter.
Chapter three is all about the social aspect in sports. It’s an extremely social industry and social media has made it more so. Fans can communicate with players and broadcasters at any time and about anything. Social media has created immediate discussion amongst millions of people. It’s changed the way all people react to sports.
Chapter four deals with self-branding and promoting using social media and other web tools. Creating a good online profile is helpful for an up and coming broadcaster, or one already in the industry. It can help someone get a job, gain credibility and many other things. It’s important for people to understand how to properly create a presence online.
Finally chapter five is about the future of sports broadcasting. Media is constantly changing, and social media has caused a very large change. These changes are not going to stop. Whether it happens through social media or some other medium, sports broadcasting and broadcasting as a whole will continue to change based on technology.
A number of industry professionals were interview for this project. One of these people is Steve Glynn. Known in the industry as Steve Dangle, he created a brand for himself over social media. Starting as a video blogger, he has interned at The Fan 590 in Toronto, and worked for multiple outlets including Nike, Leafs TV and Real Sports. He is currently an associate producer for CBC, and does work for Hockey Night in Canada.
Jeff Marek is an example of a broadcaster who was around before social media but has adapted. Throughout his career he has worked for The Fan 590, AM 640 Toronto and CBC. He is currently doing radio and television hosting for Sportsnet. He also co-hosts a podcast which is promoted through social media.
Jay Onrait is one of the most well known sports anchors in Canada. He has been around Canada for broadcasting, but currently hosts Sportscentre on TSN. Like Marek, Onrait also co-hosts a podcast and promotes it through Twitter. He also uses social media as a place for discussion.
Tieja MacLaughlin has worked at many levels of broadcasting with the Kitchener Rangers, Rogers TV, The Ottawa Senators, and Rogers Sportsnet. Her work with Sportsnet as their Friday Night Hockey Social Media Liaison makes her the perfect person to speak to for this topic.
Clayton Hansler does on air broadcasting work with Leafs TV. His career so far has been focused mostly on covering the Toronto Marlies. He uses social media as a way to spread news he hears and to converse with people about hockey.
James Cybulski has been around in broadcasting and currently hosts ‘Cybulski and Company’ on TSN 1050 in Toronto. He uses social media to promote guests and segments on his show. He also uses it to get opinions from fans and to gain show content.
Jeff Veillette is a blogger for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Marlies and other things. He has a vast knowledge of social media based on the amount he uses it. Being a person who is trying to break into broadcasting, Jeff has a lot of insight as to how he’s doing that using social media.
Paul Hendrick has worked for many broadcast outlets covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. His work has been seen on Rogers Sportsnet, Leafs TV and more. He often uses social media to promote what he’s doing and to break news.
Chapter 1: The History of Social Media
Social media is an extremely modern medium, being barely a decade old. It’s still in its early years and hasn’t fully developed as of yet. This can make it something that isn’t particularly simple to understand. In fact, people may be somewhat surprised at just how social media is used.
Social media is seen mostly as a medium to enhance one’s social life, and really that’s how it began. Sites such as MySpace and Friendster were created to help people communicate with one another about things that are more social without having to speak on the phone or in person. However, social media has developed to be so much more than that. Facebook and Twitter are the most commonly known social media sites, and that’s why they’ve both become not only a site for social interaction, but a place for people who have no previous relationship to share information, and possibly even interact. To understand how this has happened, a look at the history of both Facebook and Twitter are necessary.
Facebook actually got its start in a Harvard dorm room. Creator Mark Zuckerberg, a Computer Science and Psychology student at the school started by making the site ‘Facemash’ in October 2003. It was set up as a type of ‘hot or not’ game for the students at Harvard. To do this, he actually hacked into the school’s social website and stole student’s profile pictures. He then posted them online so two pictures would be posted next to each other, at which points students can choose which one they believe to be the better looking of the two. Within four hours of its launch, Facemash had over 450 visitors and over 22,000 photo views.
Zuckerberg expanded on this original idea with ‘The Facebook’ in early 2004. At first it was a way for students at the University can communicate socially with each other. The site became popular mostly by word of mouth, and within 24 hours had over 1200 registrants. More than half of Undergraduate students at Harvard were signed up within a month. However, the service was originally limited to students at Harvard. Zuckerberg knew what this was capable of, and expanded in March 2004 to Stanford, Columbia and Yale. The site gradually became more popular, eventually expanding to most universities in Canada and the United States.
In 2005, the site dropped ‘the’ from its name, and became ‘facebook.com.’ The expansion then continued to the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Mexico, etc. A high school version was launched later than year, while the global expansion continued in Australia and New Zealand. Finally, in September of 2006 Facebook was opened up to the general public age 13 or over.
Why is all this so important? Well in less than three years, Facebook went from being a hot or not site for Harvard students to being one of the most popular websites in the world. Now Facebook has over one billion users worldwide. That means nearly one sixth of all people on the planet have a Facebook profile. That’s a lot of people who have access to all the information put on Facebook. What this has led to is more people putting pages on Facebook to advertise a company or an opinion of some sort. Sports broadcasters are not strangers to this.
The beginnings of Twitter may not be quite as interesting as Facebook, but they’re just as, if not more important. Oddly enough it was another student, Jack Dorsey of New York University, who created Twitter. It began as a way for members of the podcasting company ‘Odeo’ to communicate with each other internally. It was introduced publically in July 2006.
Twitter didn’t really gain much popularity until the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive Conference. The Twitter representatives at the conference placed two large televisions in conference hallways, which exclusively displayed Tweets. This caught the eye of most of those in attendance. Hundreds of them would keep in contact over Twitter, and the number of tweets sent per day went from 20,000 to 60,000. The site grew rapidly from there. By June 2010, about 65 million tweets were posted each day. This number continues to grow, and is now generating over 300 million daily tweets from over 500 million active users.
What makes Twitter so important for this topic is the way it is set up. It’s almost like sending an online text message, except everyone can see it. The 140-character limit makes for short bursts of information that can be sent as quickly as possible. This has made Twitter one of the best resources for both posting and gathering information on an immediate basis. Twitter is huge when it comes to big events. Whether it is a natural disaster, a political race, or even a large sporting event, Twitter is always the first place information is readily available. It’s become important for all broadcasters to understand and use Twitter to keep up to date with the modern world.
Chapter 2: The Adaptation of Sportscasters
Sports broadcasters have almost led the way when it comes to adapting to social media. The vast majority of information in sports is posted to Twitter before it is heard anywhere else. It has really changed the way information is spread in sports news. Social media as a whole has also allowed more interaction between fans, broadcasters and even the athletes who make the sport what it is. Facebook and Twitter give fans mediums on which they have the ability to communicate with these people, either just to converse, or even to get first hand information.
2.1: The New Way of Spreading Information
When Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009, the Twitter servers crashed. Users were updating their status to honour the fallen pop star at a rate of 100,000 tweets per hours. Everyone wanted to get what he or she had to say out there first, and it happens all the time. Sports is one of the main areas where it’s become popular. When the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League perished in a plane crash on September 7th 2011, reporters took to Facebook and Twitter to not only break, but also explain the story. Seeing as it was a major disaster in sports that took place on the other side of the world, social media made it easier for North Americans to understand exactly what was going on. Without social media, people wouldn’t have found out the details of the tragedy until that evening or even the next day. It was something people cared about. A lot of former NHL players passed a way in that crash; a lot of recognizable and well-known names. It’s a great example of how Twitter has developed to become a news source. Most of those people mostly likely heard about Jackson’s death through a tweet. It has become the best way for those in the know to spread information.
But why Twitter? Why social media? Well, because it’s the easiest way to reach the most people. Before social media, something as simple as having a discussion about sports needed to be at person or over the phone. It wasn’t as simple to talk about sports back then. CBC Associate Producer Steve Glynn says, “Now it’s so much easier to do that, you can do that at your fingertips, all these sites are on your phone, they’re on your laptop, it’s just easier.” Social media sites are available wherever you are. With the adaptation of cell phones to include the networks, information can be gathered on the go, wherever you are, immediately.
This is why social media is the new way of spreading information, simply because it’s easy. The way modern society is evolving calls for things to made easier and easier. Social media does that on so many levels. It’s the best way to communicate with other people. It’s the best way to learn about what’s going on in the world. It’s also the most efficient way for reporters to break news. People already in the industry need to learn this to keep their jobs. Sportsnet broadcasters Jeff Marek says, “I think you have a responsibility as a broadcaster to go where the information is and go where people are and where the conversation is and right now that’s Twitter.” A broadcaster who refuses to adapt will be left behind. It’s the way the spread of news is moving and it’s not going back to the way it was before any time soon. Print and Television are becoming secondary sources for most sports fans. They all know what’s happening almost immediately after it does.
Sports media outlets have to realize there has been a change in the way news is spread in order to survive. Toronto Marlies reporter Jeff Veillette says:
Tuning into Sportscentre for “breaking news” is a dying art. Checking a newspaper for anything further than opinion pieces and, on occasion, recaps of games you don’t care that much about is foreign to the new generation of fans. Traditional media has to find ways to reach the masses quicker, or change from being the scoopers to the analyzers.
Major outlets for the most part have done this. They make sure their reporters and broadcasters are on social media to be the first to break a major story. While an episode of Sportscentre will still include the breaking news stories from that day, the focus on the actual story itself is much less. Instead the focus is put on the details of the story, and the analysis of it by professionals or former professionals in a particular sport. What this does is it gives the viewer a more in depth look at the story, and helps them understand it better. This is one thing social media doesn’t do as well as traditional media, simply because it’s much more time consuming that a simple 140 character tweet. Regardless, what people are most interested in when it comes to sports news is what’s fresh and new, the breaking news. That’s why Twitter and Facebook have become the best way to spread news in sports and other areas of broadcasting.
Twitter will inform people when they want to be informed. Leafs TV reporter Clayton Hansler says, “We (sports broadcasters) can not force people to take in media the way we prefer to present it, but rather offer it to them in the way which they wish to receive it.” With the mobility of social networking sites, such as the ability to be accessed on cell phones, people prefer to be able to get their information wherever they are. Again, this is the new way information is spread because of this societal need to always be in the know. People want to know what’s going on as it happens, and social media sites have that ability.
2.2: The Immediacy Factor
Everything in the modern technological world is about getting things done as fast as possible. Every business in every industry does this in one way or another. Time is seen as money, and the more money saved the better. If there is a way a business owner can increase the efficiency of his or her workers while saving money, it will be done without a second thought. Outsourcing is a perfect example of this. Human rights are put aside in order to increase profits. People are increasingly more concerned about the money in their own pocket than any part of the lives of other people. Now this is something that has been going on for years, but the further technology advances the more pronounced this will become.
When it comes to sports and sports media, this may be going a bit far. But the premise stays the same: a penny saved is a penny earned. People expect things to be done immediately and as easily as possible. Social media does that. For example, if a major trade in the NHL happens at four in the morning, people can find can find out about it right away if they so choose. This is because sports broadcasters are always connected, because they have to be. The fans demand it.
In the daily life of a sports broadcaster, it’s become that social media is the first place they turn to when it comes to breaking news. Jeff Marek says:
It’s the first beast you feed. Like once upon a time when you get a bit of information you would call you know your editor at a newspaper, or your editor for a web blog that you’re doing. Or you called your program director and said hey I have this piece on information how do you want to present it? Now, that’s the first thing you feed, it totally changes your instincts because that’s where everything happens first and everything happens fast.
Things have changed to a large extent in broadcasting. In the past broadcasters worked for one medium, television for example. They would bring a piece of news to their producer, director, or whoever was in charge of what gets put on air. It would then be turned into a story of some sort, and broadcast it on the soonest newscast. That could mean hours from the time the story breaks to the time the general public knows about it. Social media has changed that. Now instead of reporting it to the station they work for, broadcasters go straight to Facebook or Twitter to let everyone that follows them know what’s going on. If it’s a big enough story, other reporters will work off of an original report and add what they know or have heard about it.
It all comes down to immediacy. The people want to know right away these days, and broadcasters have to give it to them. If a certain broadcast outlet doesn’t provide that, the people will simply ignore them, and follow the broadcasters who break news. It will hurt those broadcast outlets in the long run. People will start to forget about stations that ignore social media, and will have a much stronger connections to the stations that embrace it. These people will tune in to the stations they can connect with on Twitter or Facebook for highlights and analysis, while other stations will struggle to get a large audience. This is because the station that uses social media to their advantage satisfies the immediacy people demand. By having their broadcasters break the latest news immediately on Twitter and/or Facebook, stations connect with the fans much better. The people will want to turn on that station to see the people they get their breaking news from. Those who refuse to adapt can find themselves in a bad place, possibly even without a job.
2.3: The Inability to Change
Change isn’t easy for most people. Whether it’s moving, a new relationship, or even a new job, changes can be big moments in a person’s life. But what if it’s not something as big as those? What if it’s just a change in a job description? Well that can big as well. Those who have been doing a job for years and enjoy what they do don’t want to see it change. Why would they? They know what they are doing, they’ve been doing it for a long time, and that’s what they’re used to. A change in the way a job is done complicates things for most people. Social media has caused this in many industries, but broadcasting in particular. With the change in the way news is spread and the immediacy people expect broadcasters have been forced to change the way they work. Not everyone has had an easy time doing this.
Sports news is now broken over social media, particularly Twitter. This means sports broadcasters have needed to get used to the new way things are done. While some have adapted flawlessly and learned how to use these sites properly, others have either struggled or simply refused to figure it out. Sportsnet Social Media Liaison Tieja MacLaughlin says, “I couldn’t see a broadcaster in today’s world surviving on only traditional media. You need to stay relevant – Twitter is relevant.” Relevance is a big word when it comes to this topic. It’s extremely important to stay relevant in broadcasting as a whole. If you lose relevance, you begin to lose credibility. How are broadcasters staying relevant these days? Through social media. Jeff Veillette says, “The credit for breaking the story or putting out your opinion gets attached to you a lot more than it does traditionally, where people look to the parent company. It may be the same creative process, but the viewer response thought process changes.” Fans see broadcasters who are able to convey their message over Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets as the people who are in touch with the topic they cover professionally. When reporting over the radio, on television or in the newspaper, broadcasters and reporters don’t receive that kind of credit. It all goes to the company they work for; when in reality it may actually be the broadcaster doing all the work. What this does is it makes the broadcaster more relevant while adding to their credibility.
Social media has changed the way broadcasting works. It has also changed the way every broadcaster lives their daily life. Broadcasters have to adapt to this new way of things, whether they like it or not. Clayton Hansler says, “Much like many of the world’s industries; sports media is driven by demand. If the demand from the public is to see pictures on twitter, then those who supply the media must oblige.” Broadcasters need to follow the people that support them. Hansler adds, “Whether it’s a person’s desired platform or not; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have all attached themselves to those who consume sports media.” Every social media platform has found a way to satisfy its users who are interested in sports. So the broadcasters themselves need to do this as well whether they like it or not.
Social media is still evolving, and broadcasters are still adapting. This is true of media outlets as well. CBC is a good example. Being more of a traditional, almost old school broadcasting station, CBC is one of the companies that took a bit longer to adapt. CBC Producer Steve Glynn says, “They just started. That’s another one of those things where it’s like, how did it take you this long to start? But better late than never.” Why did it take so long to change? Well because people don’t like changing, and neither do broadcast outlets.
The vast majority of these broadcasters who have a hard time adapting to social media are the ones who have been around for a long time. Jeff Marek is one of those broadcasters, but he’s managed to changed, “I consider myself one of the old dogs, I try to stay up and as current as possible but I grew up in a media environment where I still remember working at the Fan and there were no computers”(Marek, P.I.). To become what you are in that kind of environment can make changing to the way things are now extremely difficult. Marek first joined Twitter when he was with CBC, and says, “I had to be talked into it, like almost like kicking and screaming like ‘oh what do I want to use Twitter for, what do I want to do this for what does anyone care what the hell I have to say about things.’” This is not a rare occurrence these days. If broadcasters do not adapt of their own, the media outlet they work for will force them to. Leafs TV Broadcaster Paul Hendrick is still relatively new to Twitter, and when asked when he joined he says, “September 16th, 2011 at the request of Leafs TV.” This is another example of outlets making their broadcasters join Twitter. It’s happening all the time now.
Though most broadcasters have gotten used to social media in one way or another, there are still those who haven’t and other broadcasters have taken notice. When asked about the broadcasters who refuse to adapt Jeff Marek says:
To me its akin to someone saying 50 years ago ‘oh I don’t read newspapers, I think they’re a fad I don’t think they’re of value.’ Like I don’t understand how you can do your job right now without using Twitter. Even if you don’t want to be active on it, even if you don’t want to tweet, if you don’t have anything to say, if you don’t want to contribute to the conversation, I think you have a responsibility as a broadcaster to go where the information is and go where people are and go where the conversation is and right now that’s Twitter.
The comparison to newspapers makes a lot of sense. As much as they are very different mediums, people use Twitter these days the same way newspapers would have been used 50 years ago. It’s where people get their news. The difference is the immediacy of Twitter and other social media. That’s one thing broadcasters have a hard time getting used to.
Deadlines now are as soon as you hear the news, while it used to be after an entire story is written later that night. That still happens now, but what’s more important? Getting the news out right away, and being the first to be able to take credit for a breaking story. When asked what he would tell a broadcaster who hasn’t adapted to social media Jeff Veillette says, “Theoretically, I’d hand them a graph that shows the total reach of a breaking news tweet by minute, up until the time of the day where their outlet got their story out.” What this would do is prove to the person how social media gets out to people quicker. Veillette would continue to suggest, “When it becomes apparent that a million people knew what you were saying within five minutes, and ten million knew before your newspaper went to print, hopefully that’ll make a difference in the way you approach things.” While very few broadcasters have Twitter followers even close to the numbers above, it’s definitely feasible to say a piece of breaking news coming from one source will reach millions of people within minutes. If it’s something people are interested in they will ‘retweet’ it, or spread the information through a tweet of their own. So hypothetically one piece of information could reach millions of people in minutes. This happens because social media is where people go for their information now. That’s where the conversation is.
Chapter 3: The Social Aspect in Sports
Social media was created to be a social tool. It was designed for people to be able to talk to each other quickly and easily over the Internet. It’s evolved to be so many other things, but the social aspect remains intact. In fact it co-exists with the other things social media has become. In sports broadcasting, social media has become a tool to discuss breaking news after it happens. It gives fans, broadcasters and even athletes a place to see what people think about what’s going on, and even chime in with their own opinion.
What this has led to is a more social culture in sports media. Before social media it was almost impossible for fans to communicate with broadcasters. To voice an opinion, you would have to send an email or a letter, and the chances of getting a response to those were slim to none. Now with social media a discussion can be created. Steve Glynn says realizes the ease of conversation and says, “It’s the social interest…you would talk about the hockey game with your buddy at work or your friend at school, now it’s so much easier to do that, you can do that at your fingertips, all these sites are on your phone, they’re on your laptop, it’s just easier.” Sports has become a much more social topic than in once was. Glynn goes on to say:
The reason sports are so interesting socially is very few people agree on things, and it’s great for debate, social media is great for people to connect, to hold friendships and stuff like that, but all people want to do sometimes when it comes to sports is disagree with each other, whether that’s because they’re blinded by their fan base, or they just have a different way of looking at things.
Social media is the first legitimate medium for fans to have a voice with which they can agree or disagree with what broadcasters are saying.
There is a downside to the social side of sports broadcasters on social media. Sometimes it can get negative. Glynn says, “There’s a writer I talked to last year… who just went, ‘you used to have to hand write a letter, put it in an envelope, lick it, put a stamp on it, and mail it. You used to have to go through a lot of effort to tell someone they suck, now it’s you suck sent, there you go.’” As much as Twitter and Facebook have a positive social side to them, it can make life as a broadcaster more difficult in a way. Glynn see’s this negativity all the and says, “You can’t let it get to you, it’s very difficult at times, when someone disagrees that’s fine, I have no problem with that, I don’t like when they get personal.” A shot at someone’s personality is tough to deal with in any walk of life. Sports broadcasting is no different. While social media has added the benefit of conversation between broadcasters, athletes and fans it has also made it much easier for anyone to attack another person quickly. This happens all the time to sports broadcasters who use social media regardless of whether or not they deserve it.
The fact of the matter is everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. A broadcaster may break a story, then post an opinion on it over social media. Any fan, player or fellow broadcaster can simply type in any reply they want to that. Some broadcasters may not see every reply they receive, but chances are some of the negativity will get through to them in one way or another. Jeff Veillette understands that this exists and says, “It (social media) makes everything much more personal. You can’t just put something out and ignore the response. Faces can be put to your readers, and your readers can respond in a much more direct fashion.” While there are ways to control this, such as blocking a certain person over Twitter, for the most part the broadcaster has no choice but to take it. These negatives exist and there’s now way to hide it.
While social media isn’t always positive generally it makes life easier for everyone involved. The fans are the ones who gain the most from it. Steve Glynn has grown up as a broadcaster in this environment and says, “Imagine being able to talk to Bob McKenzie a few years ago, you couldn’t do it. He has 300 thousand followers; it’s like having a conversation with Bob McKenzie in front of 300 thousand people… I think it’s a pretty amazing thing.” Bob McKenzie is one of the most popular broadcasters for TSN in Toronto. He is well known hockey insider who is very connected to the hockey community. He is one of the people fans trust to have news first. To have a conversation with him, regardless of the medium used for the discussion, is a huge deal for a lot of fans. The fact that thousands of people can see what they’ve said when having a conversation with him is also important to fans. Bob is only one example out of dozens who do it in North American sports because of social media.
Conversing over social media can be a positive for broadcasters as well. A media person who uses social media properly can make it a hub for gaining popularity. A broadcaster who takes the time to connect with the fans will become better received among the people who follow him or her. Word will spread and more people will begin to follow that the broadcaster says and their popularity has the potential to skyrocket. It’s the way media works now. While it has always been about gaining fan popularity social media has made it easier to do on a personal level. It’s as if broadcasters are going to where the fans are to better connect with them.
Broadcasters, fans and players have all taken to social media. There is a connectedness in the sports world that has never existed before. All three of these types of people are communicating with each other on an immediate basis. For sports fans even ten years ago this was impossible. Social media has created an atmosphere of sociability among fans players and broadcaster that would have been though of as impossible a decade ago. The broadcaster who have learned to use this the best are the ones who have become the most well known and successful.
Chapter 4: Branding and Promoting with Social Media
Sports broadcasters who have adapted to social media use it to their advantage. Promoting shows and events is easier now with social media than it ever has been. TSN Radio host James Cybulski has learned to use it and says, “I’ll tweet out links to interviews, and use (social media) to promo big guests.” Many sports broadcasters who have their own show do this. TSN sports anchor Jay Onrait is another example. He and anchor Dan O’Toole recently started a podcast and he says, “TSN.ca has been great about promoting the podcast but Twitter has also been very helpful in promoting the podcast.” While Jay has become popular through his witty style on Sportscentre, the podcast is just another way people can get to know him, and social media is a big help with letting fans know what’s going on. Jeff Marek has also been doing podcasts. Along with Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski, Marek has been a host of the ‘M vs. W’ show for over a year. He’s an example of a broadcaster he has taken to social media and has used it well to promote his podcast.
A lot of broadcasters in sports today have made a name for themselves using social media. Sportsnet Friday Night Hockey Social Media Liaison Tieja MacLaughlin is a great example of this. Her work using social media and other web resources has done a lot to push her career forward. Tieja says, “These days employers need not look any further than a Google search to find out who you are and what you’re all about. Virtually everyone in media has an online presence: a brand.” Jobs can come from simply having a presence online. However this presence needs to be a positive one. Tieja says, “I’ve seen public/media relations professionals scan the social media accounts of individuals who have applied for media accreditation. If you have a bad image, whether in person or online, it makes people apprehensive.” It’s as if your social media presence can make or break your career. Employers look for people who understand and properly use social media. It’s changed the way people get chosen for certain positions. Before social media it was as simply as a resume, a demo (depending on the position) and an interview if the process called for one. Now employers can almost know whether or not they’ll hire a person simply by checking out their social media pages.
It’s become paramount for anyone applying for a job in any industry to make sure they have a positive online presence. If a potential employer goes online to find an applicant posts inappropriate messages or pictures on Facebook, Twitter or any other medium, the chances of that person being hired diminish significantly. If you create a negative brand for yourself, you won’t be successful. Posting photos of partying, drinking or other unprofessional things doesn’t help a person anywhere in life. All it does is make potential employers think the person is unprofessional, unreliable and essentially not someone they want to hire. People need to realize that a positive online presence is important when it comes to getting a job because that’s where the people who do the hiring go.
Self-branding through social media and other online tools can have huge advantages if it’s used properly. Creating an online presence gives you a medium on which you are respected enough by your peers to take credit for news you break. Jeff Veillette says, “Anyone who has a presence anywhere has an immediate in when it comes to putting out their news. Whether that leads to more blog hits, a job opportunity, or just free internet points…there’s at the very least a theoretical reward to being somebody’s go to (person for news).” Credibility can be built simply by having a good online presence. This credibility is what makes people respect the opinion of a broadcaster more so than others. A broadcaster who establishes an online presence has a better chance of gaining that credibility than one who doesn’t.
It’s not uncommon for people to get their start in sports broadcasting over social media and other resources on the Internet. Steve Glynn is one example of a person who was noticed because of things he was doing online. He began making videos blogs about the Toronto Maple Leafs after every one of their games. He did these using the nickname ‘Steve Dangle’ to better appeal to a hockey audience. He hadn’t thought of sports broadcasting as a legitimate career option for him before he started making the videos, but eventually started to think it was something he could do. He interned at The Fan 590 in Toronto (Now Sportsnet 590 The Fan) and moved up the ranks there. He ended up with many other opportunities in sports broadcasting because of the popularity of his videos. Glynn has done work with Nike, Leafs TV, Real Sports, and is now an associate producer at CBC. With these outlets he’s done work on the 2010 Winter Olympics, the World Junior Hockey Championships, and during the current NHL lockout he is putting together highlights in English of games being played overseas. In addition to all this he’s created a brand for himself using the name Steve Dangle. A lot has come of Steve’s work online and he credit’s social media for helping him become successful, “Social media is the ultimate place to talk to people, and that’s what I like to do…I couldn’t see myself doing anything close to what I’m doing without it.” Glynn is one of many sports broadcasters today who has found success because of his online presence because that’s where people look for talent in the modern technological world.
This happens outside of broadcasting as well. One of the best examples of this is Canadian pop music star Justin Bieber. He was an average teenager from Stratford Ontario who enjoyed writing and playing music. He would post his original work in video form on YouTube and Facebook for people he knew to see. What this did for him was something very few people could have seen coming. An extremely popular music performer and producer who goes by the name Usher noticed Bieber’s work. He then signed the young Canadian musician, and now Bieber is one of the most well known acts in the world. What does this have to do with sports broadcasting? More than it seems on the surface. Bieber’s story is very similar to that of Steve Glynn. Both started by using the resources available to them on the Internet and managed to work there way up to bigger things. While Bieber may have done this on a much larger scale, both ended up better off because of their work with social media and other online resources.
Creating an online brand can go much further for a person than most think. Job opportunities and much more can come out of simply taking the time to create a web profile using social media and other sites. It’s all about getting your name out there. It may take a while, but when people know who you are online they will begin to take you seriously in whatever medium you are a part of. What’s becoming more important is to cover as much of social media as possible, because who knows what’s going to break out next.
Chapter 5: The Future of Sports Media
Social media has changed the way sports media operates. Broadcasters do there job much differently now. Twitter and Facebook have become the most popular way to break news stories simply because they’re faster and reach a larger audience than traditional media. There are other social media sites out there that are very popular when it comes to newsgathering, but right now those two are the biggest and most popular ones. While this is true now, there will always be the questions about whether or not this will change, and if so when. Of course this can and most likely will change. As for the timing of it, that can’t be said for sure.
Twitter and Facebook themselves were at one time a new advancement in technology. They changed the world just like radios and televisions did when they were brand new. When the radio was released to the public it took away from the popularity of the newspaper, as television did to radio. Now social media is taking popularity away from those mediums. There has always been a new thing that draws the general public’s attention away from the older mediums, and as technology advances this phenomenon will continue. There will be something that steals the thunder away from Twitter and Facebook, it’s just a matter of when and what. Sports broadcasters such as Jeff Marek understand this and he says, “What I see myself doing in the next five to ten years depends on where the technology is. My only goal is that I can adapt with whatever technology is prevalent…I like to think that whatever technology brings I can adapt with it.” Regardless of how long it takes, something will replace Twitter and Facebook and the most popular source for newsgathering. It could end up being another social media platform, or it could be something totally different. Nothing is for sure, but what people can be certain of is that there will be something new eventually.
When a new medium comes, it means broadcasters have to find a way to adapt again. They’ve had to do that whenever a new medium is released and becomes popular among the general public. It’s still pretty early in that process for social media. Broadcasters are still learning how to use it somewhat properly, never mind its full potential. Tieja MacLaughlin is one of the broadcasters who has fully adapted to it and she says, “A lot is changing in the sports industry and social media is at the heart of it all. I think those coming into the industry in the next two years have an advantage in that they get to learn from the trial and error that those of us now have already gone through. All I can suggest is to stay open to the possibility of change and embrace it.” Tieja mentions an advantage for new broadcasters because by the time they’re entrenched in the industry the older broadcasters will have gone through the problems with social media, and the younger broadcasters will learn from this.
The future of sports media, and all media for that matter is in doubt. It always will be. There will always be something new that comes out and changes the way broadcasters do their job. Social media is that medium right now. How long it will last is a question that can’t be answered, only speculated. What replaces social media as the medium of choice for fans and broadcasters is an even bigger mystery. Something will though. It has happened in the past and it will happen again, it’s only a matter of time.
Sports broadcasting is a constantly changing industry. The creation of Facebook and Twitter has made the job of the average broadcaster much different. Social media has created a new way to spread news. Before social media news was spread over television, radio and newspaper. While those mediums are still relevant today, social media has taken over when it comes to spreading news. It’s where the people are. There are hundreds of millions of people on social media networks. What someone says can potentially be seen by all of these people. Being able to get a point across to so many people all at once is one thing that makes social media the best way for broadcasters to spread what they hear.
Social media also has the immediacy factor that television, radio and newspapers just don’t. When a big sports story breaks, a broadcaster can tweet about it or post on Facebook about it right away. The fans know as soon as something happens. With traditional media they would have to wait until the next sports cast on the radio, or the next edition of Sportscentre on television. Broadcasters also have to wait to break the story until they get that chance. With social media they can do it immediately.
Despite the advantages of social media as a broadcasting tool, there are still many in the media who refuse to adapt. Some find it too complicated, while others simply aren’t willing to take the time to try. When it comes down to it, Twitter and Facebook are relevant right now and that’s where the fans, players and media go. People gather news over social media more than anywhere else because that’s where they get it quickly and easily. Broadcasters who haven’t adapted to it need to realize that social media is not going anywhere.
Social media creates a social aspect between players, broadcasters and fans. There is the ability for people from all walks of life to communicate now more than ever. Social media creates this because everyone is on one medium. Fans, broadcasters and athletes all flock to sites like Twitter to share opinion, break news and have social discussions. If a well-known broadcaster breaks a big story on Twitter, the door is open for anyone to reply to them with a comment and often have a discussion. This ease of communication never existed before social media.
People can go a long way simply by having a good online presence. Many broadcasters have found work through social media or other Internet outlets. Proper online branding can lead to an employer choosing a certain person over other because they know what’s important in the technological world today. People need to know how to use social media properly. A person who wants to get into sports broadcasting can make a splash just by posting the right things online. It’s always possible to get noticed if the effort is put forth.
The future of sports broadcasting, and media in general, is up in the air. Realistically it always is. When a new medium to present and gather news is released to the public, broadcasters need to adapt to it. This is what social media has done to traditional media broadcasters. It’s akin to what the radio did to newspapers when it was released. There will always be something new eventually. It isn’t certain as to what will replace social media, or when, but at some point in the future something will become the new most popular way to gather news.
Social media as a whole has greatly effected the world of sports broadcasting. Fans find most things out through Twitter, Facebook or other sites before they see it on television, hear it on radio or read it in the newspaper. The simplicity and speed of social media has made it the most popular medium for news gathering. Those who haven’t gotten used to it really should, because it’s here to stay.
Posted on September 26, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Cybulski, Dangle, Facebook, Hansler, Hendricks, Jeffler, MacLaughlin, Marek, Onrait, Social Media, Sports Broadcasting, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.