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How athletes benefit from media training

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Sports people of all persuasions are waking up to the benefits of media training, so much so that many codes now include marketing as an important part of their pre-season orienteering programmes.

For a young, up and coming sports personality, it is important that they be aware of positive personal branding because of its impact on the media interview process.

This applies not only during their sports career but also in their later career aspirations.

Developing sports careers are watched very closely by Australian sports fans. For that reason, team members have to manage their personal brand in a way that resonates positively on them both as an individual and as a team member, not only at media interviews but also on and off the sports field.

There are no ‘down times’ where media exposure is concerned and that includes social media.

Team members and athletes are often dismayed by how they are portrayed in the media. An unfortunate facial expression may create a perception in the public mind that this person is ‘up himself’ or that person couldn’t care less about the fans, to the detriment of their future publicity and opportunities.

Marketing experts explain that everyone has a ‘default’ look, the typical facial expression that we all wear when we are not engaging with another person or trying to project an ‘image’. One person’s default look may be quite serene, while another’s may be grumpy and unapproachable.

All it takes is for a photographer to catch an unfortunate expression and that person will be splashed over the visual media. Remember, the media at times is looking exactly for that shot to use. Someone whose look is friendly and positive is nearly always portrayed in a more sympathetic way by the media.

To communicate effectively with the media, it is a worthwhile exercise for athletes to practice interviewing skills and techniques with communications experts. This is done in conjunction with work on facial expressions, body language and tone of voice under a personal brand strategy.

There are always questions that turn up repeatedly in interviews, and athletes will benefit from mock interviews where they can practice effective responses so they look and feel natural when responding.

Successful attention to such techniques makes athletes appear more agreeable and relaxed, not only to their interviewer but also to the camera and the home viewer or listener.

This kind of practice and attention to detail is ongoing. There are always changes happening in the sports world: players reach more senior levels, other players turn to management, someone is ‘let go’, politics raises its ugly head, public perceptions change and time brings a host of other challenges.

Additionally, long and successful careers may bring about new layers of public perception which require a different’ persona’ for the camera.

Like the on-field training that is required to be selected for the team, similar is required for the professional off-field image expected of today’s athletes.

The results of media training are not instant. At times it may feel to some individuals that they have already been set into a mould that is not easily going to break. But with ongoing work and attention, the rewards will come.

The athletes will eventually have the confidence to handle the toughest of interviews and come out smiling. That’s an important part of what the team brand is all about and in the process delivers in spades for the individual’s personal brand.

Article by: Jon-Michail – Group CEO – FIA Sports Management

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