CAP_320_mediarelationsarticle

CAP_320_mediarelationsarticle - Public Relation-t Review....

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Unformatted text preview: Public Relation-t Review. 3m -l .I'-l.'.t 1 4‘3? ISHN llSrifi-Hl ll i tIl1L'll!,Ll|I t" l'llllt‘l lit [flan-let Retell-(c Illl All I'll-Illl‘: 0: rel‘tmlllrtttm Ill ant tornt fChCn'liL‘l Public Relations Stmtegies for Creating Mass Media Content: A Case Study of the National Basketball fail-J?! A. Fortunate ABSTRACT: In the relationxhip among pulilie l'Cli'ltlUl‘lS-t 11135.5 mullet and the audience. it it'- ntten the mass media who are deemed the power broken in their ability to potentially inllttenee an audience. The agenda—setting theoretical framework operates From the perspeetive ot' the mass media having. the power to transfer the salience ol'an lH‘stlL‘ to the public. Perhqu however, to much power is granted [U the mass media without the consid— eration ot'tlie proceseees by which mass media content is selected and framed. This; raises the question: who “Its the public i1gendri? Public relations practitioners have the ultilltt to assist the produc- tion til-T115155 media content through various proactive public telations atrategiet. that are designed to promote and present the organization they represent in the most positive manner. A ease study Ol‘ the National llaskethall Association (NBA: reveals sev- eral public relations and promotional strategies, which indicate Lint much ol'the creation ot’NliA related mass media content is dit'eeted by the NBA itsell'. lfihn A7 Furllllmtu is an meats-Lain prttl'ew'tr ot' Communi- cation at Saint Peter‘s College, Ierset City. NJ. Winter 2:100 481 i’irhh'r firiammr Rt’l'irlll in the field oi'pubiic relations, interacting with the mass media as the vehicle to reach an audience is critical because the media are often the main or only method for certain organizations to reach an audience. In this triangular relationship among public relations, mass media, and the audience, the mass media have power in two critical dimensions: [1) the power to potentially influence the public as studied in mass media effects research and {2 l the power to perform a gatekeeping function through processes of selecting and Framing issues that will be exposed to an audience. It is the gatekeeping Function and the pro— duction of mass media content through the selection and Framing power that is the area of interest For this case study. In studying media efl'ects. agenda-setting research claims that the mass media have the power to influence which issues people will think about and how they might think about those issues. perhaps, too much power is granted to the mass media in terms of selecting and framing messages that are designed to influ- ence the public without an inclusion or" the role and the power of the people or organizations who provide the mass media with content. Recognition of other sources having a role influencing mass media content‘ without accepting the mass media as the only plausible answer, raises the questionI who sets the public agenda? Public relations practitioners must operate From an assumption that they have the power to in iluence mass media content, acting as an advocate on behalfof the organization they represent through the public relations strategies they imple- ment. A second assumption that public relations practitioners must make is that these strategies Favorany influence the opinion and behavior of the audience, particularly the target audience the organization is seeking. Operating ti‘om the thesis that public relations practitioners have the power to influence media con- tent, and subsequendy public opinion and behavior. through public relations strategies. raises questions as to what are the specific public relations Strategies. A case study oi'the National Basketball Association‘s {NBA} public relations strategies was used to reveal that the mass media are not the sole power broker in selecting and framing messages. The NBA itself has implemented several public relations strategies designed to shape mass media content and subsequently public opinion and behavior. The public relations strategies of the NBA are extensive in attempting to continuously promote the league. its teams, and players and to Frame the coverage the league receives in the most favorable Fashion. The NBA was chosen because oi'the nature of the organization. with several NBA games being played simultaneously throughout the nation, the mass media become necessary For a Fan to Follow the league. The need For the mass media to reach the audience indicates the importance oi'the relationship between the NBA and the mass media. It wast therefore, hypothesized that several public relations strategies ofthe NBA use the mass media, particularly network television. This case study hoped to achieve two goals: i l l to demonscratc that the NBA'S public relations and promo- tional strategies play a prominent role in selecting and framing mass media content that could influence public opinion and behavior and (2) to identify and describe what are the specific public relations and promotional strategies used by the NBA to shape mass media content. 432 Vol. 26. No. 4 NBA Push: Reign-um LITERATURE REVIEW Because of their critical positioning as the vehicle between an organization and the audience, the mass media play a pivotal role in the field of public relations. An inclusion of mass media theory contributes to the understand ing ofthis case smeltI because some degree oi‘power in the mass media exists in net; dimensions: {1 } potentially influencing the public and ill the ability to select and frame messages. One mass media theory that can be applied to public relations is the agenda—setting research inspired bi.- Mctlfombs and Shaw. Their original agenda-setting hypothesis tested whether media coverage iniiuences the public‘s perception regarding the importance oi'issues.1 'i‘his transfer oi'issue salience from the media agenda to the public agenda was based on exposure alone and is referred to as let'el one oi'agenda-setting research. Extending from the original idea of media esposure‘s singular influence on the public regarding which issues to think abottu agenda-setting researchers are now claiming that the media may also be successful in indicating to people how to think about an issue and is referred to as level two of agenda-setting research.2 McCombs and Shaw have reconsidered their original agenda-setting hypothesis and extended the agenda-setting function, describing it as a process that can affect both what to think and how to think about an issue.3t Agenda—setting at level two is the ability ot‘the mass media to Ii‘ame a message. Entntan explained to Frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more saiient in .1 communicating test. in such a way .1s to promote a particular problem definition, causal ioteq‘lretatiom I'noral evaluation. and/or treatment recommemiation tor the item described.4 He also claimed that names “call attention to some aspects ot'reality while obscur— ing other elements which might lead audiences to have ditierent reactions."5 The blind assignment oi'the selecting and Framing power to the mass media ignores the critical relationship between the mass media and the organizations that provide content, the organizations with an agenda to transfer to an audience. Inclusion oi" the content prtwiders in selecting and training messages raises the question, who sets the public agenda? The question of other entities influencing the agenda—setting selection and framing process has been raised in previous re- search. Cart'agee, Rosenl'nlan1 and Michaud claimed “agenda-setting research has consistentiy accepted the media agenda as a given without considering the process by which the agenda is const meted ."“ Rogers, hearing. and Bregman claimed “we need to better understand how the media agenda is set. and by whom.“ The thesis of this research was that one essential group in the selection and framing of mass media content are the public relations practitioners representing the organizations that are Using the mass media as the vehicle to reach the audi- ence. An assumption that the role of public relations practitioners through the strategies they implement can influence the agenda-setting selection and training processes and mass media content was made. The public relations t'ttnctit'in for a Winter 2th 433 I’nfit’lr Eden's-m Restru- professional sports league in selecting and Framing. mass media content is oi’interest because the most common involvement people have with sports is through the mass media, particularly viewing sports on television.“"’ [11 operating from the thesis that the NBA itsell'plavs a prominent role through public relations strategies in selecting and framing mass media content that could influence public opinion and behavior, the main research question was, what are the specific public and media relations strategies used by the NBA? METHOD The method for this case study ofidentiliring and describ- ing the public relations strategies of the NBA was key informant interviews. Per- sonal interviews were conducted with die Following NBA executives: Chris Brienza, NBA Director [ll-MCL‘lla Relations; Ed Desser1 NBA President oF Tele'Ji- sion; Brian McIntyre; NBA Senior Vice President of Communications; Adam Silver, President of NBA Entertainment; David Stern, NBA Commissioner; and Gregg Winik, NBA Vice President of Broadcast. Personal interviews were also conducted with the tiillowing personnel from keyr constituency groups associated with the NBA: Dave Checketts; President and Chiet‘Executive OH-icer (CEO) of Madison Square Garden; Dave Coskev, Philadelphia 76ers Vice President of Marketing/Comn‘lunication and former Public Relations Director; Chuck Duly; NBA Hall-of-Fame Head Coach; Iohn Merl-s; New Iersey Nets Public Relations Director; Tommy Roy, NBA on NBC Executive Producer; KeLly Tripuclta, former NBA All-Starplaver; and Stephen Ulrich, NBC Director oi-"Talent and Promotion. FINDINGS In siphoning power from the mass media, particularly tele— vision1 as the sole agenda-setting component. the NBA is very proactive in setting the agenda ofits own league. As NBA president ot‘television, Ed Desser is respon- sible for dealing with how the NBP. is positioned on television and the strategic planning and business development oi'the NBA‘s television product. Desser con- tended that the NBA is a major factor in the agendauserting process, and the league is very much an originator of many agenda~setting initiatives. He explained that media attention doesn‘t iust happen in .i vacuum and our job is to be an advocate for the NBA and to push the NBA agenda and to try and get the media‘s attention so that the}; will talk about. pay attention to, and highlight the NBA. It's not just the media deciding on their own; oh Well; let’s Focus on the NBA today. {Ed Desser1 personal communication, 1998) 4.34 Vol. 26, No. 4 NBA l’uin'ir i-lel‘rtrmm' NBA Media Relations One of the major groups within the NBA structure For agenda-setting is the media relations department. Chris Brienza, NBA Director of Sports Media Relations. explains the primary role of the media relations depart- ment is getting information out to try to serve media constituents and subse- quenthf the Fans all over the world. The overall objecrives of the NBA media relations department are to (1) make the NBA the easiest sport in the world to cover and (2.) to help grow the sport of NBA basketball. There are multiple information services that the NBA provides in trying to attain both of these objectives. Brienza stated from a service standpoint We've become .1 24-hour operation. A couple ot‘tears ago we got into tits on demand. Anyone covering. the NBA from amok-here in the world would be able to access game notes. ho); scores. Statisncs, ail ol'that, 24 hour a. day inst by having. a far. machine. We really took it a step Further with NBAIIOM. which is now like one-stop shoppng il'ron are a media member. [I has game notes. box scores. stats. shot charts now. It is an archive now as well. which is St'miething we didn‘t have hetiire. You can go get a hos score li'om two years ago. (Chris Brienza. personal communication. 1998} Information services also entail proactively providing the media with stories, or at least being sure to provide the media with the NBA perspective ol'a story. Brienza explained. For example, the NBA uses video news releases where the NBA, “will but the satellite time, produce video. and send it up on the satellite for any television station in the country to pull down to help them tell their story better“ (Chris Brienza, personal communication, 1998). One instance, Ul'i'ifl'ttd hv Brienza, of when the NBA used a video news release was during the NBA lockout when Russell Granik‘ NBA Deputy Commissioner. explained the polin oi'how the NBA would reimburse fans who had tickets for canceled games. The NBA uses a similar strategy in catering to radio news organizations. Brienaa explained we have a radio hodine number where. it'there is a breaking. story. we’ll take audio. piaec it in a specific mailbox so radio stations know il'thcy can‘t get a live intenriew because it‘s a huge story. you call this number. go to mailbox [it] and there will always he a NBA official with two or three sound—likes ol'a story. {Chris Brienaa. personal comtminication. 1993‘; The importance of these strategies that provide the NBA perspective are that the NBA itsell‘is now being a proactive advocate in providing a story or assisting the Framing ofa story rather than operating at the mercy of the various mass media organizations‘ interpretation oi'events. Bt'ienza explained the flaming of stories role oi‘the NBA Media Relations Department as an active [role]1 helping present our plavers and our teams and our coaches in the most positive light possible and heing able to explain issues1 lacing able to Winter 20”“ 4-85 I’uhhc Reimr'um Review set up interview requests. being able to help people who cover the game— help them understand things where they might have a viewpoint for certain reasons. because they don’t understand everything that is going on behind that story. [Chris Brienza, personal communication. 1998} Because of these extensive duties. Brienza must be continuously accessible to the media and is on 24-hour call with the home phone numbers oi'the media relations department personnel included in the NBA Media Dt'rrrratj' that is provided for any media member who covers the NBA. Critical in the over-all league public relations strategy is the coordination and relationship between the NBA Media Relations Department and the individ- ual team public relations directors. Chris Brienza described the relationship be.— tween the league media relations department and the individual team public rela- tions directors where the individual teams act as 29 branch offices oi'the NBA. He pointed out that the teams' public relations directors are the people who deal with the players on a day ‘to—dav basis and a let of times communication is easier and more effective ii'vou work with the public relations director because they have a daily rela- tionship with that player. (Chris Brienza. personal communication. 1998} Pubch Relations Directors The people responsible for coordinating the daily interac— tion among the players. the coaches, and the media are the individual team public relations directors. In addition to his current role as Vice President of‘Marketing and Communications with the Philadelphia 76ers. Dave Coskey is the Former Public Relations Director For the Siscrs. Coskev defined the goals of the commu— nications department as facilitating the 76ers having a consistent presence throughout the media and thus keeping the community involved. He explained that the first responsibility ofthe public relations fiinction For the team is the game operation and to service the media who attend games, particularly the television broadcasters {Dave Coskcv, personal} communication, 1999}. lohn Mertz is the Director of Public Relations tor the New lerse}r Nets and has been with the team for H years. In the role ol'providing information to the game announcers so the}? can be more prepared for the broadcast. Mertz described the service the New Jersey Nets Public Relations Department provides. stating we put together .1 packet 1with information including the game notes for that night. recent press clippings, and whatever information they need available. and We send that to the hotel so that the television and radio guys for the visiting team can read up liar the game that night. (lohn Mcrtz. personal communica- tion, 1993} Mertr. explained that the objective is to provide the announcers with enough information so they could competently report on the game. 486 Vol. Zfi. Ni}. 4 NFL-l. l’ttltlir ernrium From an exposure standpoint, MCI’I‘Z and his office are the primary day-to— day contact with the media. particularly the print media and the sis daily newspa- pers that report on the has on a regular basis whether the Nets are traveling or at home. He explained that these contacts include keeping them {media members) supplied with whatever statistical or biograph- ical background information they may need to get their ioh done, dealing. with the sports editors For special requests for maybe special seetit ms or l'eatures they maybe working on . working. with the photo departments, credentialing. or any special l'eatures they are working. on. llohn Mertz. personal communication. l993l It is the individual team public relations ollices that will lield requests From tlte various media outlets, whether the request is from Sports Ilium-tired, a local newspaper or television outlet. or a NBA broadcast partner such as NBC. Being the first contact. the public relations department then notifies the player or coach and (Jl'l'lil'fi their advice regarding the media request. Mertz explained that the public relations office will evaluate media requests and. make a teeomn‘tendation to |the player. Mertz indicated the players do trust the public relations department. and if players are contacted directly by a media member the players will advise that person to take the request to the public relations office. Mertz Commented they know our role—what we are there for and they use us as shelter or protection as they want to turn down or schedule. Some of them [media members] will go to guys For something separate, but usually the players are good at telling. us they are doing it or after the media outlet has gone to the player and asked. they will come back to us and say We spoke to lay-ton former Nets center layson Williams] and he said he will do this for us. The re is nobody out there who l’eels the need to circumvent our [‘Rdepan'tnent because we turn them down consistently. {Iohn Mertz. personal connnunieation‘ 1993} have Coskey, who was the 76ers Public Relations Director when Philadel- phia had superstars lulius lining, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley, provided his philosophy by stating “it is not your iob to limit. but to exploit and create as much access as you can“ {Dave (Ioskey, personal communication, 1999]. (Joskey added that “the tone you take on requests sets the perception. You cannot fulfil] every request, but the goal is to fill as many as possible and to get the others (media organizations} to understand.“ One suggestion that (Zosltey tillered is to rotate the media organisations whose requests are granted. N BA Access to Players and Coaches The key component ol'any NBA media relations strategy involves the core ol‘its product. the players and coaches. The personnel at the NBA league office are very aware oftbe importance ot'their role as agenda-setters tor the league and very proactive in this endeavor in terms ofproviding aecess to the NBA players and coaches. The NBA rules for access to players and coaches are provided Winter Ellflll +37 Public Remnant Rrvr'rw as a league-wide standard timing format. On game day locker rooms are open 90 min before a genie and closed 45 min before the start ol'a game. With most NBA games starting at a local time ot'7:30 p.m., locker rooms are open From 6:00 p,n‘l_ to 6:45 pm. The locker rooms reopen 10 min after the conclusion ofthe game. On off-days, teams also have to make the players and coaches available For 30 min. (Brian McIntyre, Chris Brienaa, and john Mcrtz, personal communications.) Dave Checketts, President and CEO oi‘Madison Square Garden, explained the importance and necessity of providing media access to players and coaches, stating you end up working, very, very hard to get coverage. It is a crowded market— place, not just in New York, but nationally. You strive to mach your sport relevant, you want it to be number one in the hearts and minds ol'peoplc from November to June and you do everything in your power to do that. (Dave Checketts, personal communication, 1993} Cheri-tens continued with the philosophy for helping the Madison Square Garden professional sports teams properties [New York Knicks, NBA; NY Liberty, WNBA; and New York Rangers, NHL) gain media coverage by stating that means giving, them 1' media members} access, that means getting them into the locker room 45 rnin helorc the game for inten’ieWs, and certainly opening the locker room 15 min after the game for intewiews—you supply lbotage, you give the broadcasters talent tickets, you treat their Families good. and you build a relationship. Then when anything happens with the li‘anchise or with the team, you break your back to be available to them to comment on the latest signing, or the latest trade, or die latest controversy, or the latest disciplinary action, or why you fired the coach, or why you hired the coach, it goes on and on and on. It is one ol'thc biggest things we do and we eInploy a whole stafl'ol: people to service these people [media members]. (Dave Checkctts, personal communication. 1998} The diiiiculty For the NBA is in trying, to provide a balance to the interests of its players and coaches, the media members, and the audience who ultimately receives this information. Brian McIntyre-,NBA-Senior Vice President oi'Commu— nications, described the relationship, staring- what a lot ol'playcrs and coaches Forget, or conveniently t'orget, is that the media represent the Fans in an ideal perfect world, they are the eyes and the cars so ii‘you are not talking, to the media, you are not going. to get the word out to your Fans. (Brian McIntyre, personal communication, 1998) McIntyre discussed the conflict that the NBA Communications Department has in the media and player relationship, commenting we have to walk right down the middle, we work For the NBA and For our teams, therefiirc our players, at the same time we are trying to get the Word out 4-33 Vol. 3ft, No. 4 NBA l-‘ttlrfir Rrhmnm to the media so they can get it out to the Fans. That is why it is very important for us to try to better the relationships between the players and the media so the lam: can get the ultimate word. tBrian McIntyre. personal comntttltitmtion1 1993] Melittch explained that the league recognizes the difficulty, but also the importance, of the interactions between the media and the NBA players, particu- larly after games. He stated we hate worked with our leams1 our coaches, our broadcasters, and print reporters to try to come up with things that make sense litrereryhody. It | being. an athlete] is the only ioh in the World where the employees atier their shift have to come out and talk to people while they are changing their clothes. It is rather strange on the sttrlitee. Is it the best Way? I am not so sure. You could protect an athlete or a coach by having a little longer period to cool ofl: also allow them a little dignity to be able to dress before reporters come in scrambling. all over the place. but on the other hand we are trying. to get emotion. You want the real emotion. {Brian McIntyre. personal C(JI'I‘ImUI‘ilCfltlfllL £993: Kelly Tripueka, Former IO—ycar NBA veteran and two time All-Star, cle- scribed the difficulty of playing a game for 48 min at an extremely high level of intensity that Few occupations experience, then having to talk to the media and answer reporters‘ questions. He stated I know when I played. it is hard to get over a certain game quickly enough. You carry that with you and they are in there in min al'terthe game and you might have just thrown the ball away or missed a shot and you are just in knots and that is when they “flint to come in. You are already edgy, and then they got to stick the microphone or camera in ll'ront ot". you and that is when bad things [could occur]. {Kelly Tripucka, personal communication, 1993) Tripucka emphasized media relations are a challenge for many players, stating it really takes some doing. not only learn to speak well in front ol‘a camera and know what to say‘ but how to control your emotions in the heat ol" battle‘ because they are in there right after the game and that‘s when it‘s probably the most diflicult to get a perspective to make it seem like you are not angry or blow up and sometimes that could be very difficult. particularly in a loss. (Kelly Tripttclta‘ personal communication, I998} 'l'tipuclta did, however, understand the value and the necessity ot'the media and the simple recognition ofthem having a job to do. Tripucka claimed that he always tried to be very accessible to the media, providing the reporter was Fair. Regarding the media Tripucka stated they are covering what people don‘t get a chance to see. They are trying to get the inside scoop of what goes on during the day-to-day operation. not just during games, but what we are thinking before the game or after the game or Whiter 20m.) 489 l’tthl't'i‘ Erie than: R rt'mi' during. practice. what leads up to the game. So in that regard. I never had a problem ifsomebody wanted to talk to me. {Kelly "I'ripueka~ personal commu— nication, 1998} Certain players may only be interviewed after certain games in which they were an integral part of the outcome. but the head coach is always a Factor, and therethre. it is required by the NBA that he must always meet the media. Chuck Daly, HallvotiFame Head Coach and winner ot'two NBA (Ihampitmships with the Detroit Pistons, described his philosophy for dealing with the media1 particularly after a game. Daly stated it begins with the approach From day one as a head coach that he is not going to he adversarial to the media. The second technique for a postgame press conference that Daly used was to have statistics from the game available. Daly explained he speaks with either an assistant coach or a team public relations representative and obtains some oi'the game‘s key statistics. Daly stated that these statistics provide a foundation and an “explanation ot'why a team lost might be bound in statistics“ (Chuck Daly, personal communication, 1999). The final suggestion that Daly offered regarding the postgame press conference was to have something to drink in case a question is asked and a brief time is needed to compose the proper response. The importance of this philosophy. according to Duly, is that the head coach is always in a lose~lose situation and cannot go head—twhcad with the media because the media always have the last Word. NBA Players: Media Education [:1 understanding the importance of die relationship be- tween the players and the media in creating the perception ofthc league. the NBA is proactive in educating players on media relations. One of the public relations strategies the NBA used to educate its players is (altering a seminar during, the NBA Rookie Transition Program that is devoted solely to media relations. Attending the NBA Rookie Transition Program is mandatory for any player entering, the NBA. During the media seminar. several veteran players Ul‘l’ifl' their experience regarding media relations. Chris Brienza explained some other training ideas that the NBA provides its players during this seminar, including a 12-min videotape that is produced by the NBA and given to every rookie player and available to any other player. Brien-ta commented that the videotape instructs players how to deal with the media, kind ol'esplaining why a beat reporter is different than a columnist, and why a local television guy is different from a broadcast partner, why they might be asking for dil’r‘erent things, and win; d‘lat is what they are looking tor. {Chris Brienza, person-at communication. [998} Brian Mcintyre explained that the league provides additional training for players it necessary. He stated that iftltey don‘t understand it. you explain it, 1 have had sit-downs with a number of players over the years to explain, usually in anticipation ofsontething that 490 Voi. 26. No. 4- Niki: Prolific Remnant might have happened the prior year with another player. You learn something and you esplain the whys. Explain. anticipate. and you work chattelsr with the team public relations directors you can usually get what t-‘utt need. {Brian ls-iclntere. personal communication, W98} Melon-Te offered one strategy that the NBA oli'crs its players in dealing with the media, commenting we tell tlte platters every time we do media training with them. every time you go to talk—what message are you trying to say. Whenever you go into an ‘II‘Itert'ien'1 have a message you want to get across. keep it simple—if you want to say we worked together well as .1 team1 that is your theme. stay with it.“ {Brian ML‘lnn’TC. Personal Communication. 1998: Tile playofiia are another time when the league makes an extra client to ensure the players understand their media responsibilities. and more important, whyt these requirements are necessary in the overall eli'ort ol'ittl‘ortning the Fans. Media relations are crucial during the playot‘ts beeause more people are paying attention to the NBA during this time ot‘the season. ()ne of'thc problems that the NBA has in terms ol'media relations during the playofis is the increased number ol" media memhers covering the games and desiring interview access. To circumwnt any problems, interviews are not conducted in the loc lscr room, but during a group media setting in a separate inten-‘iew area. Representatives From the NBA Cour tnunications Department and the NBA Media Relations Department meet with teams before the NBA playoffs to explain the minimum media requirements of the players. During such a meeting ll-chntyre stresses the advantages of the group interview system. stating we show them, regular season you might stay by s-our locker for a half—hour and answer a whole hunch ol'qluesl'it'tns while you are getting dressed. Iiut then if you come to us and give us your five minutes or ten minutes in a tot-ma] setting. you are at :1 table, an inlormal hack and forth. but you are clothed, you are sitting dots-m the media are sitting down. they are not all in your time. there are sound systems. you can hear every quefition, it is more chilled and it works better For the masses. you don't .get that onevonrone feeling, and players here it. {Brian McIntyre, Personal Comtttunjeatiun. 1993] Mcintyre commented on the increased importance ol' piayers‘ media rela- tions because of ditt'crent techniques that media organizations are using to obtain content, including local cable neneorks that broadcast the games, conducting postgame interviews live from the locker room. Although lt‘lIL’H-‘lCWS FFont the locker room are common on the late local or nest evening‘s 61m} p.tn. news, there is an opportunin to edit the videotape. Melon-Te oli'ered his VlL’W of locker room inten-‘iews on television, stating television likes the locker room because it gives you .1 setting that the average person never gets into. A lot ofteatns how are doing postgame segments live Winter 200” 491 Pulsiir Helm-mm R em'rlv from the locker room, there are a lot oi'possihilitics about what could go wrong, there. but to date we haven't had any;f problems with it. {Brian McIntyre, Personal Communication. [998) It is not merely the television network, bur more important, fans who like the postgame interviews from the locker room. McIntyre commented, “for the guy or the woman sitting at home you don‘t get to go into locker rooms and it is riveting television, you are in the place, the inner sanctum and so it makes good television“ (Brian McIntyre, Personal (Ilommunication, 1998]. Media Relations with Network Television The NBA is a unique organization in that they have guar- an teed live media coverag ' oi'its product of NBA games. Through the signing of a broadcast rights contract, in which a television network pays a certain dollar amount for the rights to broadcast a certain number of games over a certain number of years, the NBA guarantees game cot-'erage and becomes an economic and promotional partner with its broadcast networks. Adam Silver, President and Chief Operating Officer for NBA Entertainment, explained the rationale for the broadcast partnership is simply that “the largest revenue source (for the NBA) is network television money” (Adam Silver, personal communication, 1998}. Begin- ning with the 1998—4999 season, NBC and Turner will pay the NBA a total of $2.4 billion through the 2001—2002 season for the rights to televise NBA games. Tommy Roy, C(J~EXECU[iVC Producer for the N BA on NBC, described the part- nership bcnveen NBC and the NBA as a cycle where, if the NBA does well, more people watch the games, which provides higher ratings and advertising prices and eventually leads to higher broadcast rights fees for the league (Tommy Roy, personal communication, 1993). In addition to unmatched revenue, television networks provide unmatched exposure. Although the NBA works through several media distribution outlets, it is network television that remains the main vehicle in teaching the largest NBA audience. Brian McIntyre claimed that the NBA can reach as many people in one national television broadcast as it can in numerous newspapers or local newscasts. He characterized a game broadcast, whether it is local or national, as nothing more than a BIA-hour infomercial For the N BA product. McIntyre explained the advan- tages ofcxposure through broadcasts on the networks of the broadcast partners, stating local NBC has 3 to 4 min :1 night on their local news, multiplv that times seven and it is 21 to 28 m in a week one broadcast gives us 2 v; to 3 hours depending, on il'vou have a pregame and a postgame. [Through] our broadcast partners, we are going right to your target audience. the Finals and the All-Star Game you are going to a bigger audience, bring'ng the casual fans with you, gives you a tremendous platfimn to be able to focus in on various players, or teams or issues. (Brian McIntyre, personal communication, 1993] 492 Vol. 20, No. 4 NBA Public Hrlnrr'em McIntyre also explained that preference is given to the broadcast partners in terms oi‘aceess to players For interviews commenting “ii-'you take every [reporterl in the room, they are not going to reach as many people as the nem-‘ork—we go out of our way to help bring players/coaches to our network partners" [Brian McIntyre, personal communication. 1998). Through this partnership. both the league and its television networks pro- aCtivcly advocate the NBA agenda to the audience. The partnership between the NBA and NBC is a tremendous promotion vehicle for both entities. Stephen Ulrich, NBC Sports Director oi'Talei'tt and Promotion, called television promo— tion “one oi‘the most important parts of' television that probath doesn‘t get the justice it is due” [Stephen Ulrich, personal communication, 1998'). Ulrich has the primary responsibility ofproducing the tune-in and image prtnnotions For all NBC Sports, including the NBA. Tune-in and image promotions are commercials or announcer yoiccoyers For upcoming NBC sports broadcasts. This resprmsibility includes setting up a schedule ot'when promotions will air during sports teiecasts and where sports telecasts can be promoted in other NBC programming. The promotion ot'other NBC programs within sports includes not only other upconr ing sports telecasts, but any upcoming NBC programming. The promotions within the sports broadcasts could include a short video clip or what NBC simply refers to as “green sheets.‘1 An esample ofa “green sheets“ promotion would he in the middle of the game, during a briefstoppage in the action, the announcer reads prepared copy that might state, “nest Sunday at 3:30 on NBC see a batde of first place teams when the New York Knieks travel to the Staples lCenter to meet Shaquille ()‘Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.” In addition to the announcer, a visual image of the date, time, and one or more of the key players involved in the upcoming event appears on the screen. The “green sheets“ promotions are also used for other NBC programming when the announcer might for esample state, “coming up tonight on NBC,“ or “on Thursday. don‘t. miss a very special ER.“ The overall goal ot‘thesc types of within-game or -event promo- tions is to set up the importance ofthe nest game or nest show. Promotional air-time is a valuable network commodity. and it must he indiciously negotiated. Determining the amount of NBC Sports promotion that will occur during prime-time programming and the amount ot'prime—timc pro gramming promotion that will occur during a sports telecast is a continuous negotiation among the different divisions of NBC as to which promotions and when: in the programming schedule they will appear. Although the promotion of future sports programming within a current sporting event is at the full iurisdiction oil-Ulrich and the sports division, it is a lobbying effort on the part of Uln’ch with the prime-time or news divisions to ensure adequate promotion of NBC Sports broadcasts during other NBC programming. For special NBA games, Ulrich will try to get extra promotional time on a top NBC show such as ER or Friends. After a negotiation for the time devoted to the sports department, whether in the sports telecast Or any other NBC programming, the more difficult decisions center on where to position the promotions For certain programs. Ulrich described the strategy and the objective the network. is trying to achieve through their Winter Ellill] 493 1""!!er R drum"! Rtlrfeil’ promotions as attempting to find the audience members whose interest might be piqued by a promotion about a game or an event for which they had no or only limited knowledge. Ulrich explained his philosophy by stating you try to match up the audience that is watching as to what they probably will watch in the Future. My role is always trying. to find that swing, audience. You haye got to figure there is a core audience that is going. to watch no matter what. My job is to try to find those people who might watch it‘ they knew and it they were compelled to watch and that is pretty hard to do. [Stephen Ulrich‘ personal communication, 1998} Ulrich claimed that it is not necessary to promote the same sport ‘Nifl‘lin an event. He explained that in general. while we do support the type of sport we are watching, we are pron-toting other sports within a spurt. The philosophy behind that is the audience is watching. most ol'them are Fans of that sport so you are sort of. preaching to the choir. There is no use running a minute oFNotre Dame spots in Notre Dame. A person who is going to tune into college football is going to know what the schedule is going to he usually. (Stephen Ulrich1 personal communication. 1998} The NBA and NBC are partners in their endeaVors to promote the league. The broadcasting contract with NBC and TNT requires both ol'these networks to promote NBA telecasts during other programming. In the original contraet that awarded NBC the broadcast rights to the NBA in 1990, NBC agreed to provide $40 million of on—air promotions for NBA games over the tinyear length of the contract with 60% of these promotions broadcast in prime-time. Stephen Ulrich described the NBA as great promotional partners that will do whatever the net~ work needs in terms oi‘yideo or anything else to help promote the upcoming game and credits the NBA for working with its players to have them come across better on television and making them media sawy when it comes to promotion of the NBA. Ulrich provided an example. Charles Barkley was playing Michael [Jordan] on Christmas and we wanted Charles to say. just some quick pickup lines that would say, Hey Michael. Santa is not coming. to your house1 but I am. Just a quick little pickup. The NBA worked on Charles and he was hurting and limping around the court and he wasn‘t in a good mood, but they worked on him and worked on him and we had to be ready to go and it‘s not like you‘ve got ten takes with the guy or an hour. You had like five minutes and you had to be ready to roll. but we got the g“ ahead and sent a crew and Charles was great. {Stephen Ulrich1 personal communication. 1998} The NBA was the first professional Sports league to achieve getting its broadcast partners to cross-pron'iote league games for each other so that NBC would actually have its announcers say. “tonight at 9:30 game two oi‘the Western 494 Vol. 2.6. No. 4- Ni‘lrl Plaid“ Rthttturtt Conference playot’ri'. 35 Phoenix plays Seattle on TNT." NBC also cross—promotes .t et‘nttintlation of their NBA Finals postgame ct'u'erage on their cabie outlet. (INBC. The difficulty of the cross-promotion strategy is that NBC is in essence tellng viewers not to watch theirmvn network, hut another. The cross-promotiun is problematic For NBC‘s atiiliat'es who ming he losing viewers. ,lim Waterbury, President and General Manager of Kl-VWL [T'v’i (Ted-at Rapids. Iowa, and past Chairman of the NRC Aifiliates Board, stated "it you‘re inviting. people to go to one oi'NBC‘s otlter cl1annels,you are also inviting tltem to leave the affiliate that they‘re watching—and that doesn‘t play well to atliliates.“m The cross~prontotion provides a sense that watching the NBA is more important than watching what might be on NBC. The networlt1 Itowet'er. is providing a valuable service to the fans oi'rlte NBA. From the NBA perspective. it is a clear victory because its product is continuously being. promoted. NBA Support Programming. Recognizing the larger audience numbers that are available through television esposuret the NRA has developed and produced its own pro- gramming to support and promote NBA games. In 1982 the NBA created NBA Entertainment, which is responsible tor developing ot'iginal programming de- signed to proactively -. dvoeate the league to various target audiences. Adam Silver described the overall goal of NBA Entertainment is to “market and distribute programming throughout the world to NBA tans“ [Adam Silver. personal com- munieation, 1998i. Gregg Winik, NBA Vice President for Programming and Broadcasring and Executive I’rodttcen adds that the programming produced lift“ NBA Entertainment is “designed to make the NBA pull through all ot'its diilh'ent shows to reach a different target audience“ (Gregg i-‘l’inik, personal communica— tion. [993). Winilt is responsible for the content produced in three different programs: [It NBA inside Stuff, {2] NBA Action. and {3] NBA iant‘ with each program having a distinct target audience. NBA (.Tommissit'uter David Stern com- mented that because there are so many nicheS. defined lav networks themselvem the pro- gramming. really goes to the niche. So Lil'etime. thresample. is .1 great network and it is directed at Women and the WNBA is terrific there. ESPN is purely male. tends to he. and the}r like to see more aetion and that is NBA Today. NBA 'l'onight [on | ESPN 2 are the Fanatics about the pifil‘i‘ttl'iii, they can't get enough. NBC is more general and inside Stntl' is a magazine sltmv. ill-avid Stern. personal Communication. 1999} In addition to the weekly NBA programs. NBA Entertainment is responsible For creating national NBA public relations campaigns. such as the “i Love This Game" or the “NBA Action is Fantastic“ commercials. Silver explained "all [the work oF NBA Entertainment] is geared to develop the value of' NBA game pro— gramming "(Adam Silver. personal communication. [998 i. Silver emphasized the overall objectives of NBA Entertainment are to sell programming, for network Wimet litrltl 495 Pol-lit ernrnrnr Return! television; to promote the game telecast; and, most important, get people to watch NBA gan'ies on television. In these promotional endeavors the NBA again dem- onstrates an understanding of the agenda—setting, Function by being, proactive themselves, but also the value of television programming as the vehicle to promote the agenda the NBA wants to perpetuate. Connnissioner Stern explained the overall strategy oi'NRA support programming, statingT really most ol'it [the NBA strategy] [lows From the recognition that we really do have a product that will be cti’ectii-c by difi'crcnt delivery systems and that can flow to our consumers in a varietj.r ofn-avs and is not limited to games. (David Stern, personal communication, 19991 Stern credited the NBA players tor their role in the promotion ot'tbe NBA, stating our players reinlhrced the N BA through their own appearances in commercials, our players reinforced the NBA by being on 3dr»!er or ER or Friend: or ilfirrpirv Brawn, goin p. on Letterman or berm or Ara-uh: Hall or Crmon O’Brien. There is a sclt' perpetuating machine here that is extraordinary. {David Stern, personal communication, 1999i DISCUSSION This case study of the NBA public relations and promo— tional strategies reveals that in the triangular relationship among public relations1 mass media, and the audience it has been demonstrated through public relations strategies that the N BA is proactive in assisting the mass media content selection and framing processes, Several public relations strategies are extremely instrumen— tal in how the NBd is framed to the public, such as providing the media With biographical and statistical information, ensuring media access to players and coaches, educating players about media relations, working closely with their broadcast partners in promotion, and creating support televisitni programming designed to reach various target audiences. The NBA objectives, From an informa- tional perspective, of making its organization the easiest to cover and, from a promotional perspective, ot'being an advocate and ensuring the NBA t’iCWthint is always a part ol'a story are worthy objectives oi‘any public relations practitioner For the organization that he or she represents. It can be concluded that NBA personnel certainlyr believe they are a very powerfitl agent in the agenda-setting process and that mass media coverage would be vastly diiferent without the public relations and promotional strategies that are implemented by the NBA. In this case studyr the proactive public relations strategies of the NBA help raise the question, who sets the public agenda? Agenda—setting research has dem- onstrated the poWer of the mass media to influence the audiencv: through their selection and framing, processes. In agenda-setting research, the mass media are often the source credited with this position of‘influencc, and the amount oi'money and exposure that the NBA receives From television networks does confer power to 496 Vol. 26, No. 4 NBA PmWi'r errfrim these hroadeasr organixations. Htm'ever, simply actepting the mass media at the sole agenda-setting power without recognizing the important role of content pttwiderst the organizations with an age ode to promote and transi'et to the public. operating, as advricates for their organization ii» to neglect a critical phase of the creation oi'masa media content. The relations l‘it‘l’WL‘Cl‘i the mass media and orga- nizationa providing media content. whether the NBA. government. or corpora- tions. must he considered in the agenda-setting process. Although many public relations initiatives involve using the mass media to reach the audience, it is imperative tor the public relations practitioner to under- srand that the}.r are very much a power hrolter in the public relations, 111355 media, and audience relationship. It behooves the public relations practitioner to assist in the gatekeeping processes of selecting and Framing mass media content and not simply rel},r on a mate. media interpretation ofeventa. it it: the responsibility of the public relations practitioner to develop and implement strategies that do proac- tively advocate the organiaatirm they represent in the most positive manner. Notes l. Maxwell E. McComias and Donald I... Shaw1 "The Agenda-setting Function ul'ihe Mass Media“ Public Opinion Quarterly 36 [19?2J, pp. 176—! 8?. 2. Maxwell E. MC(_:(Jml?S. Donald L. Shaw. and David Weaver led. J. “Communication and Democracy: Exploring the Intellectual Frontiers in Agendansetting 'l'heory." lMahwah, N]: lawrencc Erlhautn Associates. 199?}. 3. Maxwell E. Meijomhs and Donald 1.. Shaw. “The Ei'ohnion ol' Agenda-setting Research: 'l‘wenni-iive Years in the Marketplaee oi'ldeam" jrmrnn! aftqummuimtiuu 43 {1993], pp. 53—67. 4m Ruhrtrt Entmfln. “Framing: 'I'OWard Clarification ol‘a Fractured Paradigm.“ lflfJF-HJI} nj'tlnmmimirmian 42- i 1993 }. pp. SirSB. 5. Ihid.‘ p. 55. 6. Kevin Carragee, Mark Roacnhlatt, and Gene Michaud. “Agenda—setting Research: A Grinder and Theoretical .J’tltemative,“ in Sari Thomas (ed. 1, Studio in Crmommim- mm, Vol. 3, [Norwoud, N]: .f’ihleit, 1987), pp. 35—49, 17. Everett M. Rogers, lame-s W. hearing. and Dorine Bregrnatn “The Anatomy of Agendaasett‘tng Research.“ journal qf'Cammmn'mrnm 43 l 1993 }. pp. 63 — 84. 3. Lawrence A. Wenner. "Media. Sports, and Society: The Research Agenda,“ in Law- rence A. Wenner. iedIi, Media, Sports. and Sentry i New-hurt Path: Sagc‘ 1989), pp. 13—48. 9. lane: Lever and Stanton Wheeler, “Masai Media and the Experience ul'Sport“ (Tram- munimtirm Research 20 [1993]. pp. 1254-13. ID. Rich Brown, “NBC Cable Mth Vex Al'filiates." [intoxicating rim! CHM! 1215 Hunt: '7, I.996).p. I5. Winter 2000 +97 ...
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CAP_320_mediarelationsarticle - Public Relation-t Review....

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