PUBLICIZING YOUR TEAM — Getting the Word Out – Part II
Writing the Youth League Team’s Press Releases (Part II)
by Doug Abrams
Newspaper articles about youth league games provide players short-term recognition and long-term memories. Many suburban and local newspapers — dailies and weeklies alike — publish well-written press releases.
In last week’s column, I began discussing ten guidelines for how to write and submit press releases about youth sports associations and teams. The first five guidelines appeared last week; the final five guidelines appear here, followed by two sample press releases at the end. The two samples, drawn from the few hundred published press releases I have written over the years, might help associations, coaches and others who wish to begin writing releases for their own youth league teams.
6. Recognize all the players
Try to get each player’s name into print at least once during the season because publicity is important to everyone. Most teams have stronger players and weaker players, but every player contributes in some way.
In my youth hockey press releases, I name not only the goal scorers but also the players who registered assists, including the defensemen who play instrumental roles but normally do not score goals as often as the forwards. I also learned quickly that if the players sense that scoring is the surest ticket into the newspapers, some players might “hog the puck” to try to score rather than play a balanced team-oriented game. For better or worse, publicity can affect the performance of pros and youth leaguers alike.
7. Cover losses as well as wins
Once the players learn that the coach or a designated adult writes the team’s press releases, the releases speak not only to newspaper readers but also to the players themselves. Youth leaguers are sensitive to cues sent by adults, including cues that the adults do not even mean to send.
If you submit press releases only after victories, the team senses that the players mean more to you after victories than after defeats. But if you also write about losses, players learn that handling defeat gracefully is part of sports, and that their elders respect them for a solid effort, win or lose. I would sometimes send no press release after a blowout loss, but that is a judgment call.
8. Local newspapers usually want local names
Local newspapers survive by accenting local news, but also by winning a reputation for candor. For writers of youth sports press releases, this combination usually means emphasizing local players’ names but also giving other players their due. When a local player stars, mention the local connection (“Columbia’s Sammy Smith scored the second goal. . . .”). But telling the entire story means accounting for the entire score, including leading efforts by opponents. The sports editor may have instructions about the paper’s expectations for local news.
9. Prepare a “souvenir scrapbook” for the players
The team’s post-season banquet or party is an excellent opportunity to present each player a scrapbook containing all the newspaper articles that appeared throughout the season, plus a roster and other memorabilia such as tournament announcements and the like. With some cutting-and-pasting and a photocopy machine, the coach or designated parents can produce a bound souvenir that will stand the test of time.
10. Thank the sports editors at the end of the season
I wrote an earlier column about “the power of thank you.” I repeat the primary sentiment here: When people do someone else a good turn, they earn the right to be thanked.
If the newspaper published the team’s press releases throughout the season, the sports editor and staff deserve thanks because they could easily hit the delete button every time or throw the press releases in the waste basket instead. Sports editors are accustomed to catching grief from dissatisfied parents, who accuse them of shortchanging their children; editors may be less accustomed to hearing gratitude for a job well done.
At the end of the season, your team should send the sports editors a thank-you card signed by all the players themselves, and a separate thank-you card signed by all the parents. The editors will remember the team’s thoughtfulness because they receive so few tokens of appreciation. Today’s thank-yous can also pay rich dividends because they are your team’s ticket to more articles next season.
Postscript: Two Sample Press Releases
Here are two press releases drawn from the few hundred I have written since 1970. Both appeared in the sports pages within a few days. Take the releases’ format and content merely as starting points, and tailor your releases to your personal style and your newspaper’s expectations.
The first release, from Long Island in 1983, contains play-by-play description for a newspaper that was willing to publish that description. We were not sure that the newspaper would publish the last paragraph’s editorializing, which we hoped would place the state championship tournament in perspective for our players and parents. The last paragraph paid off when the newspaper chose to publish it rather than cut it.
The second release, from Missouri in 2006, contains only game statistics because that is what the newspaper wanted:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 27, 1983
For further information, please call Doug Abrams: —————-
Thank you very much.
Nassau Wins State Hockey Crown
Combining finesse with steady disciplined play, the Nassau County Midget ice hockey team won the New York State championship last weekend in Clayton, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. The Nassau team, which features many of Long Island’s best 15-16-year-old players, . . . swept the state crown, winning all three preliminary games before trouncing Rochester, 7-2, in the semifinals and blanking Watertown 6-0 in the finals.
Nassau opened the eight-team tournament Friday night with a hard-fought 3-2 triumph over defending champion Potsdam. After Potsdam took an early lead in the first minute, Nassau’s ———— scored the equalizer with a slapshot late in the opening period. The teams traded goals in the second stanza to set the stage for ———–’s dramatic game-winner, a deflection with less than three minutes remaining. Potsdam continued to apply pressure but was thwarted on every attempt by goalie ————— and the Nassau defense, led by Captain —————, ———————, —————–, ——————, and ———————–. [The article then described the remaining four games before concluding with this paragraph:]
In presenting the State Championship Trophy to Nassau head coach Wally Livingstone and assistant coach Doug Abrams, tournament director Kevin Kittle told the cheering crowd, “The Nassau team showed us more than just skillful hockey this weekend. They also showed us clean, disciplined hockey. They are a credit to themselves, their parents, and to Nassau County.”
* * * *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 7, 2006
For further information, please call Doug Abrams: —————-
Thank you very much.
Eagles Mites Down Twin Bridges
The Central Missouri Eagles mite hockey team defeated the Twin Bridges Lightning, 8-5, at the Washington Park Ice Arena in Jefferson City Saturday morning. ————— led the Eagles with five goals. ————- scored twice, and ————- also scored. ————, ——————-, and ———- registered assists. Eagles goalie ———— starred with 35 saves.
The Eagles mites tied the Meramec Sharks, 5-5, in St. Louis Sunday morning. The Eagles’ ———— scored a three-goal hat trick, and ————– scored twice. Goalie ———— had 20 saves.
The St. Louis Rockets downed the Eagles pee wee team, 8-2, in St. Louis on Saturday morning. —————- and ————— scored for the Eagles, and ——— and ——— had assists.
The Affton Americans downed the Eagles pee wees, 7-2, in St. Louis on Sunday morning. ————— and ————- scored for the Eagles, and ———– and ———————– registered assists.