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Oct 3 / Aron Glatzer

Covering live events: Methods and etiquette

Evander Holyfield press scrum

Evander Holyfield talks to reporters before his 1997 fight against Mike Tyson.

As Bleacher Report has built credibility as one of the most entertaining and engaging sites to find sports content, we are in turn gaining greater access for event press credentials and player interviews than ever before.

We have secured press box access to the likes of the NFL, college football, NBA, MLB, NHL, MMA, NASCAR, pro boxing, pro soccer, pro golf and college basketball. The purpose is to reward our top contributors with validation for their hard work, to gain visibility by the teams and organizations we write about, and to gain athlete and coaching access necessary for creative, top-notch columns to feature on the site.

These requests are handled internally by B/R staff to ensure these opportunities are going to our best and most-deserving writers.

Once you have earned the opportunity, we will provide guidance to help you take advantage of it for stories we can promote on the site, in appropriate newsletters and via partnerships with the likes of SFGate.com, LATimes.com, NHL.com, Philly.com, BaltimoreSun.com, Chron.com, SeattlePI.com and MySA.com.

A Bleacher Report writer credentialed to a live event acts as an ambassador for the entire website. As a result, professional journalistic conduct is required.

Rules of Conduct

Don’t ask for anyone’s autograph. We have a zero-tolerance policy on this issue.

Don’t ask to take a picture with anyone.

Writers are strongly encouraged to dress in a professional manner. A suit is not required. Business casual works well (no sweats or T-shirts). Do not wear colors or merchandise of either team playing, or any team that could be construed as a rival.

No cheering in the press box. It’s a big no-no.

Expectations

Writers are expected to attend the event and conduct interviews afterward at either a press conference or one-on-one interviews in the locker room.

These interviews should be transformed into either a variety of topics related to one athlete, or several athletes discussing one overarching subject. See examples below.

If at a press conference, be aggressive. Most writers tend to shy away from asking questions, so the few who are aggressive get their time in. Ask questions that are geared toward what happens next.

Game recaps are typically avoided by B/R, as the Associated Press and newspapers do a good job on this front. The exception is when events are receiving strong traction in the search market, such as major UFC cards. In these instances, live blogs are valuable, particularly when the writer also has a pulse on the atmosphere of the crowd and anybody notable in attendance, along with reports on any insight coming out of the press box. Check in with your Deputy Editor or Team Leader in advance to determine if there is enough traffic value to warrant a live blog.

The results

Here is a list of different types of desired content to come out of this access.

1. Here is an example of using the access to talk to a variety of players on both teams under a set premise of what the Giants-Dodgers rivalry means to the players currently participating in it.

Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants Talk MLB Rivalry

2. Here is a second example of having players from both teams react to one specific moment after a game.

Gordon Hayward’s Halfcourt Heave: Reaction to the Shot from Both Teams

3. Below are two examples of using press access for interesting, forward-looking interviews. Lists and slideshows play extremely well with our audience, and when applicable, can be created from interview quotes. The first compares Mark Trumbo’s rookie season with the Angels with the best in team history.

Mark Trumbo and the 10 Greatest Roookie Seasons in Los Angeles Angels History

In the second, the writer gets Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Johnny Damon to open up about what it will mean to pass Ted Williams on the MLB all-time hits list.

B/R Talks to Johnny Damon, Humbled by Chance to Pass Williams

4. Here is an example of a live blog that follows this format, down to entrance music MMA fighters walk into the ring with.

UFC 126 Silva vs. Belfort Results and Reactions Live from Mandalay Bay

5. The final example is a personal behind-the-scenes record of what goes on at an event that others may not realize. It’s rare that a story like this will work for our audience, but it can if done properly.

NHL Winter Classic 2011: 5 Reasons Why It’s the NHL’s Most Unforgettable Yet

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Aron Glatzer is Bleacher Report’s Communications Manager.

  • Kkraetzer

    Key point from this is to “ask questions that are geared toward what happens next”.

    Often I will ask, what did you learn from the experience? After a loss, it is often the most difficult time to ask questions, you can ask, “Can you build on any aspects of the game?”

    Sometimes we find several players are brought into a post game interview area and most of the questions will be directed to one or more players with another not having a chance to participate. I always ask a question of any player brought into an interview area who has not been asked a question.

    At last year’s Army-Navy game, post game Army press conference, most of the questions went to the seniors and qb on the dais. I asked asked a question of the freshman for whom it was his first game at that level, probably just a soft, “What was it like for you playing in your first Army-Navy game?”

    Have to imagine the player enjoyed being asked a question and being able able to gain experience about handling press conference questions.