Published On: July 9, 2020
Sports Media Management

People often club Sports Media Management and Public Relations. The truth is, the two are distinct fields. While one can say that Sports Media Management is a subset of a larger domain called Public Relations, but it is very specific and requires special skills.

While Public Relations focus on building a good image for an institution, maintain good relations with the media etc, Sports Media Management takes into account that and other sporting responsibilities. A Sports Media Manager is not only responsible in maintaining good relations with the media but also adhering to team ethics, principles etc.

The key to success as a sports industry professional is an understanding of the game. Even if one doesn’t understand the broader points, it is imperative that one grasps the philosophical aspects and appreciates the mindset of an athlete. An athlete is more driven than most, values his or her time and their practice routines are sacrosanct.

If you, as a sports industry professional or manager, respect that, an athlete will automatically hold you in high regard and work well with you. This was one of the most important lessons I learnt in my role as the Media Manager of the Gujarat Lions during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016. It has also held me in good stead in discharging my duties as the IPL Media Manager since 2017.

The reason I talk about the need for understanding the game, or at least at athlete’s mindset is because we as industry professionals are there to serve sport and ensure seamless processes for its continuance. As a Media Manager, you have to balance out players’ on-field compulsions with the off-field commitments.

If a cricketer would tell me that he has to be with the physio at a certain time, or meet the coach for a meeting, I had to respect that and schedule his interviews at a time he is relaxed and ready for it. As an IPL Media Manager, I have to also take stock of different situations and be flexible. Sometimes, an injury may keep a player away from an interview he has committed to or there could be other circumstances that may prevent him from making an appearance.

In that second, you have to use your judgment and make adjustments – perhaps recommend another player who may have performed well. In that case, your understanding of the game comes into picture.

This is where Sports Media Manager is very different from your normal Public Relations (PR). As a PR, you only have to project a good image and manage a great relationship with the press.

However, as a professional Sports Media Manager you need to manage their sport along with all those media commitments – it’s like walking a very tight rope but once you get a hang of it, you can excel. PR professionals generally deal with assignments where they need to create copious media exposure and hence have a habit of promising numerous interviews.

If you are dealing with a sportsperson, it may not be possible as they have time constraints and as such, will not compromise on their schedules for a little publicity.

Thus, one needs to get a hang of sports and athletes to be a success as a Media Manager. Your biggest priority has to be your athlete and your relationship with him or her. Once that is settled, you can get the best out of them and manage a fantastic relationship with the media. It is all about balance.

Mr. Nishad Pai Vaidya

Written by Nishad Pai Vaidya

Sports Anchor and Media Management Professional

Nishad Pai Vaidya is a sports anchor, writer and media management professional. As an anchor and writer, he has worked with leading media houses and covered numerous world cricketing events. As a media manager he has worked with the IPL since 2017

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