Rugby League media days: The inside scoop

Ever wondered what the state of play is at a media day for a Super League club?

I recently attended events for Salford Red Devils and the Widnes Vikings and thought it might be good to give an insight into what goes on.

Ahead of the Salford press day journalists attending needed to email the club with player requests.

This has been the case for the other press days which I’ve attended on behalf of Love Rugby League and it’s a good way of avoiding a frenzy on the day.

Once we arrived in one of the club’s meeting rooms we had to wait a short while before the first players we wanted to speak to were brought through.

As well as audio interviews my colleague and editor John Davidson also did a video interview with Kris Brining which ensured there was a bit of variety when it came to the content produced.

There was also a sponsor board set up at the end of the room with the Salford Red Devils brand on which offered a good background for video interviews.

Most of the other journalists from organizations such as the Press Association and the Sun newspaper were only doing audio interviews. This might mean the final content they put out is not that interactive.

After the press day had finished we did a Facebook Live rounding up key events from the day which was a fresh approach to sharing news with people that follow the page.

It is also a great way of increasing engagement because people can comment and also rate the content.

Super League were the only other organization to share content in this way – they decided to sit two Salford players down and let the public ask them questions.

This is another good way of increasing engagement and driving traffic which could be something loverugbyleague look to do in the future.

When it came to the Widnes media day there seemed to be slightly less organization because it was advertised as a 12.00pm start, but the players had some lunch first so it meant waiting around for a bit.

When they had finished it was left to the journalists to be able to recognise them and for some of the younger players that proved a bit tricky.

It might have been better to sit players down behind a table with their name on it so that everything was more organised.

In terms of the content people were producing, John filmed another video interview with one of Widnes’ new signings Tom Armstrong.

Again it is a different way of doing things and may help to attract viewers who don’t want to read text.

One of the good things about the Widnes event was the venue. It was held at the Parklands Club which had numerous round tables and chairs.

The media day also involved some players being photographed in their kit

When you did want to interview a player it was easy to make them feel at ease by offering them a seat and so they are likely to engage more about various subjects.

With both media days the journalists had to do a group interview with the managers, meaning there was no chance of breaking any exclusive news.

This is the case with a variety of sports and although everybody’s content can end up being similar it is a good way to make sure things run efficiently on the day.

One of the key things to take from this article is the change in the way content is being shared and consumed.

Facebook Live, which launched last April, is just one example of this constantly changing media landscape and is a definitive indicator for how things will develop in the future.

Finding that elusive first rung on the job ladder

Whatever field you aspire to work in it is very often a tricky proposition to get that break and secure your first job offer.

The sports journalism industry is no different in that respects and in an increasingly competitive market it is vital to try and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other people.

My journey to find employment in the industry started over two years ago when I secured a place on the Sports Journalism course at the University of Central Lancashire.

UCLan’s Sports Journalism course is accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. Photo credit: begstealborrowfilms.com.

This was really exciting news because it was the first crucial stepping stone which would lead on to plenty of great opportunities.

The university’s facilities are rated as excellent and the course has strong relationships with various sports and media organizations for example the BBC, Preston North End FC and Wigan Warriors. This filled me with a lot of hope ahead of my first semester.

During my first year I volunteered as a reporter for the university’s radio station covering the men’s hockey first team. I attended their home and away matches providing updates on key events. After each match I also wrote a report for the student newspaper’s website.

I was really grateful to be given this opportunity at the start of my university course. I was able to sample experience of both broadcast and print media whilst developing a variety of skills like time-management, research and working as part of a team.

Alongside my second year I was given another invaluable opportunity when I started helping out with Chorley FC’s media department.

I spent the whole season covering home and away matches providing live updates on the club’s Twitter account which has 15,000 followers, as well as writing match reports for the website and club programme.

I covered Chorley’s win against Lancaster City in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy final. Photo credit: boltoncentral.co.uk

As well as gaining invaluable experience in online media, I also got to sample a variety of press boxes including the one at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium which was a proud moment for myself.

At the end of my second year I decided it was time to try and diversify, because there are quite a lot of students who want to work in football. I felt like if I could gain some experience in another sport it would set me apart.

Initially I heard that British Ice Hockey were looking for people to help contribute, so I enquired but unfortunately I didn’t have the adequate experience.

Determined to broaden my horizons I asked if there were any other sports I could help write about and as it happened Love Rugby League belonged to the same company – JDG Media.

I contacted the editor, John Davidson, and was instantly given the opportunity to cover some rugby league matches on TV and write reports.

In the next few months I built up a vast amount of contacts and also provided a variety of content from in-depth features to match previews.

Looking back one of the best moments was receiving accreditation to cover the 2016 Four Nations final at Anfield Stadium. The ground is a spectacular venue and the media facilities are world class, so it was an amazing opportunity and one which I will remember for a long time.

JDG Media’s clients include sports governing bodies, professional sports clubs and marketing agencies. Photo credit: www.jdgsport.com

As part of my third and final year at university I needed to spend a week on placement and so I thought it would be a great opportunity to come to the JDG Media offices and meet the team.

Before I arrived I was keen to be given the chance to contribute and help out with a number of activities, including continuing to help provide content for LRL.

If I can further develop my list of contacts that would be another positive during my time on placement.

Looking ahead, when I finish university in a few months I would like to freelance for a sports website or the sports section of a newspaper.

I know freelance jobs are tricky to come by when first starting out, but I am keen to take my time and make sure my first position is one which I enjoy and offers the right working environment.

Another graduate uses JDG as springboard in to the sports industry

Intern Sam Whyte has earned himself a full-time position at BetFred, adding to a growing list of people to have used JDG Media as a springboard in to the sports industry.

Recent University of Chester graduate Sam has, off his own back, been working for JDG Media since the back end of 2015 as a Junior Reporter, primarily working on Love Rugby League but also contributing to other client work – and perhaps even more significantly, contributing to the office environment. Read More