A little while ago on this blog I posed the question above and used it to promote my vision of what good media training should be. However, recent events have led me to believe that while there is a lot of media training going on behind the scenes in sport, the message is not getting through.
I am a firm believer that being a member of a team for your country, your club, you are representative of your flag or badge. You are an ambassador, and must act as such.
Only yesterday I attended a fascinating presentation by the sports agents Beswicks which included discussions on players’ image rights. When they play for clubs they are helping their clubs sell shirts and become a marketing vehicle for their employer. David Beckham was the perfect example when he went to LA Galaxy to raise the profile of the MLS for £124m – although his marketing value probably outweighed even that cost.
So back to my point of why bother with media training. And I stress here that Sir Ian Botham was my sporting hero, along with Kevin Keegan when I grew up. I remember a few “scandals” around “Beefy” and Keegan’s Charity Shield bust up with Billy Bremner so neither were immune to front page tabloid headlines. As a sports-mad teenager I didn’t much care – they were characters, passionate and inspiring on the field of play.
And I am guessing many of you reading this will see Ben Stokes in the same category. You may also have seen the Sun video that was made public of him lashing out at 2.30 in the morning after an England victory over the West Indies. Whatever the mitigating circumstances, we all know that England’s contracted cricketers are media trained to the nth degree. Some are better than others but for many the personality is drained out of them, the story-telling is lost, for fear of slipping up. Ben Stokes – in his interviews – also tows the party line and we don’t see the real him. But that media training must extend to behaviour off the field. He is a role model and must act accordingly otherwise that media training cost is truly wasted.
I know people say: “well… he’s a human being, we all make mistakes, he’s still a young man” etc etc. Well this is not the first time it has happened to Stokes representing England.
Another name I will throw into the mix is Daniel Berger, a rookie golfer on the PGA Tour who helped America crush the Internationals in the recent Presidents Cup. His soundbite towards the end of day 2 went viral… how he wanted to grind the International team’s noses into the ground in the singles: “I want to beat them even worse”. PGA Tour rookies are also usually well-media trained to extol the virtues of the tour. Berger let down himself and the game’s dignity with a comment that had BBC broadcasting legend Peter Alliss scolding him on Twitter, rightly so.
So is the media training working? Maybe those media trainers are saying the wrong things. Maybe if we are all “just human”, or “making mistakes” we shouldn’t bother.
My final word on this is Media Training is about being yourself, showing emotion, telling stories, protecting your team, being proud of your club or country – and when you do make those mistakes, hen you are disrespectful, or violent on a night out or the heat of battle you apologise quickly and fully.
I’ve heard nothing yet!