When the term sports communications comes up, a few things come to mind: ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, other sport-centric websites, or even the stuff SIDs (sports information directors) do. These though are not what I’m referring to…I am referring to all the other communication that has to happen for an organization to operate efficiently. Emails, meetings, bulletin boards, water cooler chatter – all different forms of communication that, together, all make up the network of information flow in an organization. So, what is my point you might ask? Well, my question today is how well are you communicating? Do your peers know what you have going on so that in the case of a personal emergency, they could cover your duties? Do your other departments understand what constraints you are under, what goals you have and what other initiatives you’re working on? Does your boss know what you’re really doing over there behind your desk or is everyone pretty much on an island, left to fend for themselves?
Perhaps these examples are elementary, but seriously…think about it. How many times a week or a month do you find yourself frustrated because it looks like someone else isn’t doing their job? Don’t judge! How many times in the last however many days have you been irritated because someone didn’t reply to your email or didn’t let you know about the new promos that were going out? Communication is a two-way street that requires consistency from both parties. Even if the other people you feel like you need information from aren’t forthcoming, you’ve got an equal responsibility to reach out to them with good intentions. I understand this can be difficult, but good intentions are what will save that interaction.
Another way to look at sport communications is through a PR lens. Does your organization have a crisis management plan in place? Are all the people that would need to make a decision or provide guidance prepped for such an event? Have you drafted out a list of all the channels you could use to “put out the fire?” Nobody really wants to talk about that stuff, but it is critically important that those things get worked out in advance, that way you are at least prepared to deal with it when something comes up or goes down.
In sports, we’re under constant surveillance and must be prepared at all times for no matter what happens. One benefit to being on top of what is going on in your department, is that you have the very small window of opportunity to break the news yourself and put as positive a spin on what happens as possible – BEFORE someone else starts talking first and totally breaks you down. At that point, you’ve got no choice but to react and try to cover up something that possibly could have been prevented. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of the digital society we live in where nearly everyone you see has got a camera out waiting to get a juicy story posted online. My suggestion is that we renew our commitment to constant, quality contact and get moving in the same direction, at the same time, and at the same pace. Communication is the lubrication for superior results.
Apply this to your team, your department, your personal interactions and practice, practice, practice! Go Forth!
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