The 2016 Winter Youth Olympics promoted event images on Flickr and showed how this young medium can appeal to young audiences. The event’s “Young Reporters” team, selected after professional training at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games, demonstrated how this talent can be leveraged to build and consolidate the audience for sports events. Here are some of the most important key success factors that rising stars are using to keep sports journalism fresh and appeal to new audiences:
Captivating images. At the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics, photos of mixed male-female teams competing stood out because of their novelty. This was the first time the event was on the program. Bold color contrasts also help images stand out. This can be challenging for winter sports visually dominated by snowscapes or aquatic sports whose photos are dominated by bluish scenes. Images of intense competition, such as clusters of speed skaters or runners beginning a turn add the all-important dimensions of speed and motion. Capturing the emotions of victory is a sports reporting standard, but the sheer volume of similar photos competing for audience attention makes it challenge to find victory photos that truly stand out.
Participant engagement. For many fans, reading first-hand accounts is the next best thing to being there. And it is much less expensive. Quoting and capturing the enthusiasm of actual spectators that many readers can relate to can bring sports events alive in a way that readers value.
Smartphone presentation savvy. Olympic Top Sponsor Samsung has made a large investment targeted at promoting viewing sports content on smartphones. Adapting content to this format is not easy. Grabbing audience attention on the first screen viewed is essential. A unique compelling headline and an introduction with a unique storyline make a good start. While the international news agencies do excellent work reporting top sports news quickly, other sports journalists will often benefit from checking the news agency reports and making sure that their own feature reports present a decidedly different perspective. A few links can help engage the smartphone audience, but too many links distracts audience attention.
Knowing your audience. Readers who actually compete in sports themselves are a different audience than amateur athletes, who in turn are a different audience than spectators. Eliciting reader feedback and reviewing related social media profiles can help build familiarity with the audience and help customize content for the largest potential audience.
Original headlines and content. Direct competition with news agencies rarely works for independent sports journalists. Taking a distinctively different approach by building contacts with important influences on the sports world is much more effective. Popular athletes are a great choice. Good contacts with and athlete’s manager or relatives might open the right doors. But athletes are busy training and this can be difficult. Equipment suppliers, on the other hand, employ media relations professionals to promote their expertise. They make extra efforts to feature the role of their equipment in sports success. Many local tourism agencies of regions that host sports events will also provide experts and contacts to add value to feature reports about the sports events.
Practical advice. The popular magazine style format of advice columns can be adapted to sports reports to differentiate content from formulaic news agency reports. Worthwhile topics include:
- How to attend a fan event
- How to contact a the managers of a team or athlete
- How to acquire sports memorabilia at benefit auctions
- How to secure tickets for sports events
- How to select sports travel packages