Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Real Roles Of Media Officers At Clubs

It is becoming embarrassing that whenever you pick a newspaper in Nigeria and open to the sports pages, you are confronted with bold pictures and texts of foreign leagues such as the English Premiership or the Spanish La Liga. In South Africa, according to Gary Rathbone, SuperSport’s chief in Africa, the story is different as emphasis is on the Premier Soccer League (PSL), as that country’s top-flight division is called.
When the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) in conjunction with the league sponsor, Globacom Nigeria Limited, organised a seminar to run concurrently with the Glo Super Four last month in Ilorin, the issue of the media officers was brought to the fore on how they can project their clubs. That seminar was held just over two weeks ago, and as I write today, most of the media officers attached to our Premier League clubs are only reactionary image-makers, who are still tied to the aprons of their club chairmen. Perhaps, these set of media officers have forgot so soon that in this pre-season, they can generate reports from within their clubs and dispatch via telephone or e-mail to those of us in the mainstream of reportage of the league.
It might not be out of place to say that most of the media officers that took part in the lecture titled ‘Duties and Functions of Club Media Officers’ delivered by Globacom sponsorship manager, Harry Iwuala, can still recall some of the key points of that paper. In that lecture, it was made clear that the media officers must understand that their clubs are brands and must try to fashion out tools to nurture them as brands.
Just last week, I had to urgently confirm a report that crossed my path and when I decided to call the media officer of this particular club in respect of that report, he simply asked me to send him my e-mail address, which I did. I found it shocking that this same media officer I have sent my e-mail address for the umpteenth time and yet he keeps asking for the same e-mail address. Now that brings to the fore, the computer and internet competence of some of our club media officers. Do they really know how to use these tools to project the image of their clubs especially in this jet-age? Sadly enough that was one area that I had expected the organisers of the last NPL/Glo seminar to have harped on. Unfortunately, most of the media officers are not equipped to do their jobs as image-makers. During that seminar in Ilorin, I overheard some of the media officers saying that they want to write the NPL or Globacom to provide them with laptops and internet connections, and I wondered why they cannot ask their clubs for such equipment or even buy themselves. The media officers also need to know the importance of photos in the scheme of club branding, and should make demands for cameras to complement their image-making jobs. These are clubs which get huge subventions from their state governments and doling out less than N100,000 to purchase a laptop for its media office should not be too much.
With the season due to start in two weeks, more than 80 per cent of the reports concerning the Globacom Premier League have been generated by those in the mainstream of covering the league. Only a handful of the media officers have thought it wise to reach the league correspondents via telephone or the internet. Some would readily argue that their clubs have official websites where information can be got. But when those websites are visited, you hardly find anything of interest since the websites usually remain dormant with the latest information being reports that is as old as the club’s last achievements in most cases.
As for those clubs that have found it hard to build themselves official websites, there are other options before them. The internet offers almost every solution to every problem. Media officers of the clubs are supposed to take charge of their fortress like Iwuala advised them by identifying how they want to disseminate information to its immediate publics, which includes the league correspondents and supporters of the club among others. Apart from sending messages through e-mail or telephone, the media officers can as well explore the use of blogs registered in their clubs’ names. This is an option in the absence of an official website.
Until minute issues concerning the coverage of the league is seen as important by the media officers, their bosses, the league correspondents, who are usually subjected to limited opportunities to travel to league venues and managers of the media houses, foreign leagues such as the English Premier League (EPL) would continue to hold sway especially with information concerning clubs as such Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool among others at fans’ fingertips.

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