In today's ABC Grandstand sports digital segment we looked at the how two of Melbourne's biggest teams handled two big signings this week.

[audio:|titles=ABC Grandstand – Sean Callanan discusses the press conference in the digital age]

Download mp3

How Sports News Breaks in Digital age

Wednesday afternoon the news of Melbourne Storm's Cooper Cronk calling a press conference started the planning for the Storm's version of “The Decision”  we discussed all possible scenarios & how fans might react.

Luckily for Storm fans Cooper Cronk decided to stay with Cooper Cronk & #morecronk both trending across Australia on Thursday.

Great work from Daniel Pinne (AKA @DanPinne)behind the scenes, you might know him from his guest post on Facebook grouping posts (which still apply & worth the read).

See how it played out on social platforms via the Storify compilation built by Daniel.

Only 24 hours before #morecronk down the road Collingwood tried a different approach using their new TV show  “The Club” to have the first interview with Scott Pendlebury after he signed a 4-year deal with the Pies.

Sports Geek Medals – ad:tech Melbourne edition

One note, late entry to AFL Coaches on Twitter @SandoAFC Brenton Sanderson has joined Twitter one week too late.


Bronze – Anthony Harrison – Cricket Victoria

Anthony talked about building a brand from scratch & how effective Instagram was in connecting with fans at the Big Bash.

Silver – Jonathon Simpson – AFL

His social media policy was well received & makes complete sense more people should follow it.

Gold – Kim Trengove – Tennis Australia

Great presentation on all the digital work they did at Aussie Open – Mobile, Video, Social. Hitting aces all over the digital court.

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast over the Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Get the Sports Geek podcasts

Subscribe to  or Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes.

Podcast transcription

FRANK: Every time Sean Callanan comes to Breakfast Grandstand as the Sports Guru, something happens…

SEAN: I’ve seen cricket today. It must not like me.

FRANK: Sorry, that just happened right when you arrived.

SEAN: That’s all right, Francis. That’s all right. I’m good thanks. Even though the Pies (Magpies) lost last night I’m still happy that the season’s started. It’s good to have footy back.

FRANK: Nice win. For the Magpies, they’ll be fine.

SEAN: Oh, definitely, definitely…

FRANK: They’re going to be right there when it matters. This week’s been interesting in the world of digital sports, hasn’t it? Because once again it’s an example of how things have changed dramatically for clubs, fans and players when it comes to big news.

SEAN: Yeah, so, Wednesday you would’ve got that obtuse media release that Cooper Cronk has called for a press conference, and literally when I heard that, I saw a tweet, then I heard it on the radio, and then my phone rang, and it was guys at the Storm going, ‘Okay, what’re we to do?’ I went, you know, we’ve got to handle this press conference, and I said, “Okay, let’s plan for it. Just, you know, you can tell me. I won’t tweet it. I won’t tell anyone what’s happening. Is he going or staying?” Oh, ‘We don’t know as yet.’

FRANK: They really didn’t know it?

SEAN: This is a day out. This is 24 hours out. So I said, “Well, where’s the plan for scenario A and scenario B?” So the whispers were that he was going. There’s all this money awash with Gold Coast. He’s going to take the cash. It’s a go-home factor, and so how do we handle that in a social media space because you’ll get a whole bunch of angry fans. You know, they’ll be tweeting and Facebooking, ‘Why’s he leaving?’ And then you’ve got all the, I guess, the other ramifications, if you can’t, the Storm for one can’t say, ’Oh, it’s because of the salary cap,’ because then they’ll get blowed back for other issues in their history.

KELLY: Past problems, yes.

SEAN: Past problems and you know and it’s their role and big ups to Daniel Pinne who runs the digital beyond the scenes of the Storm. Our plan was if Cooper Cronk was going to go, he was going to actually reply and pat each fan on the back and soothe their pain because they have to look back and say, ‘Look at what Cooper’s done. We’ve got still six months more of him.’ We’ve got that focus to try to turn them around a little bit, so we really sort of put a crisis plan in place.

FRANK: Are you amazed Kel that they didn’t know?

KELLY: I can’t believe that.

SEAN: So this is 24 hours out .

KELLY: So Cooper called the club and said can you issue a statement saying that I’ll make my decision public tomorrow?

SEAN: Well, yes, he was still making his decision, but he said I’m going to make a decision. Let’s have the press conference, and, obviously, with this information age, you have to protect that information, so there was only a select few that did know. So the people negotiating the contract in the footy department and the commercials team, that kind of thing, but the broader team didn’t know, and they were planning for all the scenarios. And then about an hour out of the thing the wider team knew so they prepped an email to go out to the members in a simultaneous fashion when the conference started. So as soon as Cooper said, “I’m good to go,” the email went out, so all the Storm fans got it, sort of, at the same time as everyone else was. But, yeah, the digital team was like, you know, ‘Dan was told at that same time, so get ready. Don’t print the press conference,’ but as soon as Cooper says, ‘I’m staying,’ get that tweet out. I said get that tweet out, get the hashtag: more cronk. Because Cooper Cronk’s not on Twitter and it’s a great hashtag, so automatically, all the fans were tweeting #morecronk both Cooper Cronk and #morecronk were like number one and two trending on Twitter.

FRANK: Well that’s how I found out about it.

SEAN: Yeah, and so what you know, the news, which is amazing considering the AFL was launching that night.

KELLY: Was day one by ___.

SEAN: To have that much voice of, you know, from about 11:00 to 3:00 to be all about the NRL. It was a really a great job by the Storm, but, yeah, it just shows you the different scenarios, and it would’ve been a real tough gig ahead had he come in and said, ‘I’m going to Gold Coast,’ but you’ve got to manage and/or plan for those scenarios.

KELLY: I guess from a journalist’s perspective you always try to read into these things, the fact they released a statement the day before and said the announcement’s happening at the club a day before a big home game against New Castle and the fact that Cooper himself was speaking. You read into that and think well if he was leaving he’s not going to do it at the club the day before a big game because of the ramifications in those 24 hours.

SEAN: Yeah, and that’s the thing. They had a lot of chatter 24 hours out of people saying, ‘Oh,’ the initial chatter was, ‘He’s going; he’s going,’ and then the tide turned and everyone goes, ‘They had started doing the reasoning,’ but sometimes everyone over analyzes it a bit because, again, I think a lot of it was driven by Cooper. He said I want to make the announcement and the club went, “Well, yep, you’re one of the big three. If you want to announce it then you can.’ And he was like, ‘I want to send it out now,’ and they’re like ‘no, no’ let us have a press conference and…

FRANK: So it’s about making the maximum impact with the message, as well, and making sure that you’ve covered all bases, which is something that’ sport’s organizations have to do. They probably wouldn’t do as well with their Scott Pendlebury announcements.

SEAN: So Collingwood is, I guess, has gone down the path of their own club TV show, and the week before they broke the news of Sharrod Wellingham’s suspension on that show and didn’t give any warning or anything. This week with the signing of Scott Pendlebury they went down a similar path but they didn’t exclusively break it on the show, so I got an email as a Collingwood member at, I think it was 8:30, saying Pendlebury resigned, so all the members knew first and that’s a real thing for all the clubs to say, ‘Well, if you’re going to pay money and be a member we want you to know first.’ Both the NRL and AFL clubs are really mindful of their members first.

FRANK: It’s interesting that’s going on about the access to information because the AFL increasingly is trying to limit access to information. And one of example of that Sean and Kelly is access to tenures.

KELLY: Absolutely.

FRANK: And the digital media space would usually reveal the tenures first. Over the last couple of years, Twitter has been the place to go if you want to know who’s going to be in an ___.

SEAN: Well, in the last couple of years, everyone’s sort of been anointed. Patrick Keane would launch the team news on his own Twitter cap before all the clubs, in some instances. they’re like holding off, holding off, and then they’d find out that Patrick came from the AFL’s twitter. Here’s the ins and outs. So it’s a lot of clubs getting their nose out of joint for that, but, yeah, now there’s an exclusive rights with a TV partner to do it on the news, which is, you know, so 20 years ago.

KELLY: Well, it’s the media partners, isn’t it? So it’s the AFL website and Network 7, and so the embargo is until 6:00. So when you actually go out and speak to coaches, and coaches and players have been warned, there is a $10,000 fine if you leak any information, so as journalists working for another broadcaster you head out on a Thursday to interview the coaches.
Three coaches spoke on Thursday: Alastair Clarkson, Scott Watters and Nathan Buckley. They were all asked, on separate occasions, will you have a first game? Or will there be a debutante that we can talk about? And all of them said, “that information is embargoed until 6:00; therefore, we can’t say anything.’
How ridiculous when you’re inviting media out and journalists to come and get some information and speak about something, and I guess the same situation, or it was at Nathan Buckley’s, and we were out, and Trevor’s cloak was standing next to him. We wanted to ask about the contract, and the senior coach stepped in to Nathan Buckley and said, ‘No more question about the contract.’
So from a journalist’s perspective, obviously, we try and you leave a media conference where they have invited you down but you can’t get any information about the team and you can’t get any information about the contract, what’s left to ask?

FRANK: Well, Sean, you’re absolutely right. I mean it’s a sort of old world mentality, particularly in the age of digital media to try to hang onto that sort of information, particularly as digital media has now invited everybody to be part of the conversation.

SEAN: Well, that’s right. I mean and talking about the Pendlebury case, the A-mile and then both Scott tweeted and Facebook did and then the club tweeted, it actually got people to watch the TV, and I think that’s a much better strategy to say, you know, ‘Hey, guys, Scott Pendlebury is actually going to be on the show to hear him talk about it’—‘Aww, cool!’
Potentially I might not have tuned in. I’m going to tune in now. I’d as soon as use it in that fashion, but to use it in a fashion of, ‘Oh, we’re holding on to this information because this exclusive Channel 7 is going to do it on the news.’

FRANK: Well, to try to make money out of it, basically….

KELLY: Absolutely, it’s all about money, yeah.

FRANK: The information that should belong to the fans who pay their membership to whomever is playing for their team is now being held hostage for a couple of hours so that they can make money from the commercial/television partner. That stinks.

KELLY: It does. It’s disgraceful. And I wonder whether it’ll all continue because there will be a bit of an uproar at some stage because other media partners are not going to be happy with it.

FRANK: The coaches are going to end up looking like fools. They can’t answer question that they have a legitimate right to answer.

KELLY: And I think the coaches are well aware of that, and therefore they were making a stand by saying, ‘it’s embargoed; you can’t ask me. We’re making a point but we can’t tell you.’

SEAN: But it might also be kind of a little bit fiscal. If the NRL released their team list on a Tuesday and you know why—so Rugby League Week can get them into a printed version earlier in the week.

KELLY: People are talking about it already.

SEAN: And I think it was Matt McGuire from the Rabbitohs, who asked ‘Where are the team lists. You guys we just played yesterday.’ And they go, ‘Yeah, but, we’re going to have it by Tuesday. He goes, ‘Here you go have last weeks and put it up.’ So, you know, he pretty much didn’t really care what the list was, so you might just start getting the sort of just serving it for the purpose of serving it.

KELLY: One thing I noticed this week, Deledio announcing a five year contract extension, with a contract extension of five years, and Pendlebury, you’ve already mentioned, they all announced this on Twitter. If you’re the Richmond football club, what’s your biggest, most positive news story going to be for season 2012—that your best player has signed for five years. Why are they adopting to take the Twitter path as opposed to hold a media conference and get everyone there and get the coverage across everywhere? This is something that I don’t understand.

SEAN: I mean it isn’t more about getting the eyeballs, the digital eyeballs, back to the site. It’s also a bit of the players taking ownership of their persona, you know, against some would tweet it and then the next day the media were all over it. And, so again, that’s a little bit of the players putting themselves out in front of the club a little bit, but yeah, it is a tough one from a traditional media point of view. They sort of have the opinion ‘Oh, well, the traditional media will still come anyway. The TV and radio we’ll report it the next day. The digital is now and allows us to control it. Bring it in house.

FRANK: That’s the way it works in the moment now. Have you got a podium for us, 3, 2 and 1 this week?

SEAN: Yeah, well we had ad-tech this week in Melbourne so it was the Melbourne edition, and so the medals this week, we have a bronze to Anthony Harrison who talked about the Stars and how they built a brand for the new Big Bash team. Jonathan Simpson from the AFL, he talked about some of this media and some interesting social media policies, and I think it’s fit for radio but he pretty much said his social media policy is “don’t be a ___________(and you can fill in the blank there), for a social media policy it’s a really good one. But the gold medal goes to Kim Trengove who runs all the digital at the Aussie Open and they’ve just done an amazing job from a mobile perspective, engaging the fans from a social media point of view.

FRANK: They’re fun. That was fantastic.

SEAN: The iPhone app, the iPad app, all the things that, you know, the amazing part that should have been done with YouTube and things like that and the amount of viewers they’re getting through that. Both the other guys said, “I wished you’d just sit down and let Kim talk for the 40 minutes.”

She’s got so much stuff. She had videos of Roger Federer so Debby Spillane would’ve been very happy with that, so it was a really good discussion and we had a really good discussion after the panel as well, so…

FRANK: Good day, Sean. Thanks for coming in, and in that time nothing dramatic happened in the cricket.

SEAN: Well, I tweeted Brett Lee to stop doing it, so that’s cool. He’ll help me out there.

FRANK: Sean Callanan our Digital Media Guru when it comes to the world of sports.