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Honesty the best policy with increasingly tedious media relations

THE game of Gaelic football may have changed dramatically over the past decade but problems concerning communicating with local and national media are not part of that transformation.

There has, of course, been a proliferation in media outlets be they print, broadcast or on-line but the relationships continue, for the most part, to be a little tense.

During a mundane club season in the early 80s - and following on from a less than complimentary, but most likely accurate, match report by a local hack on our performance in a tournament game - he was noticed readying himself for the next league game. Whereupon said hack got an express order to tidy his stuff up and get to hell out of the ground!

Little has changed and it appears the opportunity to lay the ground for a siege mentality based on a real or perceived insult from the Fourth Estate is never far from the agenda of a team manager.

So, last weekend's interview with Paul Grimley (pictured, left) on the fine detail surrounding the Armagh camp media ban was interesting but hardly riveting.

As usual, both sides could argue the rights and wrongs of the various incidents and there are plenty of grey areas that the protagonists can exploit in defence of their stance.

But, as I said, hardly riveting stuff. One aspect that surprised me was that journalists had his mobile number.

The idea that a senior manager gave that 
sort of access to members of the media was always likely to lead to problems if and when the team struggled or were involved in controversy.

interviews

As ever, Dublin appear to be ahead of the game with a media manager acting as the conduit through which the information and requests for interviews must flow. At a minimum there is one degree of separation and that is good practice.

The organisation of press conferences or big-match launches by sponsors before the championship games has become such a staged and cliché-strewn festival, the surprise is members of the media, especially the print guys, actually bother to attend. Recently I read where the strength-and-conditioning coach was at the top table facing the media. Who/what next? The kit man? The physio? The bus driver?

As with all these matters, there is a way to manage relationships with external parties and an absence of ego certainly helps. And to avoid the nonsense that eventually trips you up, why not give an honest appraisal of your situation for a change?

It is the best policy in the long run where people respect you for not taking them to be absolute fools.


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