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Interview request rejected by team. What's next?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DS_Writer, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. DS_Writer

    DS_Writer New Member

    I will be as vague as possible, but involves a professional sports team.

    For more than a year, I've made requests to do a feature story about a player who is from this area because of the ties to our local community. I've never put a specific issue date in mind and even telling them it can be done either over the phone or via e-mail exchange.

    There were talks at one point a year ago where they asked if I would meet them at one of the team's road games in a town about 2-3 hours from our office. That fell through when they couldn't confirm if we would be able to get credentials to the game for us to get photographs.

    Now, I'm told that there is no interest in doing the story at this time. I do follow up with asking when a good time would be; no response.

    I've never had problems like this with other professional teams in other leagues. I spoke with one person the other day and his recommendation was to go to the league's media relations department. Not sure if that's a good idea. Considering there are likely people on this board with more experience, how would you handle trying to get a feature story done with a team staff that's not cooperating?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I'm confused. Are you not making the request through the team's media relations department?
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's going to happen. If you really, REALLY need the story, you're best off going through family members if you know them. The league isn't going to step in and overrule the team.

    Since I'm a huge cynic about professional athletes, I'm going to guess this guy is dancing around an arrest warrant or a paternity suit or something that's causing him to want to stay as far out of the public eye as possible.
    SnarkShark and Tweener like this.
  4. DS_Writer

    DS_Writer New Member

    Yes. Sorry. Multiple requests that began a year ago. At first, they liked the idea, but never followed through on a time to do a phone interview or how we could meet when they were closer to the area for a road game. Nothing now, with just rejections in 10 words or less and no response when I ask when would be a good time.
  5. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Find out who the player's agent is, and contact him or her instead. If the player is a pending free agent or in contract negotiations, then that could be a reason why the team isn't eager to let you interview him, but the agent might be interested.
  6. DS_Writer

    DS_Writer New Member

    Not in a contract year, but there have been rumors of a trade. Maybe I'll have better luck if the player gets traded. (Leans back and twiddles thumbs).
  7. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    Should have other avenues to get in touch with the player. Relatives? Former coaches? Why couldn't you get credentials to the game?
    sgreenwell likes this.
  8. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    Yeah, if his parents and/or high school coach is still in town give them a try.
  9. BrendaStarr

    BrendaStarr Member

    If this professional player has ties to your community that means your paper/company probably covered him when he was younger and a star in high school so shouldn't you have a way to get a hold of him through him through family/friends? Honestly, your best bet is to contact his former high school who likely has his number and can give it to you.

    I'm not that surprised the team's media relations department hasn't been a huge help based on my experience covering pro teams. Especially if the sport this guy plays is currently out of season, they're not going to try and track players down for you during the offseason. And unless your paper/company covers that pro sports team regularly, it's unlikely they will going go out of their way to help someone they've never met and probably will never meet for an audience that's not in their market. It sucks, but it's true.
    PaperClip529 likes this.
  10. Flip Wilson

    Flip Wilson Well-Known Member

    I know mine was a one-shot deal and I don't deal with pro team PR people on any regular basis at all, but I needed to interview an NBA player for a feature for his college alumni magazine. His team was playing about three hours from here, and I emailed the PR folks from both teams -- the host team and the team this guy plays for -- and they couldn't have been more helpful.
  11. BrendaStarr

    BrendaStarr Member

    There's also a big difference between someone writing a story that will appear in a player's college alumni magazine and the positive impact that could have for an NBA team and a random, perhaps smaller, publication that the OP alluded he was writing for.

    And obviously, every league/pro team is different when it comes to the PR staff. There are good ones and bad ones. Always good to hear about positive experiences!
  12. ringer

    ringer Active Member

    Wait - you've been making the same request for "more than a year?" I'm not sure it's the team's problem. It's fine to be flexible at first, but if they keep you in limbo for longer than a month and you never take the reins and give them a clear time hook or deadline, then it's never going to be a priority for the team. It's far too loosey-goosey. Also, "more than a year" would include the player's off-season, so you've had ample time to make it happen - with or without the team's help. It's possible that they just don't want to deal with this request anymore.

    Next time, stop asking "when would it be convenient?" and tell them when you would want/need it. If they can't (or won't) do it during that window, then you have to go to plan B. If the guy's local, then -- like the posts above said -- you should be able to come up with a workable plan C, D, E, and F.

    Second problem: when the opportunity arose at the road game --you say the team couldn't guarantee your credential. But if they're on the road, it's not their responsibility. You'd have to arrange it with the home team. At least in my experience. Sounds like you never tried.

    Ultimately, I hope you finally reach the athlete and that your story turns out to be amazing.
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