The New York Yankees have won more World Series championships than any other baseball franchise in history.
But that’s no guarantee of media success, especially because the “Bronx Bombers” play in arguably the world’s most challenging media market. Anyone who’s glanced at the front cover of the New York Post or New York Daily News knows just how cruel the New York press corps can be.
It turns out that the Yankees have reacted to intensity of the media spotlight in exactly the right way. According to Paul White of USA Today, the Yankees might just have the best media training program in baseball.
“No team in baseball gets more attention and scrutiny. And no team goes to greater lengths to make sure its players are prepared to deal with the media and avoid the trouble that can accompany their positions with one of the most-followed sports franchises in the world.
‘We want to be the guardrail at the top of the cliff,’ says general manager Brian Cashman of his team’s media training program. ‘Rather than the ambulance at the bottom.’
He mandates the first act of spring training every year for Yankees players is watching a 25-minute video as part of their media training. They also receive a four-page handout, which includes advice from journalists and former Yankees, plenty of examples of how not to deal with the media and photos of all the journalists who regularly cover the team.”
Mr. White’s terrific article included (at least) four additional points worthy of mention:
1. Stay In Your Lane: In the handout, pitcher Andy Pettitte offers players this advice: “To save yourself a little grief and a headache, stick to baseball.” That squares with advice I’ve often given on this blog for spokespersons to “stay in their lanes.” If you speak about controversial issues, you’re going to create a distraction similar to the one Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas sparked earlier this year, or that Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen recently caused when he spoke about his affection for Fidel Castro.
2. Twitter Doesn’t Kill People, Tweeters Do: Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher says in the Yankees training video that: “Twitter is like having a gun. If you take care of it, you’re OK. But you can shoot yourself.” That’s good advice, as everyone from Anthony Weiner and Gilbert Gottfried to Chris Brown and Roland Martin have learned the hard way.
3. Remember Your Audience: Former pitcher Mike Mussina says in the handout that he “didn’t adjust very well at the beginning. It doesn’t say in your contract that you have to be hospitable to the media, but they’re the ones that communicate with the millions of fans on a daily basis.” Mussina eventually learned how to interact well with the press, even becoming a media favorite. He learned something I discuss on this blog a lot: that reporters aren’t the audience – the audience is the audience.
4. Don’t Leave Loose Ends: Finally, the handout dispensed one final phrase of wisdom that represents a perfect ending to this post: “That which is not resolved today will find you tomorrow.”
A grateful h/t to Dave Statter. Nick Swisher photo credit: Keith Allison.
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