Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Do You Want?

What do you want from these people?

That's an actual question, by the way. And by "these people," TigerBlog means those in the Office of Athletic Communications.

He'll get back to that in a few minutes. First, he'd like to give you a sense of how it's been going in the Office of Athletic Communications during the crossover of the fall and winter seasons.

It started a few weeks ago.

Kristy McNeil is the sport contact for men's and women's hockey. And she's the contact for men's soccer.

So go back to Halloween, which was a Saturday. Because the men's hockey team played in Trenton at the same time the men's soccer team was home against Cornell, then Andrew Borders had to cover men's soccer for Kristy. Andrew covers the women's team, and it was a doubleheader.

Then, the next weekend, Kristy was on the road with men's hockey at Cornell and Colgate, so Andrew had to cover women's hockey at Baker Rink. And this past weekend, Andrew again did the soccer doubleheader, because Kristy covered three hockey games at Baker, including a women's/men's doubleheader last Saturday.

Kristy made it up to Andrew by covering women's basketball for Ben Badua Sunday, because Ben was at Syracuse for the NCAA field hockey quarterfinals. Bed, the women's basketball contact, covered Friday night's opener and then drove up to Syracuse Saturday morning, to see Princeton defeat Maryland.

Had the Tigers lost that game, Ben would have turned around and driven back for the women's basketball game Sunday. Instead, Kristy was pressed into service.

There has been a certain amount of luck in getting all of the events covered of late.

For instance, the women's soccer team was home Saturday night, instead of, say, away Friday. Had the Tigers played Friday - even at home - then Andrew wouldn't have been able to be at Rider for the opening night of the men's basketball season.

And the field hockey team wasn't sent to North Carolina, which meant Ben could be at the women's basketball opener.

And then there's Craig Sachson. Craig is the football and volleyball contact (among a bunch of other sports).

Because the women's volleyball team made its great run to share the Ivy League championship with Harvard, there will be a one-game playoff for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Because of the tiebreaking rules (TigerBlog heard that it has to do with how Princeton and Harvard did against Dartmouth), the match will be at Harvard. And where is Princeton playing football Saturday?

At Dartmouth. So Craig will drive to Harvard, watch volleyball and then drive to Dartmouth.

Had the volleyball been here, or playing Saturday afternoon, then Craig would have had a struggle to do both. Now, he'll be able to be where he needs to be, on both occasions.

TigerBlog can tell you that in all the time he's been here, there's never been an event, not one single event, that has gone uncovered. He long ago lost track of how many times he's covered for someone else or had someone cover for him. It's just how it goes around here.

Anyway, why did TigerBlog tell you all that? One, he'd like to publicly commend Craig, Kristy, Ben and Andrew for all that they do all the time, but especially during the crossover time.

And second, because it leads into his original question. What do you want from these people?

His point is, what content is it that Princeton's fans want to see, and it what way do they want it presented? Social media? Stories? Videos? What?

TigerBlog has been having a series of conversations with the OAC staff, including video dudes Cody Chrusciel and John Bullis, about the future of athletic communications.

Other than the people who have worked here through the years (and going way back before TigerBlog was here), the best part of Princeton Athletic Communications has been its willingness to evolve.

To do so, though, the OAC people have to be willing to ask themselves tough questions.

What has value? What doesn't? What is the target audience? In what way does that target audience want to receive content?

More than anything else, the question of "what is done well but doesn't move the needle" has to be asked. It's not an easy question to ask, and the answers aren't always easy to find.

For starters, there's no tangible way to measure this.

Suppose there is a video on that is viewed by 32 people. Is that worth doing? Depends who the 32 people are. What if they're a combination of top recruits, current athletes and members of the Friends' group for that sport? And suppose they all love it, and the video makes them feel more connected to the team and the department?

Then it's worth it. Actually, it's way more worth it than something viewed by 132 people that have no reaction to it.

And postgame stories? What do you want there? Do people still read postgame stories? What about pregame? How should the OAC balance the needs of the media with those of the target audiences?

Wow. So many questions.

There aren't right and wrong answers either. Or metrics to completely answer those questions. Just best guesses, and the hope that the needs of the audience are being met.

The OAC staff is a great one. That's something TigerBlog doesn't have to worry about at all.

The question remains the same though.

What do you want from them?


Anonymous said...

To give you some feedback on your question of how the reader feels, I am a longtime Princeton U. alumnus and sports fan(atic). My father was also a great fan going back to his Princeton days in the 1920's. I also attend many Princeton U. sports events. I spend at least a few minutes or more up to an hour every day reading the Princeton sports website. I would not change anything about the website and how it reports Princeton sports events. If I can not attend an event I am interested in, I often follow the event on Live Stats.
The one place I feel there could be improvement is with the Princeton football team programs. The programs should have the Ivy League football standings which the programs used to have. The programs should also go back to printing the referee penalty signals. Also, the programs should print the schedules with results of the other Princeton fall sport teams. These schedules used to be in the programs so that the programs were truly informative. The programs are filled with pages and pages of ads so I am sure there is room for information that I mentioned that used to be in the programs.

Glenn Adams '63 said...

Also an alum and fan(atic) of ALL Tiger sports teams. I read just about every story on the Tiger sports website and watch (either live or on replay) at least all the games on the Ivy League Digital Network that have a key bearing on potential Ivy titles for Tiger teams or NCAA qualification. I also view many videos and some podcasts,and read all TigerBlog pieces.
Overall your OAC coverage is fantastic. Both crew and fencing (men and women) deserve more coverage than they get I think, especially since Princeton is usually a National power in these two sports, for both men and women.
I hope that you continue to place emphasis on website stories first and videos second. Please don't switch emphasis to social media, since I think most of us want to go to one place for info on Tiger sports. I find post-game write-ups more interesting than pre-game write-ups. The more detail in the post-game write-ups the better. If anything your pre-match write-ups contain more info than necessary. The most important pre-game info by far would be info about injuries preventing athletes from playing. The website maddeningly typically omits mention of injured players, whether in pre-game or post-game write-ups. Lineup changes in general is the 2nd topic of most pre-game interest. The write-ups should be geared to Tiger fans.
The videos are fun to watch, especially if they include more than one player and also include a coach. Please ensure that the person talking is identified. The podcasts are great even if long. The TigerBlog pieces that don't stray too far from Tiger sports are the best ones, although comments about other college or pro sports are fun too.
The TV coverage of games has gotten better and better. Only thing to stress is that all sports should maintain clock time remaining and the overall score on the screen at all times.
Will the women's soccer NCAA game on Friday at UVA against USC be covered by live video on UVA's sports website and if so without a subscription?
How unfair it is for the women's volleyball team to have to play the Ivy playoff game at Harvard, instead of on a neutral court. Basketball playoffs are always on a neutral court, so why not volleyball? With the crowd so close to the court, any sport played indoors gives a huge advantage to the home team. This is not a fair way to decide which team goes to the NCAA's at all, as evidenced by Harvard's having won against the Tigers in straight sets at home and vice-versa when Princeton got to play Harvard at home. The following lines in the volleyball pre-game write-up makes it very clear how unfair it is not to play on a neutral court:
"Princeton is seeking its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2007, though it would have to come at a site where the Tigers haven't won a single set since 2012.
Princeton holds a 49-13 all-time lead in this series, but the Crimson have won three straight over the Tigers at Malkin. The last time the Tigers won there was Sept. 28, 2012." Thanks for soliciting our views on OAC coverage. Glenn Adams '63

Anonymous said...

OAC staff is outstanding; the volume and quality of work are amazing.
In the weekly football game notes, including the list of starters in each game to date by position would be a useful restoration. That one graphic, unfortunately, this year tells a very important tale about this football season.

I think Jerry's posts here are great, so I don't want this misinterpreted. But I would at least experiment with having a guest blogger each week or every other week just for additional perspectives/variety and to give Jerry a break.