Being a good footballer is no longer enough to be noticed. The ever-increasing impact of the media forces players to control their communication. To help them in this aspect of their profession, media training has become an important element. Whether through training or daily monitoring, players have tools available.
He is only 17 years old but this year he stands out as an promising element in the midfield of FC Barcelona. The young Ansu Fati, whose talent seems to promise him a great career. In the field, he displays serenity and a remarkable strength of character for his age. Except that the job of a professional footballer is no longer limited to the field. In an invisible preparation, young players need to understand and work on a new range of elements. Communication has thus become a major issue over the years, which has generated the creation of a new position in clubs: the media training.
The goal was to give young professional players, between the ages of 16 and 25, the basics of communication. From answering the interviews, to speak correctly, to manage complicated and tendentious questions, and to know how to answer all that. We realized that the players are confronted with journalists that are more and more investigators, without proper preparation. The media training gives them this knowledge.
Learning the right way of communication
To help young players, faced with a much more aggressive media coverage than 10 years ago, clubs are hiring media training companies. Then, the training take place. There is a theory part, where the players will be shown videos, and a scenario. Then, they explain to the players the goals of journalist, how they work, using a database of interviews.
More than a course, the objective is therefore to create an exchange with young players, who are aware of the impact of the image on their career. However, this is not the case when dealing with the issue of media relations through player agents. Because calling on a professional in the field to help players is not only the prerogative of clubs. Officers can also advise some of their foals to train in the specific area of communication. Where 30-something players have learned on the job over the course of their careers, young players today can afford to work upstream.
A good media training can save a carreer
The need to stick to its time, to know its codes and to meet expectations has prompted former press professionals to propose, through a global management of the player’s image, a new form of media training. The idea is to help them formulate their speech, whether in a press conference, in an interview or in a mixed zone. Give them elements of language, so that the comments are not distorted later, with clear and structured sentences, so that it does not harm communication. Some players feel the need for help.
Beyond the purely technical assistance, it is also a question of briefing the player before an interview with the media, whatever the type (mixed zone, press conference, interview), and the debriefing. The perverse side is feared: do we not sanitize even more a discourse which is, basic, often mocked for its redundancy? Difficulties for some players in speaking with a flock of cameras can cause the player to slip away. For players, the most important thing today is social media. The rest is secondary. And then it must also be said that most of the players are stingy.
Suddenly, media training is included in a service that offers social media management and sometimes sponsorship. The player benefits from daily help and has the feeling of better understanding his meetings in front of the press. The objective is really not to sanitize the speech, the player must remain interesting, the speech must be well interpreted. The objective is to communicate rewarding elements. And not to rob the club, teammates, those around them, the supporters. Which foreshadows a long life in media training.