Monday, June 24, 2024

Club File: How Witney raised hockey’s media coverage in Oxfordshire

Ben Saunders is an assistant sports editor at i newspaper and has produced Witney HC match reports for local media in Oxfordshire. Here, he reveals how the club went about it in 2022/23 season

We were in a good starting position, as it was the first season Witney women spent in the second tier of English hockey in their history, after four promotions in six seasons, and the Oxford Mail recognised it as a historic season for the club. It definitely helps to have someone dedicated to it, but some of the players do a great job with social media, which is definitely more of a young person’s game! 

We talked to the Oxford Mail sports editor before and they gave us a guideline of what they’d like, how many words they wanted and their deadlines. We were also able to get some really good pics from volunteers as well, which is always helpful. 

Found that we got more coverage when we got quotes and positive reports. Had a great preview on the back page of Witney Gazette to start the season and a wonderful interview with Susannah Townsend, after we beat her Canterbury side. As an Olympic gold medallist, she provides a name and a cachet that will register with local sports editors and she spoke so well and so complimentary about our players.

It really epitomised the sportsmanship in hockey. We also had a nice piece with Mel Clewlow, who was very complimentary about one of our young players, Chaselea Gatt, who scored a really nice drag flick against Canterbury. So any connections with internationals are really good.

As well as forming a relationship with the Oxford Mail, we also sent reports to local radio and The Hockey Paper and that resulted in our captain, Katie Gatt, appearing on BBC Radio Oxford‘s Friday night sports show.

So advice would be write a concise report, with result and goalscorers high up, run of play and a good quote or two.

And don’t forget to tack on where you are in the table and who, when and where you are playing next time.

Witney’s sunny Wallis in action PIC: BEN YATES

And don’t be upset if you don’t get anything in one particular day or week. It happens, but if you are consistent and file good stuff, any decent sports editor worth their salt will try and accommodate you. 

We’ve done pretty well, but haven’t had stuff in every week, but that can happen, especially if you are in an area with a men’s professional football team!

And the dirty, little secret to getting more coverage is winning! The more you win, the more chance you have getting in. Also, if you do have players who get international call-ups for any age group or any country, let the local media know and speak to the player about it. 

And players love it as well and if you want to volunteer they really do appreciate the support.

Do you have a feature or story idea? Send your news. Get in touch!

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