The art of storytelling: why preparation, responsibility and strong relationships are key

Having a thorough understanding of your target audience, and using that to build a relationship which is not solely transactional, is fundamental when it comes to the art and science of storytelling to the media.

During the second episode of the SBC Americas and HPL Digital Sport webinar series, Reach & Retain Dynamic Marketing for the Long Game, discussions focused on the ways in which reporting, insights and news coverage is important to building a brand’s image.

According to Patrick Eichner, Director of Communications at PointsBet, one of the key things to consider is preparation – ensuring that you establish yourself as a leading resource prior to a state going live.

He explained: “I’ve said this a couple times, but positioning yourself as a resource ahead of time and trying to establish that relationship – one where you’re just reaching out and not necessarily having to ask for something in return. 

“It needs to be a relationship where you can reach out to folks and let them know that this sports betting data analysis is not going anywhere and that it’s something they can use to their advantage come next football season, or whenever that state goes live. 

“I think preparation is absolutely key, and trying to establish those relationships ahead of time, not on the day of when a state launches sports betting. You need to reach out to people and say ‘look, here’s our origin story, look at how far we’ve come, it would be fantastic if you covered it’. Show people what’s under the hood and the people behind the scenes that are making these operations go.”

Eichner was joined on the webinar by Michael Adorno, VP of Communications at HPL Digital Sport, David Purdum, Gambling Industry Reporter at ESPN and Sue Schneider, VP Growth and Strategy for Americas at SBC

His point was echoed by Adorno, who turned the focus towards the need to avoid building ‘transactional’ relationships, noting that publicists must ‘manage expectations’.

He added: “I couldn’t agree more, I definitely think that preparation, understanding who the reporter is and who they reach what they write about is of the utmost importance. Reporters also need to try to build relationships which are not transactional. 

“I think a lot of publicists try to push too hard. They go into reporting saying ‘this is what I have, this is what I need you to write about’. If a lot of people miss that, it’s not transactional, it’s building relationships. People should be going to report and manage expectations.” 

But for Purdum, he believes that sports betting reporters must be ‘conservative’ and ‘responsible when it comes to posting stories online.

Making reference to an instance in 2015, he reflected on how you can ‘really tell who are the new people to this industry’ – warning that irresponsibility can lead to a ‘huge backlash’. 

He said: “I would just add that you can really tell who are the new people to this industry, when they’re trying to put news out on social media and they haven’t covered it. Maybe they think it’s still funny to joke about a game being fixed, or their child placing a bet or things like that. But once you’ve done this job for long enough, you know that these things just aren’t responsible. And that’s what I hope people get. 

“If we are not responsible, and we are growing this new market and pushing things that are inappropriate, there’s going to be backlash. I go back to 2015. When there was an actual bombardment of daily fantasy ads, you would see back to back adverts for DraftKings and FanDuel during the breaks of an NFL game and there was a huge backlash to that. There were Attorney General investigations, and they ended up having to pay a huge fine for false advertising claims. 

“As crazy as it is for a sports betting writer at ESPN to say, I just want people to take a deep breath, be conservative with our news as we push this forward and most of all, be responsible.”

Click here to watch the full webinar.