As many of you know, I started the Behind the Keyboard series as an opportunity for you and I to get to know some of the influential voices and personalities in the sports blogosphere. We kicked it off a few months back by profiling Barry McBride of the Orange and Brown Report and then last week we interviewed Sarah Spain of Mouthpiece Sports.
Today, Behind the Keyboard is highlighting an individual who is actually not a blogger at all (at least not that I know of, but you never know who is lurking in the dark shadows of their parents’ basement…) but who still has the ability to influence the sports blogosphere on a daily basis. That individual is Hannah Patrick, a Media Analyst with Sports Media Challenge.
If you are an avid viewer of the 10:00 am SportsCenter, you may have noticed a new feature that popped up a few months back called Blog Buzz. The goal of this feature is to highlight the five most important and talked about sports stories, as seen by the sports blogging community. As you will find out from the interview below, Hannah is the point person for submitting the editorial content for the daily Blog Buzz feature. This is actually how she and I were first “introduced” — when she emailed to alert me to MSF’s first appearance on Blog Buzz, back when we wrote about Mike Brown being named NBA Coach of the Year.
Because I am at the office when Blog Buzz runs on ESPN, I have never actually viewed the segment myself. (I did, however, receive many calls from friends who were watching when MSF was on there.) And while I think all sports bloggers like the general idea of Blog Buzz, it was met with some criticism upon its initial launch (for examples, here and here).
One of the main reasons I contacted Hannah about participating in this interview was to give her and Sports Media Challenge an opportunity to discuss their objectives with Blog Buzz as well as to get her unique perspective, as someone in the middle, on where the blogger-mainstream media relationship is headed.
I am sure that many other sports bloggers know Hannah from being contacted about Blog Buzz and her effective use of Twitter to network, as well as the recent Blogs With Balls conference that she attended (and that I wish I had too!). Hopefully this interview will allow you to get to know her even better, as well as understand the objectives behind Blog Buzz and some of the ways that Sports Media Challenge continues to be a pioneer in the merging of sports and online media.
My sincere appreciation goes out to Hannah for her diligence in completing this interview, which we conducted over email. As usual, a few quick background notes first and then we jump right into the interview.
Hannah Patrick Background Info:
- Education/College: East Carolina (Arrrghh!) with degree in Communications
- Current Company and Position: Media Analyst with Sports Media Challenge
- Favorite sport: I grew up loving baseball. But in recent years football has become my favorite.
- Favorite teams: Panthers, Bobcats, Hurricanes, and all ECU Sports
- Favorite athletes: Jake â€œDay light come and I wannaâ€ Delhomme, keeping it local. We are both originally from Cajun country and ended up in the Carolinas. Plus, he has persevered and accomplished a lot regardless of all the scrutiny around him.
- Twitter: @mhannahp
Hannah Patrick Behind the Keyboard Interview:
Jerod: If you would, provide our readers with a quick background on Sports Media Challenge, how you got involved with them, and what you do as PR coordinator.
Hannah Patrick: Sports Media Challenge is a brand monitoring, marketing, and PR consulting company specializing in sports and entertainment clients. I got involved with SMC through networking while dominating in a kickball league. We were named “Balls of Fury” (pictured left, click for larger view) and were champions in Spring â€™08.
As media analyst my responsibilities include monitoring our clientâ€™s reputations online. Currently, my responsibilities have shifted to leading SMCâ€™s efforts with SportsCenterâ€™s Blog Buzz, which means I am in charge of the editorial content that is submitted on a daily basis.
Jerod: How did the idea for Blog Buzz come about? Was it initiated by SMC or ESPN? How has the response been from fans, bloggers, and the Worldwide Leader?
Hannah Patrick: SMC used to do a section for the â€œSports Business Dailyâ€ called Blog Hound. It was based on the same premise, where we submitted to them the top five most popular blog topics on a daily basis. ESPN came to SMC looking for a similar concept, thus Blog Buzz was born.
The response, other than the initial launch, has been mostly positive. We have seen both sides though: bloggers that are totally stoked to see their hard work on SportsCenter and others that just donâ€™t see the value. In the end, our goal is to connect one of the worldâ€™s largest sports entities to some of the most intelligent, informed and passionate sports fans and writers.
Jerod: What other Blog Buzz-like initiatives is SMC planning for the future?
Hannah Patrick: In the immediate future we would like to see the segment in other SportsCenter show times, like the 6:00 pm hour for instance. We would also like to start doing an in-depth analysis one day of the week, where we give several different blogger perspectives.
Jerod: Time for a random question. If you had to bet your last $10 on a fight-to-the-death cagematch between me, John Gonzalez, and Ken Rosenthal, who are you picking?
Hannah Patrick: Definitely you. But you are going to need some sort of super power first. Likeâ€¦ the ability to walk through cages.
I polled the office on this question as well. Results were pretty entertaining and are as follows:
- â€œKen Rosenthal would win because he is backed by the traditional media and he would squash Jerod with his huge budget.â€ @ryanstephens
- â€œKen Rosenthal because he came on screen like the Hebrew Hammer or the Jewish Juggernaut. But no matter whatâ€¦ Buzz Bissinger would beat all of them.â€ @jakerosen
- â€œKimbo Slice.â€ @jackieadkins
- â€œJerod being a blogger wears underwear like cage fighters. So I am going to go with Jerod.â€ @matthewgarner
- â€œI would go with the guy asking you the question.â€ @brittanylane
[Editor's Note: While I appreciate Matthew Garner's trust in my willingness to wear underwear, Brittany Lane clearly had the right train of thought here considering I'm the one posting the interview...]
Jerod: Shifting gears to Blogs With Balls, what were you overall impressions of the event?
Hannah Patrick: Everyone has said this, but it was awesome to put a face with all of the talented names that I have been working with. For me, it was a great opportunity to talk to people about what they do and donâ€™t like about the segment.
For example, Blog Buzzâ€™s biggest fan, Chris Motram, and I finally got the chance to meet. That might have been my favorite part. Getting to pick his brain about the segment was great. I took some much appreciated notes that we plan on going over with the big guys in Bristol.
To me, that was the spirit of Blogs with Balls. Everyone was just out to learn something new, share information, and shake someoneâ€™s hand. I think it was a great success, and I look forward to seeing it evolve into something even greater in the future. The guys at HHR really did an outstanding job.
Jerod: Excuse me for a moment while I kick myself again for not going. What were the three most important things you took away from the event?
- Bloggers can be professional without losing the spirit of what they do
- Sports bloggers are just as eccentric, talented, and entertaining in person.
- When they say wear comfortable shoes, they mean wear comfortable shoes.
Jerod: I would define your role as somewhere in between bloggers and the mainstream media. Would you agree? If not, to which side do you see yourself falling; and if so, how do you navigate through the sometimes choppy waters of bridging the gap between blogs and the MSM?
Hannah Patrick: I would agree with the statement that my role lies somewhere in between bloggers and the mainstream media. The line between traditional media and social media is being blurred more and more every day and SMCâ€™s and ESPNâ€™s efforts with Blog Buzz are another step in that direction. We have worked to establish a place as the communication arm between the two platforms. Blog Buzz has simply created another intersection between the MSM and bloggers.
Jerod: What is your most memorable personal sports moment?
Hannah Patrick: In 2006, when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. I had just moved to a new city and didnâ€™t know anyone but my roommate. When the Canes won, everyone stood up on the tables and on the bar and sang â€œGod Bless America!â€ At that moment I felt like I knew everyone in the place. Itâ€™s funny how sports can unite a group of people.
Jerod: Coming from a PR perspective, I would love to get your honest thoughts (good or bad) on how the Raul Ibanez controversy was handled and played out publicly. Specifically, if you had been prepping me for the OTL interview, what would your advice have been?
Hannah Patrick: The Ibanez controversy really was an interesting case study about the dichotomy of bloggers vs. traditional media. This brought about a conversation that was inevitably going to surface. Blogs With Balls was a perfect place for the two sides to share their thoughtsâ€¦ and there were many different thoughts.
From a PR standpoint, there are times to take a lower profile until the heat dies down; this was not one of them. We would give you four stars on the way you handled the Ibanez controversy, specifically for three reasons:
- You were gutsy for jumping on the issue.
- You should always go into a media appearance with an agenda that is as strong, if not stronger, than the person asking the questions. You should be able to articulate your message easily and repeatedly. You successfully did all of these.
- You should also craft your message so that people will first listen, then understand, then believe, and finally remember. Which you did!
Jerod: SMC appears to be one of the leaders in assisting athletes in managing and promoting their reputations. How much of your focus is shifting to the online world and what are the specific challenges/opportunities that athletes face when it comes online PR?
Hannah Patrick: The vast majority of our focus is online. We have been working to push our clients towards the social media landscape and we stress to them that social media has to be a single component of an overall media strategy. Many athletes are hesitant about getting involved in various forms of social media because they are afraid that they wonâ€™t be able to control their message. But the reality is that whether they are in the space or not, they are being talked about. Buzz Manager enables us to provide our clients to with critical information about â€œthe buzzâ€ on the web.
Jerod: We know that there is lots of hype around Twitter and that it is the new time-waster-du-jour for many people in many different industries. How do you use Twitter from a professional standpoint and what kind of sustained impact do you see it having 6 months, a year, 5 years down the road?
Hannah Patrick: We always tell our clients that whatever you put into Twitter is what you will get out of the experience. It has been compared to a river of conversation. You can step back and watch if flow on by, but at any time you can jump in and take part.
Professionally, Twitter has enabled me to keep my finger on the pulse of whatâ€™s going on in the sports blogosphere second by second. I think that will be the heart of Twitter when this initial explosion dies down. The ability to track current topics of conversation will have more of a sustained impact than the other uses of Twitter. I love that Twitter is championing citizen journalism and I donâ€™t foresee that dying down. I think it will play a large role in future elections for sure.
As far as using Twitter as a tool to interact with and follow celebrities, I am more wary about the long term impact due to the high level of involvement that it requires. Other forms of social media, like Facebook, seem more likely to stand the pass of time because it doesnâ€™t require such intense devotion.
Jerod: Time for another random question. You can play a round of golf with any three people relevant in the sports world (including the media, bloggers, etc.) today. Who are they? Why?
- Skip Holtz, because I am a Pirate fan.
- Shaq, because he would crack me up.
- Jerod Morris, assuming his mom would let him out of the basement.
Jerod: Unfortunately, my mom only lets me out of the basement for dinner, yardwork, and White Sox games; so I’ll have to pass. Finally though, getting back to Blog Buzz and the slow but steady blurring of the lines between blogging and the mainstream media, where do you see it going? Where should it go? And what do you think are things that bloggers and the MSM should keep in mind to make this inevitable transition as successful as possible?
Hannah Patrick: Yes the process has been slow and steady, but I think that Deadspin implementing their new commenting policy will be a huge catalyst in this process. Also, the FTC has become more aware of the blogosphere and is making writers become more accountable.
As long as bloggers recognize that professional organizations are taking notice and giving bloggers a voice, there has to be some sort of give and take. The blogosphere is changing, and that means that those who are looking to make money from it will need to get used to the changes.
Our thanks again to Hannah Patrick for taking part in the Behind the Keyboard series and for supplying me with pictures to use throughout. You can follow her on Twitter at @mhannahp and you can jump over to the Sports Media Challenge website to learn more about Blog Buzz and to keep your finger on the pulse of how sports and online media interact.
If you are interested in being the subject of Behind the Keyboard, follow me on Twitter (@JerodMSF) and shoot me a message. Let’s make it happen.