After every on-field Richmond highlight – whether it’s Dustin Martin slotting one home from 45 metres, Trent Cotchin winning another clearance or Jack Riewoldt soaring above a pack – digital media guru Anthony Alsop will be busy updating the club’s almost 40,000 Twitter followers.
Days before an on-field campaign with increased expectations gets underway at Tigerland, Alsop details how the Tigers media team prepares off-field, the motivation behind building a strong digital presence, getting players online, and some of the toughest days behind a screen with the club.
From a media perspective, is there an off-season anymore?
We’d like to say there is, but there isn’t. Once the season ends you head into free agency and trade period, and within a few weeks there is the draft and then the players return and it all starts again.
How early does the club start working on those “start of season” campaigns?
The start of season campaigns probably go into planning April/May the season before, once the majority of memberships are purchased. There is TV/radio/print and so much more to go into a membership campaign these days; it needs a lot of planning.
Does the club have a set strategy for how to handle any player issues from an online media perspective?
From an online perspective we keep it pretty simple with both our staff and our players, everything you put on social media is effectively a mini press release. Don’t say anything on any form of social media you wouldn’t be willing to say without a microphone in your face. Our players are pretty good on that front.
The Tigers were one of the first clubs to start building a digital presence. What were some of the reasons behind that push? Did the club take some inspiration from overseas clubs?
We were not the first but one of the first to put a big emphasis on digital, we were a team that wasn’t having much on field success at the time and having a strong digital presence is a way to be more than just a team on the field, you have a personality off the field as well. We definitely took inspiration from overseas clubs like the Phoenix Suns and Manchester City.
Does Richmond encourage players to be active online and engage with fans?
We encourage our players to be themselves, if that means they want to be on social media – great. We won’t force players to get on to a platform, and there are some players on Twitter or Instagram now that we never thought would be in that space.
Is there any in-house training that goes along with that ?
The AFLPA does social media courses for all the new rookies; internally we have an annual social media reminder course, along with our media training. They go hand in hand these days, so they get a reminder at the same time. Our players are also very good if we ask them to take something down.
Was it tough getting some of the players on-board with social media planning?
It can be tough…but on the whole they’re pretty good.
Any horror stories with players or coaches?
Not at all. In fact, the coach (Damien Hardwick) surprised us with how good he was at Twitter when he went to AFL House to answer some questions; never thought we’d see the day.
What game was the hardest to man social media accounts during or after?
Without doubt, the 2013 Elimination Final – mainly because of the build up. The anticipation, excitement, and sickness our fans felt during the game was absolutely incredible. Then there was the pain afterwards.
In terms of a one-off game, the 2012 game we lost to the Suns after the siren.
How often do you miss a goal while busy tweeting an update?
I often have to ask the person I’m sitting next to who did what or how a play happened out on the ground, trying to do text commentary and keep your head up to watch the play is hard.