Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why Media Guides Remain Important, Pt. 1

Media guides aren’t useless or anachronistic because they are paper. In fact, far from it.

What's gone into the past is the concept of the bound publication living at the center of the media relations person’s universe.

There is always a need for paper documents. It is a format that stands the test of time, and should be used for the historic record. It is portable and green – created from recyclable, renewable resources and does not require power from the grid to sustain.

Cutting media guide printing is a bit of a publicity stunt. Harsh, but read on before reacting.

We need to recognize that the dysfunction in the modern college sports media guide isn’t the pulp; it’s the fiction. They are not media guides. They haven’t been since the late 1990s when coaches began to flex into the public relations domain, turning the media reference document into a Chamber of Commerce spread on the program, the school, the city and most important, the coaching staff.

The best thing the NCAA could do is not to ban printed guides – a gross over-reach of power to the autonomy of the member institutions – but to return to a once workable rule of the past: the recruiting brochure.

When the rules changed to allow either a recruiting brochure or a media guide as a permissible item to give recruits, we took away a valuable and reasonable tool from coaches and created the hybrid that metastasized into the 540-page monster of the early 21st century. (The second best option is just take all guides – media, recruiting or otherwise – out of the recruiting process.)

Speaking of the NCAA – if all of us, including the conference offices – can’t produce a printed brochure that is longer than 208 pages, why is the College World Series record book over 280 pages long? Perhaps it wasn't a NCAA publication, but it is being distributed at the event.

Oh, recruiting guides are sooooo 1980s. We’re so far beyond the printed word in recruiting. Really? What’s the most frustrating thing in computing today? The PDF user manual and other on-line documentation. Want to know what will keep brick and mortar book stores in business? The row after row of third-party computer manuals that explain how to use the programs with those ever-so green digital documents.

There’s a reason why automobile and heavy machinery manufactures still produce sales brochures. Those are major, five- and six-figure purchases. People want to see the vehicle in its best light and to have those key specs down on paper to compare.

No university or non-profit organization worth its endowment would dare recruit donors – excuse me, cultivate friends – without a slick presentation (dare I say it again recruiting) brochure. Every Fortune 500 company and every one that wants to be produces an annual report.

Hmm. What’s a life-changing event that represents a high five-to-six figure investment? Oh, that’s right – a college education.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Very happy to see this. I hope Media Guides never die.