“We want to tell great stories ourselves and through the media, to take everyone further behind the scenes than ever before, and to deeply connect our team with fans, viewers and sponsors.”
Nearly every pro and college sports team have goals along the lines of the above. But for the communications professionals behind the headlines, there’s a fine line to walk. They need to ensure they’re getting those special stories told, but without risking the performance, privacy or wellbeing of their athletes and coaches. That can be a tough gig. Or at least it used to be.
Blinder was born out of frustrations juggling the demands of storytelling, content production and duty of care in pro sport. It’s since been used around the world by teams from the AFL to the NFL and the NCAA to the Premier League.
Here’s why Blinder has changed the way PR and content teams in pro and college sport can operate.
Easy for everyone
For starters, no one needs any special software to use Blinder. That’s right. No apps or downloads. For anybody. So, everyone you work with is set to use Blinder right now through their own mobile, tablet or laptop.
If you’re a PR manager or content producer arranging Blinder video or voice calls for your team, you do that through a secure online web dashboard. Call details are sent by text and email to your athletes and coaches who join calls just by clicking a link in a text or email (for a video call) or by answering their phone (voice). They even get an automatic reminder. Everything is just as simple for the media or fans to be part of calls.
We know you have to deal with people with a real spread of technical skills – and Blinder works straight out of the box for all of them.
"Quick, easy, safe and keeps a record of everything."
- Kerry Manders, Head of Communications and Marketing, Netball New Zealand
Crank out the HD content
Because it’s easy for anyone to join a Blinder video call through their personal device and have HD footage of each party captured, turning any conversation into content just became a whole lot simpler.
PR and content teams use that firepower to record or live broadcast HD video calls between themselves and their athletes, to make their athletes seamlessly available to the media, and to bring fans and athletes directly into conversations. All Blinder calls are saved to your cloud-based team dashboard and can be shared with the media or others with a single click.
"Blinder delivers cutting-edge content and allows you to make the best use of your time with complete peace of mind.”
- Mark Denham, Head of Communications, Cardiff City FC
Respect everyone’s privacy and time
Blinder calls happen at agreed times only and without any personal contact details being exchanged between those on calls. If you respect everyone’s privacy and time you remove a couple of very legitimate reasons why athletes have been reluctant to share their stories through their personal devices. Call recordings add a further layer of trust.
So, Blinder lets you easily open the storytelling doors while delivering on your organisation’s duty of care.
"The perfect system for connecting everyone without sacrificing privacy."
- Patrick Keane, Media Relations Manager, Australian Football League (AFL)
Fans have (truly) joined the conversation
If connecting is easy, everyone’s privacy and time is respected, and you capture great content, why not have your athletes speak directly with fans? Like… in super special one-on-one HD video calls?
The FA, for example, used Blinder to have their talent, like Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate, surprise and thank National Health Service (NHS) workers for their massive efforts in 2020.
You’re in control
As the PR or content manager of your team, you still call all the shots. You’re the point of contact for your team members and the media. You maintain all those relationships. But Blinder is the tool you use to easily bring your plans to life.
With Blinder, you can control who is on calls, when they start, how long they go for, whether you want to join them, if they’re recorded or not etc. If you’re not on a call, you can see in real-time when it’s taking place and you can play the recording back once it’s done, also.
It works a treat for the media
By focusing on making it really easy for athletes to join Blinder calls, it turns out we made it really easy for the media, too. From their offices, studios or homes, journalists can speak with your athletes just by clicking a link – and you can automatically send them the HD video footage of any interview.
"Blinder has been a revelation for The Crowd Goes Wild, allowing us to easily connect with sports stars all over the globe… whether they are in their lounge or up a mountain! Blinder removes the complexity and confusion of competitor’s products with a simple workflow that even our technically incompetent staff can understand!"
- James Copland, Producer of The Crowd Goes Wild, SKY Television
Heavily road-tested in pro and college sport
Blinder isn’t just for sports teams, but the technology did come from challenges we saw in sport. Our platform has been shaped from working alongside many of the most innovative clubs, colleges and governing bodies in the world, including teams from the NFL, AFL, Premier League, NCAA, NRL, MLS and Premiership Rugby.
We're especially proud to support some of sport’s ultimate boundary-pushers, including US Women’s Soccer, Emirates Team New Zealand (the America’s Cup sailing champions) and Formula E.
Streamline workflows and collaborate
Multiple members of your PR and content teams can jointly manage your organisation’s Blinder account. And with call recordings saved to your cloud-based team dashboard, your editing and production staff can swiftly and seamlessly access the content being produced from wherever they are. Blinder doesn’t just benefit the workflows of your internal team, though. Sending HD footage from any Blinder call to the media is as simple as a single click.
"Enormous benefits in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”
- Ian Hepenstall, Media Manager, Blues Rugby
Save time (for you and everyone else)
As a PR or content manager, you can instantly start Blinder calls or book them within seconds. Then call details and automatic reminders are taken care of. Time zones are sorted for you, too.
Because no one needs new software to use Blinder, everyone you work with is set to do a call right now through their personal device. That removes a huge amount of hassle – as does recording calls, and keeping a record of everything, on your Blinder dashboard.
The ability to jointly manage accounts with your colleagues, or to click a link to share the footage with your call participants, is another big plus when it comes to freeing up your time. But don’t just take our word for it…
"The simplicity and efficiency of Blinder saves hours in a day for all parties involved."
- Hamish Hooper, Head of Communications, Emirates Team New Zealand
Athletes talking to athletes (a.k.a. co-promotion)
Talking to the media was once considered the only way to get sports stories told. Then teams started doing more of the storytelling themselves. And, later, individual athletes grabbed the reins and began doing the same, both through social media and platforms like The Players’ Tribune.
What’s the next evolution?
Direct conversations between athletes and fans are on the rise, but sport has massive room for growth in co-promotion, such as athletes talking to rival athletes about their battles and bonds. It’s a simple, fascinating and still all too rarely done thing.
Well, it’s almost been considered taboo. Or just not considered. And archaic structures in some leagues, that incentivise teams to only promote their home games, have played a role, too.
But recent world events have more people looking through a collective lens, rather than just ‘them’ and ‘us’. And perhaps it’s no surprise that women are taking the lead. When it comes to sports coverage, they’re less bound by old school conventions – and less happy with the status quo.
So, for example, take a look at the video below and tell me you don’t want to watch when Ellia Green (real fast Olympic champion from Australia) next lines up against Niall Williams and Stacey Fluhler (current World Series champions from New Zealand) in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Go full throttle
Back when I was running communications for the New Zealand Rugby League team, we would do remote one-on-one media interviews through my phone. We might get through three or four in an hour. The media would need to be staggered, the athletes would need to hover, my phone would need to be away from me and, even before COVID hit, it was a poor way to operate. But it seemed the best we could come up with at the time.
Now PR and content managers can simultaneously make their entire playing squad available through their personal devices for one-on-one or small group calls with the media or fans. So instead of the three interviews I was getting through in 60 minutes, I could now do 30-plus voice or video interviews in 15 minutes. And all of that footage could be content for my team or automatically sent to the world’s media.
Our goal with Blinder is to help you and your team tell better stories, faster, from anywhere. We do that for some of sports’ biggest brands as well as local clubs just trying to connect more with their community.
If you’d like to see for yourself what’s possible with Blinder, don’t be shy. Drop us a line here to request a free trial.
Caley Wilson is one of the founders of Blinder. He used to run communications for New Zealand Rugby League and netball’s Northern Mystics.