Communications managers in pro and college sport have faced a tough choice until recently.
When arranging media phone interviews, they’ve either had to share the personal numbers of their athletes and coaches – without being too sure where those numbers are ending up – or they’ve had to put a whole lot of extra resource into providing access without distributing numbers.
They now have a third option – and it’s changed the game. Let's take a look at how:
1. Player privacy AND accessibility
With Blinder, communications teams can schedule calls for their athletes and coaches, which they receive on their personal mobiles, without having shared their number with the caller.
2. A new level of professionalism to media relations
Comms managers can arrange calls for their athletes at set times and know that’s when the calls will take place. That's because Blinder calls can only connect the caller to the athlete's phone at (or near to) the agreed time. As a result, calls happen when they should. Everyone is appreciating that, as our case study from the AFL's Fremantle Dockers highlights.
3. It's been designed for, and extensively tested in, pro sport
Blinder's clients include teams from the Premier League of English football to the biggest colleges in the NCAA. The technology was incubated in Australasia, where teams from the largest male and female pro sports leagues have used Blinder since mid-2016. Now the system is used across the globe by comms teams managing Olympic champions to Grammy winners. You can see what some of them think of Blinder here.
4. Comms managers are still in charge of arrangements
Just like before, comms managers hold the reins to media engagements for their team. Nothing has changed there. So, comms managers still field media requests, liaise between journalists and athletes, and maintain all those key relationships. But, with Blinder, they then use our web-based dashboard or mobile app to manage call arrangements in a more efficient way than has ever been possible.
5. Audio recordings
Comms managers can record the audio of any call they schedule through Blinder. In fact, some of our clients record every call their team does. They can then play or download these recordings straight from their dashboard as soon as the call is complete. This means comms teams can easily generate content for podcasts and social media, they can provide athletes with media training, and they also have an accurate record of conversations.
6. Nobody needs to download a thing
Blinder marries cutting-edge technology with existing solutions in a way which means nobody has to download anything to make or receive a call. So, the media just make a regular phone call from a mobile or landline. And athletes receive calls just like normal, too. Comms managers can schedule these calls through a web-based dashboard or mobile app. As a result, adoption is a total breeze.
7. Comms managers can join any call
If your comms team prefers to have someone on calls with your athletes, that’s easy. With the click of a button, you can create a three-party Blinder call for you, your athlete and your caller.
8. Fan engagement just got more personal
Teams can use Blinder to provide direct phone access between athletes and fans. These ‘Willy Wonka golden ticket’ calls can be recorded and easily shared on podcasts and social media, making one-on-one conversations something everyone can enjoy.
Within minutes of opening a Blinder account, comms managers are set to use the system. Scheduling a call takes a matter of seconds and can be done anywhere; from a laptop in the office to a mobile phone from the sidelines of training.
10. Clarity of arrangements
All calls for your team happen on one Blinder number, which is local to your organisation. This is the number your callers dial and your athletes receive calls on. Team members and the media are sent call details – along with individual call notes – by text and/or email when a call is scheduled. And then they’re sent a reminder just before the call starts. Everyone knows when a call is happening, who’ll be talking and on what number.
11. A record of everything
Your Blinder dashboard keeps an archive of every call your athletes do. Comms managers can see in real-time when calls have connected and, if a call hasn’t happened, they can see this, too, and follow things up.
12. Blinder works a treat even for those teams who have been sharing numbers
Only calls approved by comms managers can reach athletes via their team's Blinder number, so there’s total transparency around any approved calls. Athletes can also change their number with confidence, knowing that it won’t be shared by their team again. Then the support tools that comms managers have with Blinder – from an audio recorder, to a time zone converter, to automatic call reminders – means there are major efficiency gains to be had, even aside from the privacy ones.
13. It’s a huge time-saver
Blinder is saving sporting organisations and their athletes hours every week by; freeing-up comms managers from being present for every call; automatically sending out call details and reminders to all parties; allowing calls to be rescheduled in seconds; keeping a record of everything; providing call audio; making every handset in a squad available for simultaneous use; and ensuring calls happen when they should. Don’t just take our word for it, though:
"The only other product that saves our staff as much time hasn’t been invented yet."
- Jared Thompson (Director of Content Strategy, Purdue University)
14. Athletes get an armchair ride
Athletes agree with their comms manager when they’re available to take a call and then they answer their phone. It’s that simple. They don’t have to download anything, they get sent call details and an automatic call reminder, and any Blinder call comes to them on their recognised team number.
15. It’s a walk in the park for callers too
Callers are sent a team’s Blinder number and at the agreed time they dial it – from a landline or mobile – and go straight through to the correct athlete’s personal mobile. Callers get an automatic reminder before the call also.
16. You can do fancy stuff
Blinder phone numbers are super smart and can handle multiple simultaneous calls. So, for instance, you could set aside a 15-min window where your entire team could take media or fan calls on their personal mobiles, with every call being recorded. And teams can have multiple comms managers working from the same account, with full visibility across every call their organisation does.
17. The rise of female pro sport
There’s always been an extra duty of care when dealing with young athletes, but the rise of female pro sport raises extra questions around best practice in a male-dominated media landscape.
18. Media disruption
Technology is moving at a rapid rate and the media is widely considered one of the most disrupted industries in the world. It’s now a 24/7 game, with online and social dominating, and with the demand for speed often outweighing accuracy. Comms teams in sport are recognising that the goal posts have moved.
19. Player wellbeing
Male athletes, especially, have a poor record of asking for help with mental health concerns. And with athletes under substantial pressure whenever there’s a crisis – either personally or around their team – or when they’re involved in the biggest competitions of their lives, the consequences of unwanted attention can be huge. Sporting organisations are increasingly recognising that they have a major duty of care in this space.
“If we don’t have to give out players’ numbers, why are we even talking about this? It’s a no-brainer.”
- Anthony Griffin (Head coach, Penrith Panthers, NRL)
20. Competition integrity
Sporting organisations appreciate that sharing their star assets’ personal numbers – while being unsure where they might end up – isn’t a great look when they’re also charged with protecting their competitions from the likes of match-fixing, corruption and banned substances.
21. Athletes love it
The feedback we're getting from our clients is that their athletes love being able to support their team, through their personal mobile phone, without sacrificing their privacy. We’ve already seen athletes from teams using Blinder moving to new clubs and asking them to use it, too.
Want to know more? You can:
- Check out our FAQs or case studies
- Request a shared-screen demo
- Or jump on in and start a free trial of Blinder now
Wherever you’re at, we’d love to hear from you on hello@blinderHQ.com or +64 9 888 9222.