Comms managers in pro sport have faced a tough choice until recently.
They’ve either had to share their athletes’ personal phone numbers for media calls, without being too sure where they might end up, or they’ve had to put a whole lot of extra resource into providing access to players without sharing their numbers.
They now have a third option – and it’s changed the game. Let's take a look how:
1. Player privacy and accessibility
With Blinder, athletes can receive scheduled calls 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 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 the Australian Football League (AFL), Emirates Team New Zealand, Netball Australia, New Zealand Rugby and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The technology has been incubated in Australasia, where teams from the biggest male and female pro sports leagues have tested Blinder since mid-2016. Now the system is being used across the globe by comms teams managing Olympic champions to Grammy winners. You can see a few of our testimonials 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 a web-based dashboard to manage call arrangements in a more efficient way than has ever been possible.
5. Comms teams 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.
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.
Callers make calls like normal (from mobiles or landlines). Athletes receive calls like normal. And comms managers schedule these calls easily through a web-based dashboard. There are zero barriers to adoption.
7. Audio recordings
Comms managers can record the audio of any call between their athletes and the media. 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 managers can give athletes tips on how to improve in interviews, they have content for social media, and they also have a record for addressing any misquotes.
8. Fan engagement just got more personal
Teams can use Blinder to provide direct phone access between athletes and fans. These fan calls can be recorded and easily shared on social media, making special one-on-one calls something everyone can enjoy.
Within minutes of opening a Blinder account, comms managers are ready to schedule calls from their dashboard. Scheduling a call takes a matter of seconds and can be done anywhere; from a laptop in the office, a tablet from the team bus, or a mobile phone from the side-lines 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 due, 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 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 hours every week by automatically sending out call details and reminders to all parties, keeping a record of everything, providing call audio (for social content, athlete media training and addressing misquotes), freeing-up every handset in a squad without privacy concerns, and ensuring more calls happen when they should. Don’t just take our word for it, though (click here).
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 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. They get a 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 15min window where your entire team could take media 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 for the squad.
17. The rise of female pro sport
There’s always been an extra duty of care when dealing with young athletes, but managing young female athletes, in a male-dominated sporting landscape, raises some additional questions around best practices.
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 managers in sport are recognising that the goal posts have moved.
19. Player welfare
With athletes under no greater pressure than when 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 major. Then male athletes, especially, have a poor record of asking for help with mental health concerns. So, having numerous others operating on the primary channel athletes use to connect with their family and friends isn’t ideal.
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.