This article was written for 3318news.co.uk , to encourage cycle speedway clubs to engage with their local newspapers to get themselves and the sport known, and enjoy seeing themselves in print.
Maybe the main recruitment challenge is numbers who’ve heard of cycle speedway – both potential riders, and people who could tip off potential riders about the area’s clubs.
Thousands read the local paper, and the community papers are posted to every home around the local clubs. If we can get articles published that’s a high return on our time.
One-off articles – e.g. “come and join us”, season and event previews, success in a single event, are great. But regular content, e.g. following a competition through the season, is better.
So, some suggestions for getting yourselves publicised …
60,000 regular readers
Your best target is your local newspaper. It will have thousands of readers and is constantly generating content. So make friends with their sports desk or a sports journalist. Chances are they have an email address in the paper somewhere.
The easier you make it for a journalist, the more likely it is they can publish what you’ve contributed. Send them regular content, in language that they can easily edit if they need to.
Don’t worry about formatting beyond paragraph breaks and punctuation, they’ll load the text in to their own editing software and make it fit their page.
Don’t be too concerned about author and photo credits. It’s fun to see your name there, but that’s not why you’re contributing (is it?).
Home clubs for Elite matches submit a match report to British Cycling. An article is already written, submit it as-is or edit it for more local interest. If you’re the away club, ask the home club for a copy.
Cycle speedway write-ups often have a “heat by heat” style (“the match began with a 6-4, Smith beating Jones from the gate, then 2 shared heats …”). That’s fine, but read your local paper’s write-ups for football, cricket and other sports, and recognise the style they ask of their own journalists. The Ipswich Star much prefers a story about one or two individuals with the match as a backdrop –match winner, young star, debut / developing rider, etc.
If your local paper reports on motor speedway, follow that style – do they print the formula, or just the riders’ names and scores. Do they include bonus points, and heats ridden?
Finally, the controversy. I’m not trying to censor you, if you’re writing articles to help your fledgling career as a journalist and controversy will help then go for it – but if you’re aiming to promote your club and sport then why make every other result hinge on an injustice or cockup?
Do you run a regional championship? Did someone do well in a national competition, or were they hosted nearby? If your young team came 5th in a British Club Championship, or your rider make a C final in a BYJL national round, that’s a “top 10 in Great Britain” story. A podium photo with a paragraph of text looks great, and doesn’t take much writing. Celebrate your clubs achievements like you’re your club’s grandma.
Photos are great, and the difference between a small panel and a whole page article. Make sure you have permission to use the photos you’re contributing. I’ve met a lot of cycle speedway people by asking on Facebook if I can use their photo in our local paper, and they’ve all been happy for me to do so. Don’t put your journalist in an awkward professional position by sending them photos they have no permission to use.
Caption the photos
I send several photos with each submission. I always list the file names and a suggested caption, at least naming the local riders in the photo. Apologies to riders round the country who I’ve mis-named in the Ipswich Star, and thanks to Myke Grimes and Andy Angell for regular “who’s that?” and “how do you spell …” help. J
Papers regularly have corners to fill. I send local league results and scorers as often as I can, and occasionally the South East division 1 and 2 tables.
Club contact info!
I round off every article with “Ipswich’s next Elite home match is [date, opposition] at Whitton Sports & Community Centre, IP1 6LW. Tapes up 2pm, entry is free. Your local club welcomes new riders of all ages and abilities, [web site URL]”. If you don’t have a clear “how, where, when, what do I need” web page then use your club’s entry on 3318news’ “club finder” pages.
A free community paper, in my experience, is less interested in regular content but responds well to “is this the year /summer / school holiday to get on your bike?” articles. A photo of young riders celebrating with a few trophies might just get you on the front cover.
What other benefits?
I started this article after we got some positive Facebook feedback, for the Ipswich Star’s profile of Cody Chadwick and a season preview. 5 hours after the Facebook post 750 people have seen it.
The Ipswich Star published 15 full page articles on Ipswich Eagles and the Suffolk clubs in 2015, along with regular results and league table columns. Plus exposure on the Star’s web site, and tweets from the newspaper about the articles.
While this is great for the club (and we have met new riders who heard of us through the newspaper), it’s great for club sponsors too. Keep a track of that exposure, maybe it’ll sway that potential shirt sponsor.
Finally it’s fun for your riders, and their families. So why not?