Unicycling and the Media.

UNICC is the name of a Unicycle Hockey team in Canberra (Australia’s Capital
City, about 3 hours South of Sydney). It is all their fault. They were spotted
by somebody in the Sydney Morning Herald, who sent a photographer and a
journalist.

An article appeared in last Saturday’s the Sydney Morning Herald with a nice
photo of them and some quotes from them and me. The information was sufficiently
“almost right”, and the slant was quiet friendly, so I am happy.

Now, the circus has begun.

BBC Radio in London interviewed James Gifford of Canberra - apparently it was
rather an ordinary interviewer, but I will let James tell his own story, if
he wants to.

A new mid-morning, news/lifestyle/infotainment TV programme would like us to
play hockey live on TV. Ideally, they want their host to be trained up to ride a
unicycle, and have a go.

I was also called by a low-brow magazine who presumably want to do an
article on us.

I have had very little experience dealing with the media, even when it is in a
“friendly” capacity. Does anyone have any advice on what to watch out for, or
how to make it a pleasant experience for everyone involved - especially with
regards to unicycling and unicycle hockey in particular.

Thanks

Julian (who is now wondering how to choose 2 teams to play on TV, without
offending everyone else.)

Re: Unicycling and the Media.

Julian.Orbach@unisys.com wrote:

>

>I have had very little experience dealing with the media, even when it

>is in a “friendly” capacity. Does anyone have any advice on what to

>watch out for, or how to make it a pleasant experience for everyone

>involved - especially with regards to unicycling and unicycle hockey in

>particular.

Helpful hints for talking to the press about unicycling:

  1. Change the subject. Often they want to know about things that you don’t
    necessarily want to talk about. Just answer about something else, and steer
    the conversation in your chosen direction. Politicians do it all the time.

  2. Be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be lively and expressive.
    Use gestures and move around. Be interesting (or don’t, depending on your
    personality. Interesting gets used).

  3. Remember who you’re talking to. The outside world, for the most part, does
    not know doodly doo-doo about unicycling. If it’s radio, don’t forget to
    mention that a unicycle is one of those things with only one wheel! :slight_smile: The
    media and the general public need to be told the same basics over and over.
    Things you and I may take for granted. I always try to emphasize that anyone
    can learn, as long as they are willing to work hard and not give up. It’s
    also less dangerous than it looks.

  4. Don’t push concepts they don’t want to hear. I used to try to stress the
    relative safety of unicycling. This makes for boring stories and the press
    looses interest in you fast! Everybody knows unicycles fall down, and they
    want to see it. So let them! But while you show the ups and downs, you can
    constantly reinforce what the observer sees, that the unicycle gets ridden a
    lot more than it gets crashed.

Unfortunately the public doesn’t seem too interested in safety. Nobody cares
about a sport that’s “safe”, not when they are out to be entertained.
Unfortunately, the kind of thing we apparently want to see is Princess Diana’s
limousine after the crash. I sure saw way more of that than I needed to.

This does not mean concentrate on the crashes and the possible (or presumed)
violence of hockey. Just let them happen as part of the overall mix. The X Games
is a real popular sports series on TV here in the states. All of the sports on
there are more dangerous than unicycling, either a little or a lot. That’s part
of what makes them interesting. I think this is why mountain unicycling appeals
to the press. First there is the amazing juxtaposition of a precariously
balanced unicycle on rough ridin’ dirt and rocks. Then there is the element of
danger, then there is the personalities of the riders, who must be pretty
interesting people, or at least have guts.

My group had a nice TV coverage a couple weeks ago, in which Brett (Bloodman)
Bymaster was quoted as saying “I have more scar tissue on my knees than skin.”
But this was followed by the reporter remarking that the falls were less than
you would expect.

Sorry, I got long-winded. You know me.

  1. Remember to tell the good stuff! If you have a guy on your team who’s one of
    the best hockey players around, make sure they know. If you can toss off some
    amazing statistic or fact, it will add to the story. I know a lot of
    unicycling history, so I try to keep feeding interesting facts to the
    reporters. You never know what they’ll latch onto.

Good luck dealing with the press, and most of all, have fun!

<bigger>John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone

www.calweb.com/~unifoss</bigger>

<bigger>“Unicycles R Us”

</bigger

Re: Unicycling and the Media.

>Julian.Orbach@unisys.com wrote:

>>I have had very little experience dealing with the media, even when it
>
>>is in a “friendly” capacity. Does anyone have any advice

John Foss wrote:
>1. Change the subject. Often they want to know about things that you don’t
necessarily want to talk about. Just answer about something else, and steer the
conversation in your chosen direction. Politicians do it all the time.

I agree, and would add to this. Think beforehand about exactly what you want to
get across to the public. If you have a message, a mission etc, know what it is.
If you simply want to counter some common misconceptions that annoy you, then
bring them to mind. If you want something concrete, like sponsorship, gigs, a
better/cheaper practice space etc, or people to come to your next match, then
work out what you want to say about it. You don’t need to memorise words
(politicians do with soundbites though), just note any points you want to put
across and look at them just before the interview.

John is quite right to say that they ask you about things you don’t want to talk
about. They also sometimes ask you questions that are so utterly ignorant that
you are left speechless, making you look silly. There’s a simple way round this

  • so simple that it hardly occurs to most people: tell them what questions to
    ask beforehand. Most interviewers will introduce themselves briefly to you
    before going on air. Hand them a sheet with the questions you want to be asked.
    Most will be happy to go along with this, since it will get good answers from
    you, which is in their interest. They probably won’t just stick to your
    questions though, since they may have their own agenda. Therefore it’s useful to
    ask them what that is - what spin do they want to put on things, what sort of
    audience, programme, slot, are they doing it for. Knowing this will give you
    some understanding of what they’ll be trawling for.

You can also find such info out in advance by chatting to the producer or
research assistant. But don’t assume that any arrangements you make with them
will filter through to the interviewer or cameraman. In fact don’t take anything
for granted, which is why it’s best to have a clear idea of what you want out of
the experience.

Tim

=========================================================
Tim Sheppard tim@lilliput-p.win-uk.net Lilliput Press - Publisher of fine
books in miniature England http://www.lilliput.co.uk The Storytelling FAQ is
hosted here