TR needs PR! Or, why we aren’t getting news coverage for GB rifle matches

The Great Britain Rifle Team has achieved a historic victory over America, while the GB U25 rifle team thrashed the rest of the world. Yet where do you see news of this? Virtually nowhere, apart from on volunteer-run Facebook pages (i.e. the most excellent Barry Buddon Broadcasting Corporation) that serve the shooting community.

For all that the airgun/smallbore-focused British Shooting organisation gets right up UKSN’s author’s left nostril by steadfastly ignoring anything that isn’t airgun/smallbore/Olympic-style clay pigeon, they’ve got the PR side of shooting sorted impeccably.

By that, I mean they’ve got demonstrable links to the BBC Sport newsdesk (take a look at Aunty’s shooting news page for proof – whither the Queen’s Prize, or any mention of the Imperial?) and their website has a dedicated press release area.

Compare and contrast to the NRA website, which has no press release area for visiting journalists to come and pick up stories from. Predictably, the fullbore community then moans that their sporting achievements, international and domestic, are ignored by the media in favour of videos of clay pigeon shooters publicly thanking the National Lottery for giving them a golden shower (of cash, not the Soho variety).

What we need – and by “we”, I suppose I mean the NRA – is a dedicated PR person charged with securing mainstream media coverage. I do not say this to do down the current NRA marketing team, who have made huge achievements in generating homegrown coverage of NRA meetings and events, as well as boosting the association’s social media presences, since they took up their posts. What I propose is the NRA hires a dedicated PR person with the brief of generating newspaper and broadsheet coverage.

Even a part-timer could do it reasonably well. All you need is basic information about the match (course of fire, distances, a brief history, what the trophy is, notable previous results), the scores, any notable individual performances (did the new cap go clean at one or more distances? Is this the 50th year that Old Bloggs has shot this competition?) along with an attributable quote from the team captain, adjutant or head coach of at least one paragraph in length – and, if an individual’s performance is notable or highlighted, a quote from that individual too.

Combine that with some carefully targeted email lists and a bit of meet’n’greet with sports journalists, and you’ve got the basics of securing a higher profile for British target shooting.

Journalists these days are very pressed for time and easy space-fillers are a godsend. But it needs proactivity from us – the days when reporters would bimble along in the hope of filing something on-spec to the newsdesk are long, long gone. If we don’t reach out and engage with the media, we’re going to continue to be ignored while airgun plinkers glibly keep on telling the public that the only notable target shooting in the UK is what they do – and that, in the long run, will cost us public support through ignorance and apathy. We cannot afford to let that keep happening.

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12 thoughts on “TR needs PR! Or, why we aren’t getting news coverage for GB rifle matches

  1. Terry Muldoon

    “All you need is basic information about the etc ……

    ‘Fraid not. As an ex-PR Person, I can tell you you need to be able to “place” the articles as well.

    The good news for PR is that most journalism is under threat these days with falling payroll numbers and so lots of news outlets will pretty well publish what you write BUT SOMEONE has to get the stuff in front of the Editors.

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  2. Rich

    “For all that the airgun/smallbore-focused British Shooting organisation gets right up UKSN’s author’s left nostril by steadfastly ignoring anything that isn’t airgun/smallbore/Olympic-style clay pigeon”

    Whilst I take your point, that IS what they’re funded for and paid to do! If the NRA wants to contract British Shooting’s media bods to do some PR for them, I’m sure an arrangement could be found. In the meantime, BS are quite busy with a hectic schedule of World Cups, European Championships, and keeping their paymasters at UKSport and the lottery happy! Just as the NRA’s superb internal media team take no time out of their day to support NSRA events, so British Shooting have their own stuff to cover…

    Incidentally, British Shooting do support ISSF 300M shooters and are not limited to air/smallbore, the UK just don’t have many 300M shooters. BS gave very fair coverage to Hannah Pugsley’s 300M success at the Europeans last month (pair of Silvers and a new British Record in the 3P).

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    1. Gaz Corfield Post author

      All well and good, but the NRA is also a member of BS (what an unfortunate acronym), meaning BS should be promoting fullbore as well. 300m is a non-rimfire discipline, but let’s be blunt – without doing down Hannah Pugsley and the rest of the 300m squad – it is not “fullbore” as the term is understood to refer to TR, MR, F-Class, CSR, etc.

      Of course, if the NRA feel they aren’t getting value for money (or whatever their contribution is) out of BS, that’s their problem. I don’t know what their relationship with BS is but suspect it may just be to cover 300m.

      What narks me is that BS presents itself as the voice of competitive target shooting to the exclusion of other international disciplines. GB’s TR teams, juniors and seniors alike, are currently wiping the floor with the Americans on the Yanks’ home turf, no less. Where’s the BS press releases about that?

      The NRA certainly needs to do more on the proactive PR front. I don’t believe this is a zero-sum game – but BS, as an organisation which presents itself as an umbrella body representing all international shooting and not a domestic discipline-governing body, needs to pull its finger out.

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      1. Rich

        I concede I hadn’t realised that Andrew Mercer sits on the Board of BS.

        Nevertheless, the crux of it is that British Shooting is paid by UKSport to firstly bring home Olympic Medals, and secondarily ISSF World Cup/Championship medals. The similarity between the BS and TeamGB websites and colour schemes is no coincidence, and TeamGB of course is solely concerned with Olympic and Olympic-Feeder/Qualification events.

        Rightly or wrongly, he who pays the piper picks the tune.

        The other slightly political thing is that I suspect BS have a difficult line to tread – they deal with the ISSF. The ISSF don’t like a lot of stuff – such as IPSC shooting. Presumably it could be politically difficult for British Shooting to publicise UKPSA events or be chummy with them, and then turn around and go to ISSF Forums where they’re busy writing mandates that shooting at anything other than black circles is a Bad Thing(TM). I despise that political side of our sport but it’s a thing to think about that presumably makes life very tricky for the guys at BS as to what they publicly and privately do/don’t blog about, etc.

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  3. DNACowboy

    I have written both to the BBC board of governors as well as Director of Corporate Communications at Sky about the lack of fullbore coverage, particularly in response to the news from Camp Perry, I expect a response forthwith which I’ll pass on to Gareth.

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    1. Rich

      To which the response will be… you didn’t tell us about them?

      If the NRA have not pushed press releases to the media, the media can’t be expected to magically know about them. Of course they use various clever bits of software to trawl for news and leads, but they’re not perfect and if the NRA do not pro-actively push Press Releases out, then they have no right to expect their news to be picked up and published.

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  4. DNACowboy

    Hmm I didn’t know that the NRA were so timid, if Nick Halfords still there I may give him a ring and find out who is their press officer.

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  5. DNACowboy

    Ok written to her and asking what happened about the coverage, I’ll post her response here. She has a twitter account which does not mention the NRA, that feels me with foreboding already. 😦

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