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.