I'm very glad that NAQT posted this. PR is definitely a place where collaboration between NAQT and the community is essential. I'm also thrilled to hear that there will be major improvements in the video/audio recorded at tournaments this year and hope that this continues in the future. Some specific thoughts in response to NAQT's post:
NAQT wrote:On a typical day, we find 250 to 300 new search results about quiz bowl-related search terms. While a majority of these are the same Twitter threads being retweeted and liked, this is still a lot to dig through.
NAQT should be ready to respond to mentions of quizbowl, academic bowl, academic challenge, academic competition, knowledge bowl, scholars bowl, etc. quickly and substantively across Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc. There are tools to do this efficiently and on multiple platforms, though a simple search a few times a day works too. But the response needs to be substantive and geared towards what content is being responded to. A simple "congratulations, hope you enjoyed the event and hope to see you at __insert next tournament in the area!__" might suffice for some, in other cases just liking the tweet might be fine. If it's, say, someone on Reddit asking for advice on starting a team, a much more detailed post and links to info on how to start a team plus a DM would probably be appropriate. Remember, you're not just posting for that immediate audience but also someone who comes across that post in a search later.
This is particularly relevant when engaging with the many non-pyramidal teams or teams who aren't part of the larger community but who will happily tweet or insta lots of pictures of their events, results from their events, their practices, etc. Providing information (advice, practice material, potential events to attend, etc.) is one of the best ways to do outreach well in response to these kinds of tweets and NAQT has a pretty solid website with articles to link to for things like getting better (though I do think some of the articles could be broken-down better and NAQT may want to consider more how-to stories from the vast network of coaches, players, and alumni).
Furthermore, NAQT may not need to respond directly to everything on social media (if, for instance, the result is posted by someone who has no affiliation with the schools like a local newspaper), but should take note of information that could prove valuable in other contexts. A tweet with, say, the results of a county quizbowl competition could then lead to an invitation for those teams to participate more in a direct email that references their performance at the county (and is thus much more likely to be read/appreciated than a generic form email). I also don't think that, by itself, tweeting to principals and schools will be effective; but if you have, say, a cool photo of a team or an impressive result from a tournament and tweet at the principal or school, then that might be much more effective.
Some of the stories we’ve featured this year are a player who break three records in a tournament, a player who participates in quiz bowl while also being the lead in a school play, a player who has played quiz bowl on multiple continents, and a player who also lettered in football and track.
Title and frame content around the story, not a name. NAQT is very good about listing winners, top scorers, players of the week, etc. But why do we care about these people besides their high PPG or the fact that they won? Make the headline the angle here and frame the content around that. I didn't know that the Players of the Week had these stories because NAQT just tweets out "X is our Team/Player of the Week!" with a link and there's no indication why I should click through to learn more about this team. This is frustrating to see again and again. I also would extend this to the interviews at nationals-just "visiting with team X" isn't nearly as good as a substantive title.
The 20for20 interviews leading up to the 2018 HSNCT wasn’t nearly as successful as we hoped in terms of social media response, so we don’t currently plan to do anything similar again.
This lack of context/framing was also one of the issues with the 20for20 interviews. If I didn't know so many of these community members directly, why would I want to click on interviews with them? Why is the coach of Danville High School a remarkable individual? (He IS, as the interview makes clear, but why would I click on it if I didn't know already?) Why is a statistician at HSNCT a remarkable person? I also think that framing the interviews primarily around NAQT members might not have been the best idea for reaching NAQT's core audience of teachers, school administrators, and parents. I think making more content geared specifically to educators and parents would be a good strategy in the future.
We sent out/will send out hundreds of press releases before and after the SSNCT and MSNCT.
If press releases aren't working very effectively (and you can go off past years to see this), then try another angle. Find someone on the editorial board to email. Send an updated press release with photos if you can. Find someone who has a connection to quizbowl on the staff (more on alumni below...). I get that it can be difficult to do this and your success rate is likely to be low, but I know it works because I've gotten the press to take notice in the past
The latter article is particularly interesting because the reporter learned a lot about quizbowl and then followed Georgia's teams
to HSNCT a few years later. This speaks to a larger opportunity for PR for quizbowl: if you want higher-quality stories, you need to create relationships with reporters. Yes, this will take time and involve a lot of dead-ends. But there are things that could be done that, I think, would make for more "reportable" stories too. "X school's team finishes XXth at national championship" is pretty much a "Dogs bites man" story. But what could create a "Man bites dog
" story out of the same material? This, I think, is one of the best areas for quizbowl to think about in the future when doing PR.
On many occasions, Ken and Larissa have talked to media about what quiz bowl is and what it means to them. As a result, we’ve already gotten some exposure in prominent outlets, and we’re open to ideas for how we can do more to build on that.
This is definitely a good start, but I think NAQT could go further not so much by relying on "celebrities" but by bringing quizbowl to these publications, who are often filled with people who might enjoy quizbowl.
For instance: could NAQT sponsor a match between, say, the New York Times
and The New Yorker
(or __insert your favorite highbrow publication/NGO/think tank here__)? Maybe some kind of competition or exhibition could be run at a big festival/conference. I think corporate quizbowl competitions for exhibition purposes could be fantastic (and yes, they do exist and work; I've seen them run by some libraries in several parts of the country). This is not only good PR for the game, but lets reporters at these publications and public intellectuals know that quizbowl is a thing.
Finally, alumni may be quizbowl's greatest untapped asset. I don't have the time or space here to get into this in as much detail as I would like, but there have been thousands upon thousands of participants in pyramidal quizbowl (and many more if you include non-pyramidal quizbowl too) who could be an incredible resource for connections to the media, local communities, and educational institutions. There are many, many cases of people popping up on social media from time to time saying how much they enjoyed quizbowl (many of them are prominent reporters/writers/commentators!). Finding a way to make use of this (and not doing something like, say, a cheap cash grab for $$ that would likely turn people off) would be a great long-term goal.