The new media manager at the Missouri Valley Conference talked to us during today’s class about the challenges and advantages when using social media for sports coverage.
Derrick Docket started as a graphic designer in the advertising industry, but was looking for a new position due to limited growth of that industry during that time. He then found the chance to fulfill his dream of working with sports, especially due to his love for college basketball, and started working for the Missouri Valley Conference, a NCAA athletics conference for universities in and around Missouri, six years ago. He manages the conference’s social media, is in charge of video content, assures the website functions, tweets, sends out podcasts, and covers events, as examples of his work show.
“My job title is sort of non-sense,” said Docket. “I am just a content producer, because I produce all sorts of content.”
When covering different sports events hosted by the MVC, Docket’s goal is to not only focus on basketball, “because they are on TV all the time anyway.” He wants to draw attention to less popular sports such as soccer or swimming and give these sports the chance to get their stories told.
He uses different approaches depending on the kind of event he covers and always tries to do things visually. “Anything visual that can speak for itself is a bonus,” said Derrick Docket.
Docket emphasized the importance of experimentation during his lecture. He said that he has no shame of trying things out, especially because the social and digital media is very fluid. A journalist/ producer should also keep in mind that people on the consumer end think differently than them. He actually conducted surveys on what his audience prefers in terms of which outlet to use and was surprised by most outcomes.
“News consumers just want to click in and watch,” he said.
Most people put a lot of thought into social media content, and Docket advised to get away from this approach. He best results happened to him when he “just picked up the thing and did it.” Especially in sports, since it is a very emotional area of coverage.
In addition, Docket said that his secret to successful tweeting is a very light-hearted, humorous approach. This generates the largest audience and Twitter accounts that are responsive to the audience and conversational are most successful. There is a human behind a Twitter account with a logo in the profile picture, that is why accidents happen from time to time such as the “roar bacon” error by the St. Louis Blues.
Docket’s advice for young journalists that want to pursue a career within the industry is that working on cross-platform skills is critical. One should be able to effectively take pictures, shoot video and write at the same time. Constantly renewing these skills in terms of technological developments and the ability to work with Adobe creative suite is critical as well. Regarding apps and outlets, a personal account can serve for practice purposes, to get creative and explore limits, whereas this experience and knowledge can then be applied to a professional account.
Lastly, Docket gave an outlook on the industry from his perspective and said that video will definitely continue to grow. Instagram added a video function, Twitter added a studio to edit material which is tailored to video and allows for live stream.
“If you are not doing video on any platform, you will miss out,” he said.