The function of media relations in any organization is to cultivate and maintain the best image by not only encouraging better knowledge and understanding of the organization’s goals by the news media, but to effectively communicate information through the media to the public.
The person assigned to media relations (public relations director) should collect news and prepare it for presentation by news and sports editors of the local newspapers and radio or television news programs. It should be that person’s further responsibility to encourage community interest in the program by whatever means are available. A public relations director should also encourage the participation of adult volunteers and should be sensitive to the reactions of the community to Little League.
News begins with people. News emphasis is often focused on the people who make the news rather than on the event or happening. This trend is particularly evident in the treatment of sports news. Many newspapers no longer print box scores and routine accounts of games in favor of highlighting personalities.
Local leagues should gear their approach to publicity according to the editorial policy of the publications involved. Little League is made up of many interesting people. Feature articles about these people give strong identification to the program. Cooperate with the news media by supplying "leads" to possible feature items.
Editors are busy people. By experience and training they must determine the news value of the many happenings that are reported. The local league public relations person should make a point of meeting the editor, learning from the editor how and when news events in Little League should be reported, and most importantly, invite the editor’s interest and support. Editors do not have the time to read a rulebook nor can they be expected to be aware of Little League regulations.
However, most editors welcome the opportunity to chat with a representative of organizations which make the news and to become knowledgeable of goals, dimensions and activities. Local leagues operating in the interest of a broad international program involving millions of children can make good employment of their status as part of the foremost youth program of its kind throughout the world.
The media should always be invited to attend meetings that are open to the general membership (NOT draft meetings, manager/coach selection meetings, etc.), special functions (Little League Baseball Week, Sponsor Appreciation Day, etc.). Provide in advance: schedules, team rosters (complete names, but not addresses or telephone numbers), listing of league officers, managers, etc., and the name and phone number of the public relations person.
Little League Baseball is not a cure-all for juvenile delinquency. It is advised that the local league public relations director adopt this same attitude. Representatives of the media will draw their own conclusions about the program as they observe the conduct of adults and their influence on players.
The words "Little League" should never be used as merely a descriptive term for all youthful athletic programs. Whenever they appear in print, the words "Little League" should always be capitalized or placed in quotes so as to maintain the trademark significance. A public relations director for a local league may wish to inform members of the media that "Little League" and "Little League Baseball" are listed in the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, and should never be used in reference to non-Little League activities.
While the public relations director of the league normally carries out the functions detailed in the preceding paragraphs, it should be remembered that public relations is the responsibility of all league officers and personnel. Since the program has become a year-around operation in many communities, it is constantly in the public eye and therefore subject to review and comment in the media.
League officers should be prepared to meet with the media and discuss all phases of the league program, as well as to converse intelligently on policy and other matters relative to the program of Little League in its international dimensions. However, general inquiries from media may be directed to the Media Relations Department at Little League International Headquarters.
Interviews with Players – Any time a member of the media wishes to conduct an interview with a Little Leaguer, the player’s parent(s) and/or manager or coach should be present throughout the interview.
Photographers/Videographers – Only working news photographers and videographers with proper news organization credentials are permitted on the field of play (as noted in Rule 3.15) in any level of Little League Baseball and Softball. Such personnel should never be permitted in dugouts, nor anywhere on fair territory.
Little League regulations prohibit the appearance of Little League players in uniform on television programs unless the league receives explicit written permission from Little League Baseball International Headquarters. However, this does not apply to news programs. For instance, a local television station may send a crew to a local Little League complex to videotape some game action for a news piece or feature that evening. This is acceptable, and does not require permission from Headquarters.
The Little League Baseball Media Relations Department has prepared several basic news releases for use by local leagues.