Successful communications in any organization helps cultivate and maintain the best image by not only encouraging better knowledge and understanding of the organization’s goals, benefits and operation, but also to effectively keep your players, parents, volunteers, and community informed
In Little League, making sure that the program is known in the community will help earn the respect and support that is essential to successful league operations. To establish the league as an effective force and working agency of the people in the community requires an active avenue of communication, projected to those who serve as well as to reach all levels of community interest. That can come through working with the local news media, updating your own website and social media accounts, and keeping your parents and volunteers informed.
Communicating with Your League
Nearly all correspondence from Little League International, literature, handbooks, newsletters, and a variety of other communications is channeled to the league by way of the league president and league officers. It is important for leagues to ensure their officer information is updated in the Little League Data Center.
It is essential that the league president makes this information generally available to league personnel, parents, and in some instances to the public through news media or the league’s online outlets.
People who are active in the local program — they range over many categories of volunteer service — should be kept up-to-date on the affairs of the league and the overall program. Their efficiency and contribution to the local program is impeded if they are not informed fully. Resources are available to help support local league operations on Little League University (LittleLeagueUniversity.org).
Local leagues have an open line of communication to Little League International at all times and are urged to make use of it whenever necessary. The president and staff of Little League International welcome comment from local leagues as a means of providing mutually beneficial communication, as well as the Regional staffs.
Communicating with the Media
Little League is the biggest name in youth sports, and the general public and news media will want to know what’s going on locally. One of the best ways to be an ambassador for your local league and Little League International is through communicating with the media and your community.
Identifying a person in your league to handle your public relations efforts is a great way to ensure that your league’s news and events get to the local news media. Develop a media list of the best contacts at the various news outlets that cover your community, and be sure to send them media alerts prior to events and press releases. Getting the word out through the media about what you’re accomplishing can help your league grow. You’re encouraged to develop a positive, working relationship with the media. If a member of a news outlet contacts you about a sensitive situation, please contact your District Administrator or the appropriate Little League Regional Office. Sample media releases and templates can be found at LittleLeagueUniversity.org.
News outlets are encouraged and permitted to cover local Little League events (write stories, take photos, and shoot video) regular season games, and tournament action. You’re encouraged to help the media as much as you can with their coverage, while ensuring that at no times the media interfere with your game operations. 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 must be present throughout the interview. Only working news photographers and videographers with proper news organization credentials are permitted on the field of play, subject to league approval (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, and at no time should photographers or videographers interfere with game activity or pose a safety risk to players, volunteers, or themselves.
Remember, 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. And, a news outlet can only use photos and video of your Little League activities for editorial purposes. Any promotional or paid usage must be submitted to Little League International for approval.
Communicating Through Online Media
Having a website and keeping it updated with information, important dates, contact information, game schedules and scores, and updates from Little League International is just one way to use online communications.
Another important online tool is social media. Creating a Facebook page or Twitter account for your league or district can help you connect with a broader audience. Keep your social media posts light and fun, with photos from your leagues, stories from the news, game schedules and results, and posts from Little League’s social media. When you have urgent messages you need to communicate or events to promote, use social media as a tool to spread the word.
Remember, once it’s posted on any website, that statement or image is public. Be careful when you’re posting and make sure that you’re reflecting your league in the most positive light and that you have permission to use the photo. If your community members start posting or tweeting about a specific issue, encourage them to contact the league via email or attend the next public meeting. Getting into a social media discussion that could become heated should be avoided.
With live-streaming becoming much easier to accomplish, local leagues may be interested in web-casting or live-streaming games through their own local league website, official social media account, or other digital platform. Leagues are permitted to stream/web-cast games through these league-owned platforms granted they follow all Little League policies regarding commercialization and trademarks.
Obtaining Approval to Use Personal Data & Participant/Volunteer Images
Leagues should have parents or guardians sign a model release each season. A generic sample model release can be found here: LittleLeague.org/ModelRelease. This release should give the league permission to photograph, video, or utilize the image or likeness of the player in initiatives that support the growth and promotion of the league and its activities through any advertisements or social media sites. Such use should only grant permission to the league not to any other entity.
If a league or district chooses to enter into an agreement with a photographer or videographer for a game, tournament, or other league event, Little League International recommends that a formal agreement be arranged between the League and the photographer/videographer, and that all financial aspects of the agreement be fully understood by all parties. It is recommended that model releases be secured from participants before such an agreement is procured.
Game Broadcasting and Streaming
Little League International in South Williamsport, Pa., is the only body that can authorize or disallow the live streaming, webcasting, televising, or radio broadcasting of any game(s) for regular season or tournament play through any outlet that is not fully owned and/or operated by a local league. A contract (provided by Little League International) must originate with the local District Administrator, tournament director, or local Little League president. (See Regulation XV.)
No telecast, broadcast, webcast (recorded or live) of any Little League Baseball or Softball game (in any division) can take place unless the proper contract is completed and approved. This applies to all productions, even if they are unsupported by advertising, sponsorship, or subscriptions. The financial aspect of any telecast, broadcast, webcast (recorded or live) should be fully understood by all parties.
To download a contract for games below the Regional level, visit LittleLeague.org/GameContracts.
For the Regional and World Series tournament levels, all contacts must be originated by the Little League International Communications Department in South Williamsport. Contact Chris Downs, Director of Constituent Communications, 570-326-1921, Ext. 2238; cdowns@LittleLeague.org.
For local leagues, districts, and media personnel, Little League International has guidelines regarding how Little Leaguers should appear in newspapers, on television, in magazines, etc. To download a PDF file of the document, visit LittleLeague.org/Media.
Non-Editorial Media Request
If any business or entity contacts your league about participating in a promotion, commercial, documentary, or anything outside of editorial coverage of your events or games, please note that you must seek approval from Little League International prior to participating in any paid, promotional activity, that identifies your league or shows any Little League logos, patches, or other marks.