The top New Zealand Super Rugby franchises understand that local media outlets are essential to connect with over the course of a regular season. Whether it is the Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes or Chiefs, each organisation has a duty to build working relationships with these participants. It is through these broadcasters and writers where the supporters access the information about the team, understanding how they are tracking and what they want the fans to know about (and sometimes what they don’t want the fans to know about).
The media landscape in New Zealand is adapting like it is across the world with various countries and sporting competitions. Like the NBA, English Premier League and Australian Rules Football, the media plays a key role for these brands to be present and informative on and off the field of play.
Press conferences offer an opportunity for local news media identities to get up to speed with events at Super Rugby clubs. This is an exercise that will commonly be carried out a day before the actual fixture, allowing the head coach to update the press about injuries, suspensions, their tactical approach against the upcoming opponent, their opinion on a ruling or event and any other details that will be relevant for the supporters. It is a shared space where broadsheet writers and television broadcasters operate together, taking turns to ask questions.
Sitting down with broadsheet newspaper writers offers another media component with Super Rugby entities. When the television cameras are turned off and there is no live reporting component, a coach, a player, an owner, board member or investor will have a chance to elaborate on a subject in detail. These lengthy features are commonly produced once per week, giving the writer and editor a chance to fine-tune the content of the piece before it is ready for publication.
Offering access to writers for live match reports is another space that media figures require to provide their followers with comprehensive Super Rugby coverage. This is to assist those supporters who do not have access to a television or radio, hoping to stay up to date with a minute-by-minute live report or a final match report ready to be published online or via a newspaper. The press box is arguably the most competitive media space for any professional, seeing a limit for the amount of seats that are available. Although the bigger venues like Eden Park for Blues home fixtures would commonly have more space than games for the Crusaders or Chiefs.
Pre and post game interviews with broadcasters is where the media gets an up close and personal look at Super Rugby players and coaching staff. The host broadcaster Sky Sports NZ has unfettered access in this domain, calling upon star players, fringe players and head coaches to get their thoughts about the game. This is a way for the host broadcaster to add extra value for their sports programming, going into detail about team news, matchups, controversies and anything else that surrounds the actual game itself.
Social media interactions is a modern spin that allows Super Rugby clubs to connect with their community members. While editors, journalists and reporters dictate the narrative with other mediums, this is an opportunity for players, coaches and club accounts to produce content that they find interesting and want the public to know more about. It helps to make Super Rugby more accessible across a working week and during the off-season when there are other distractions at play. It is also a means to control costs and to reach out to a younger audience of rugby fans in their region.