Lions will be ready for huge media pressure

1 June 2017

They will be hoping that rugby dominates the news coverage of their New Zealand tour, but the Lions management and players should be prepared for that controversial non-rugby story that could break on either social or traditional media.

The team will be under huge pressure on this tour, and that’s before we even mention the media. They have 10 tough matches, they’ll have commitments to sponsors, they’ll need to stay in shape with ongoing training, while they’ll also take time to get used to a new country.

That’s a major challenge on its own, but there’s another area they will need to watch just as carefully. That’s player behaviour. A squad of 41 young men visiting a country on the other side of the world under this pressure will surely want time to unwind.

What’s wrong with that?

There’s nothing wrong with letting their hair down a bit after matches. But they must realise they will be under intense media and public scrutiny. It’s not just reporters these days but anyone with a cell phone.

A short video of a player looking a bit worse for wear in the early hours of the morning can blow up into a major story on traditional media. It may be totally harmless, but would lead to masses of media coverage, while Lions management would be asked questions about the incident and the whole focus of coverage could move from on-field to off-field.

I’m sure management have been through media training to deal with such issues, while players may have also.

The only way to avoid this happening is to keep players away from the public when alcohol is involved. Things can be completely taken out of context, while alcohol can obviously cause problems by its ability to lessen a player’s inhibitions. This is particularly so with young men under extreme pressure in a foreign land.

I’m sure the Lions will be prepared for such an eventuality, but also have the strictest policies in place to avoid it happening.

Hopefully the tour is all about rugby and we’ll see some great matches.


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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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