Last Thursday, Carson Wentz responded to Joe Santoliquito’s Philly Voice article in a sit down interview with six members of the Eagles press corps. The 23-minute discussion was embargoed until yesterday morning for whatever reason (maybe it had something to do with the Super Bowl), but this was the list of invitees:
- Zach Berman (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Jeff McLane (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Dave Zangaro (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
- Reuben Frank (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
- Sheil Kapadia (The Athletic)
- Tim McManus (ESPN)
I think all of us would probably say that those are six of the “main guys” on the beat. They’re usually up front, asking the bulk of questions during press conferences and scrums. They work for legacy and/or respected media outlets with significant readership. Their stuff is going to move the needle more than the guy writing for the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.
The public relations concept is simple enough; if you put Carson Wentz in front of the entire group, it’s just going to turn into a shit show of people yelling over each other to try to get their questions in. Doing it in the auditorium and passing a microphone around might make sense, but a scrum would be a nightmare.
So you take a small group of reporters who are on the beat daily, put them in a more intimate setting, and let your quarterback be more comfortable facing half a dozen people instead of 25 people all fumbling to get a recorder or a TV camera in his face.
To their credit, the six people who participated got a lot of great quotes from Wentz. I didn’t finish any of their articles thinking, “why didn’t they ask him about (this topic) instead?”
But some people were annoyed that they weren’t invited, which is understandable.
There was more from Jack and some of the other newspaper guys, after the jump:
It’s a fair point, sure, but like I said, I think the six guys invited covered all of the bases and didn’t leave anything hanging.
Dave Weinberg covers the Eagles for the Press of Atlantic City
The other reporters aren’t a “circus act,” but the group as a whole can be. There are a TON of people down there regularly, and while the Sixers beat doesn’t feature half as many folks as the Eagles beat, we’ve had some Bryan Colangelo and Markelle Fultz availabilities that turned into people sort of fumbling over one another trying to shout out their questions.
More from Jack and Sielski via a Bob Grotz tweet that contains two misspelled words. What he’s trying to say here is that the Eagles accused Joe Santoliquito of being “selective,” then went and acted selectively themselves by picking out six people to talk to Wentz:
Mike is right; Jeff McLane is hardly a homer. I mean, Howie Roseman laughed in his face less than a month ago in front of the entire press corps. So it’s not like McLane was invited to the secret Carson Wentz meeting because he would go easy on Carson or fall in line, it was because he’s there every single day and writes for the city’s premier newspaper and legacy media outlet.
More from Weinberg via “Fake Rob Charry” –
Yeah, I don’t think anyone was going to get this invitation and say, “thanks, but no thanks.”
Thing is, this happens all the time in sports media. It’s not just exhibited in these kinds of situations.
For instance, if a front office executive is looking for a leak, is he going to the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Pottstown Mercury? He’s going to the Inquirer, because it’s a massive media organization in a large market while the Mercury is a smaller and hyper-local newspaper. That’s not to insult the fine folks in Upper Montco, it’s just pointing out the fact that their reach and their ability to disseminate information takes place on a much smaller scale by the nature of what they are.
Beyond that, the reason no local beat reporters ever break anything is because team leaks come from the top down. They’re given to national guys like Adam Schefter or Adrian Wojnarowski via front office executives, agents, and people in the NFL and NBA league offices. It doesn’t mean local beats are incapable, it just makes more sense for sources to spread information via national media instead.
Zach probably had the best response:
I’ll stand by my work any day.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) February 4, 2019
I don’t think Eagles PR did anything wrong here. They avoided the “circus atmosphere” by picking out six of the main beat guys and putting them in a setting with Wentz that was more conducive to fair questions and honest answers. I wouldn’t label any of those six as “homers,” though maybe Roob can be that way sometimes.
The only thing that might have made more sense was to only have one person from the Inquirer and one person from NBCSP, because you had six guys representing four outlets, two of which put their content behind a pay wall. You could have invited Jimmy Kempski or Mike Kaye or Zack Rosenblatt or one of the WIP guys instead, which would have given you six reporters from six different outlets.
Either way, interesting public relations case study for the aspiring reporter.