HMA Public Relations conducts media training for our clients on a somewhat regular basis. Among the things we remind our clients is to develop a relationship with the reporter, or the very minimum, establish a rapport with him or her.
Former Phoenix Suns coach John MacLeod passed away earlier this week. He is the winningest coach in team history and in my mind, was a tremendous class act.
I can tell you from personal experience, he was also a winner and had class when it came to dealing with the media, too.
Back in the mid ‘80s, the Suns held their pre-season training camp at Yavapai Community College in Prescott. I was working as a sports reporter at KNAZ-TV in Flagstaff at the time. It was a big deal for us at the tiny station to get to go out of town to cover news or sports that was relevant to northern Arizona viewers.
Two years in a row, I had convinced the KNAZ-TV management that we HAD to cover the Suns’ training camp. The first year I showed up as a 20-year-old reporter to interview an NBA head coach and real NBA players. It was a thrill for me and a big jump from interviewing standout high school and college athletes in Flagstaff. As it became our turn to conduct an “exclusive” interview with MacLeod, we introduced ourselves to each other and then I conducted the interview.
Looking back – I’m sure he thought, “Who is THIS kid?”
The next year, we showed up for the same drill. As I approached MacLeod, he greeted me by name and asked me a couple of “how are things in Flagstaff” type questions.
I have never forgotten that. I don’t know if he actually remembered my name or if his media relations team reminded him who I was. But what an impression it made on me; how a big-time NBA coach actually remembered and called by name a reporter from the fifth-smallest TV market in the country.
Thanks Coach MacLeod.