The road trips are finished for now, after the conclusion on Wednesday of the Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professionals Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Then, on Saturday, I made a quick trip down the Queen Elizabeth Way to Niagara Falls, Ont., to give a media relations seminar at the Golf Business Canada Conference and Trade Show, put on by the National Golf Course Owners Association.
You wonder if you have enough material to fill the hour and 15 minute duration of the seminar, only because you’re looking at the subject matter from your own perspective and not that of the people there to learn about approaching the media with news stories and events going on at their golf facilities.
This day, there was an inquisitive group on hand and their questions and candor made the allotted time go by quickly. From a media perspective, there was a disturbing belief in the room that you have to buy an advertisement in order to get coverage from the media.
I’ve worked with publishers who operate that way, not in respect to golf courses, but certainly in favour of advertisers over non-advertisers in other aspects of the Canadian golf industry. I still hope, perhaps naively, that it isn’t as widespread as many in this crowd believed.
I understand that businesses want to look after their customers. Advertising is the gas in the engine of media outlets and, without it, the entire vehicle soon comes to a sputtering halt, which is the concern of many such companies with increased competition from not only traditional media, but now the internet.
It is, therefore, understandable why a media outlet would pay attention to something that is happening with a company that advertises, but hopefully, the non-advertiser isn’t ignored as a result because that’s just a petty vendetta against a business that may be stretched thin in its marketing budget.
That business that is stretched thin this year may have more to spend next year, so it makes good business sense to try and establish a better relationship for the future. It isn’t the slam-dunks that make a good sales person – it’s landing the accounts that have been hard to get.
In the case of the media, it goes beyond dollars. Perhaps, it’s old school thinking, but a newspaper or any other media outlet is supposed to be a reflection of the community in which it operates.
A golf course can be an integral part of that community through such events as charity tournaments and amateur events, but it goes beyond the game with fundraisers and other functions that are designed to make the area surrounding the facility a better place.
Most of the people in the room on Saturday indicated they were from small markets, so a community newspaper or radio station is critical to a golf facility trying to get its message out about what’s going on out on the course or in its dining room.
Golf courses should not think it’s a lost cause to take an interesting story or an upcoming event to their local media outlets. They should form a relationship with the media and remember any support they receive from that outlet when there is money in the marketing budget.
As it is with any business, relationships are the key to success and it’s surprising how someone can have his perception of the industry in which he has worked for 30 years changed so suddenly in an hour and 15 minutes. In this case, the teacher was the student as he listened to the folks in this room.
Some within the media may argue what was brought up on a Saturday in Niagara Falls, saying that media bias is not as widespread as these people think and that their opinion is based on perception, not reality.
If they look at the challenges facing the media these days, it may be wise to remember one thing and react to it.
Perception is reality.