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Playing The C Card – A Media Relations Farce Of One

December 30th, 2018 · Tags:Satire · Sports

You have my word.  If I am ever invited back for a second time to speak in front of the hundreds of members of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association, or the Dallas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, or the Fort Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, or to be on a panel at Mass Communications Week at Texas Tech University … or to address journalism students regarding new media at Texas Christian University, I promise that I will tell this story.  You have my word.

If I am ever interviewed again by The Dallas Morning News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The San Diego News-Tribune, The San Antonio Express-News, eWeek, The Washington Times or any of another couple of dozen or so national publications and Web sites, they will hear this story.  I promise.

But first, here are a few more thoughts on the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl … It was a tough-hitting game … There was an outrageous difference in size, comparing the Washington State University defenders to the huge, corn-fed giants of Iowa State.  Now having said that, the WSU offensive line are pretty super-sized too.  But the little guys, the skill players held their own.

 

It was one of those games that make me laugh and remember that ridiculous common cliché, that “Defense wins championships.” … To which I respond, that “in most of the games I have attended, the team with the most points on the board wins:)”  Trust me … skill players — brain over braun — are taking over football:)

Ha … the funniest thing all night, last Saturday for this late game aired on ESPN, was watching drunks having a time with the maze of metal gates to get to the ticket booths after a day of merriment on the San Antonio Riverwalk.

The worst observation … I was surprised by Iowa State — pretty good people for the most part — yet they continued booing as an injured Washington State player was down for the count on the turf … I think they just were more into booing than watching the game by that point and didn’t realize there was a man down.  Give them the benefit of a doubt, right? When play resumed, after the injured player was walked off, the booing returned to its previous pitch, so I guess that proves some people stopped for a respectful moment or two.

Thank you!

Most importantly, special thanks from PingWi-Fi.com for the complimentary tickets from Josh in the media relations department at The Valero Alamo Bowl.  I think he “worked it” hard on my behalf, trying to get PingWi-Fi full media credentials, but the higher-ups rejected my application despite Ping’s annual bowl coverage and Alamo Bowl media credentials in the past.  My seats on the first row in the Iowa State end zone were about 10 yards from THE play of the game … and the halftime interview of a boiling-mad ISU coach … ha … and also, my little great-nephew Austin both got to give high-fives to one of the two ejected Iowa State players.

But having said that …

This experience with the bowl game could have been better …

Rejection for a blogger is not rare or surprising.  True, independent bloggers have fought for respect for years, dating back to when I started this line of work back in 2003 … back when mainstream media scoffed at the rise of blogs and social media.  I will never forget sports writers at a bowl game press conference laughing, clueless,  when I questioned a young Case Keenum (University of Houston quarterback sensation, NFL star) about his social media posts … Ha … these sports journalists had not heard of Twitter back then … and now Twitter has taken over their profession.)  Most of them now string together a statistic or two, a lead and post each others tweets and call it writing an article …

It seems so counter intuitive, that the big, wealthy media outlets are given preferential treatment and free access — freebies that they don’t need, while the independent guys blazing the trail and revolutionizing media — just trying to make a living — are turned away or typically have to pay for play … at football games, concerts, film festivals … 

So, any independent blogger worth his or her salt has learned they must fight for every “column inch” of media content — playing every card in the deck/or up their sleeve to get a foot in the door, simply to do their jobs.

So … after going the traditional route and submitting my request for media credentials — a process that granted access to the three other bowls that I applied for in 2018 — The Alamo Bowl denied my request. 

 

And then … YAH! … I did it.  I played the C Card!:)

I sent an e-mail to the media relations people in San Antonio and bared my soul.  I told them this very likely will be my last opportunity to cover Mike Leach because I am in chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer (yes a bad one) with a very doubtful prognosis.

Would you believe that after some discussions, The Valero Alamo Bowl rejected my “dying request” to cover their game as a working journalist!?!

“No ‘cancer man’ … go work somewhere else” … so to speak:)

But bless his heart … this “Josh guy” (my point of contact at the bowl offices) received some pretty impassioned pleas from The Ping …

As a former 25-year PR guy, I simply could not believe the ill-advised decision! … Denying the final request of a dying man … REALLY!?! … especially knowing that I probalby should have been approved in the first place on merit (an Alamo Bowl veteran … a published sports author … a Hearst winner … a blogging pioneer named “Best Of The Web” by Forbes … yada, yada …)

I was told there were just too many requests and the sidelines would be full.

Before I gave it up, I pointed out that in EVERY bowl game I have attended — on the sidelines and in the press boxes dating back to 2008 — there are always people on the sideline who have no business being there … kids, fans, selfie takers, VIPs who are there for the buzz … lots of non-essential personnel.

How could you say “NO!” to a desperate guy just trying to make his blog better!?!

 

 

 

For the record, from my great, complimentary end zone seat, I saw and talked to a lot of people roaming the sidelines.  I had great conversations with professional photographers who made the cut … one a district judge shooting on the side … and even one of the ESPN TV cameramen who was shooting the live coverage for ESPN … great people … Interesting, the ESPN camerman said the sports network has cut back on coverage this year, reducing the number of cameras on the sidelines … AND … get this … I saw and photographed people roaming the sidelines, wearing official bowl game photographer vests … even though it was painfully obvious they barely knew how to work the amateur cameras they were carrying.  Pretty funny.

Like I said … there ain’t no quit in me, so I compromised before the game and requested that I be given permission to carry in my professional lenses and my trusty 35mm Nikon to my complimentary seat with the fans in the stands. (I knew most arenas would not allow the camera … although 60,000 people were taking selfies of the event with cell phones …)

Would you believe that the decision makers at The Valero Alamo Bowl rejected that request too … a second, more palatable attempt by a cancer dude just trying to do his job!?!

 

I negotiated further, hoping someone with some PR savvy at the bowl game would intercede.  I suggested that I contact the authorities at the Alamo Dome facility itself, and see if they would give me a waiver for the camera.

The Alamo Bowl said, okay …  they would go with the AlamoDome’s decision, and washed their hands of the matter.

The AlamoDome staffer said “YES” … yes, IF the Alamo Bowl would give me a credential of some sort to get the camera through security. Then I could sit in the stands in my assigned seat by the endzone, and I could shoot my professional camera from the front row.  Her hands were washed of the cancer guy issue too:)

Finally, I thought that common sense was coming around … 

Again, The Alamo Bowl braintrust and PR oficinados said no.  I tried to help their thought process and said that I could use any type of hybrid media credential, sit in my seat, get the photos I needed … and just not go to the press box or roam the sidelines.  (Those tasks are getting a little more difficult for me anyway …)

With all that I heard and have reported in this blog, this shocked me the most.

My new friend Josh said “No … we would have no guarantee that you wouldn’t go to the press box, or get on the sidelines.”

“No Josh,” I replied. “You do … You have my word.”

Ha …  At this point, I would have even promised to clean up any of my shedding hair that fell on the turf!:)

Would you believe that he said that my word was not good enough!?!

“Now do you want the tickets or not?”  (Tickets that I had already said yes to in writing, providing a mailing address several days prior, I might add …)  They had failed to mail the tickets, so they gave me their word the seats would be at Will Call.

Cancer guy drove the five hours to San Antonio trusting there would be tickets waiting (which there were, thankfully), despite some pretty sketching dealings … TRUST … what a concept?:)

Up until game time in my hotel room, I debated sneaking in my pro camera.  (I never said I wouldn’t … but I didn’t want to …)  Then I read the camera policy on the AlamoDome Web site.  Their policy states that cameras are permitted with up to five-inch lenses.  Hmmm … that would rule out my 10-inch sports/“birdwatching” lens … but the smaller one might get through security.  The smaller lens was about 5.5 or 6 inches.  Should I risk it?  Well … if the camera was turned away, I would be stuck with it at the gate, miles from my hotel where my car was parked and über took over.  What to do?

 

I punted and cut my losses. I took the first camera I ever used on PingWi-Fi  … a somewhat capable, but amateur little Kodak digital.  Better than nothing, I wagered …  And so now I am lamenting the shot that got away.  Washington Statue QB Gardner Flint Minshew II hurdled a defender and flipped over the goal line for a score … RIGHT in front of me … and this is what I have to show for it.  (Ha … that’s right … blame the camera 🙂

 

Thank goodness the in-house videographer got a better shot to save the day … a shot of my great-nephew which appeared on the JumboTron fancam … Note to Austin Scott … when you’re on the JumboTron and viewed by a crowd of 60,000 people … son … smile and “shake yo Wi-Fi money maker!”

Know what I sayin?