PR Nightmare

I’ll be the first to admit that KC Derby Digest does not have a finished, written mission statement. I haven’t bothered (at least so far). I think it’s phenomenally ridiculous that most companies even attempt one, since they always seem to consist of extremely vague, flowery, circular, pseudo-philosophical brainbabble that, I must admit, still sounds more professional than their actual mission, which is always something like, “To make as much money as possible for, you know, me.”

Nevertheless, as KCDD continues to grow and expand its reach beyond the insular inner circle of the roller derby community and out into the public at large, our message continues to reach a larger and larger audience. Because of this, I’ve noticed a certain trepidation on the part of the various skaters, coaches, and officials I’ve spoken with over the last couple of months. And not for no reason — KC Derby Digest is technically “the media,” at least in the same way that bologna is considered “food.”

Sure, you COULD eat it…

I don’t take their caution personally. From a civilian perspective, most people aren’t used to talking to the media, and if they haven’t been appointed an official spokesperson of any kind, I expect a certain level of reticence, particularly when it comes to information that hasn’t been announced yet. I won’t say who, but someone leaked to me a bit early that the Fearleaders were getting a new name — they even told me what it was — even though in their defense, there was some confusion over whether or not it was public information.

So with all this in mind, I’d like to take a moment to clear up a few things that will hopefully make our Sisters (and Brothers) in Derby a bit more comfortable when the paparazzi arrives, flashbulbs ablaze and microphones athrust. That’s not a word, by the way.

1. If it’s not clear that we’re on the record… we’re not on the record.

We are, at KCDD, roller derby fans first and foremost; we are not investigative reporters. But one thing I’ve learned in my travels is that the best way to get something is to ask for it, and as such, we will often ask questions about your league that involve future endeavors, events, and behind-the-scenes information. We do this mainly because we want to know, not because we’re writing an exposè. If you’re not comfortable answering a question, don’t. Direct us to the official PR liaison for your league, and they’ll take it from there.

No one will be quoted on the web site without their advance permission under any circumstances, even if they put it in writing (e-mail, for instance). We also won’t post anything that is clearly rumor or otherwise unofficial. I can sit here and giggle endlessly at the fact that my favorite Dead Girl Derby team is being re-named and re-defined, as long as I don’t post it. And unless we’ve confirmed that it’s official, we will selfishly keep it to ourselves.

We do this because…

2. KC Derby Digest’s goal is to help — never hurt.

If KCDD had a mission statement, it would certainly include something about painting the sport of roller derby with the brightest colors possible because we believe it. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have constructive criticism for anyone — we already have. What it does mean is covering derby-related events and activities in a spirit of cooperation. It doesn’t make any sense to release sensitive, unofficial information too early or try to “scoop” the league out of some bizarre sense of pseudo-journalistic competition. That doesn’t help the league, and if that’s how we roll, eventually, no one’s going to want to talk to us.

KCDD doesn’t purport to represent any league or serve as an official news outlet, but we won’t have much to report at all if word gets out that we can’t be trusted to differentiate between what’s on the record and what’s not — and that applies equally to keeping things quiet that aren’t ready for public consumption. Remember the Fearleaders re-naming snafu that got spilled to the media too early? Of course you don’t — because even though we knew, we kept quiet.

Getting news in advance of its public announcement can help this crack team of derby journalists be prepared for when the news does break; we can post the announcements at roughly the same time the leagues do (but never before), and word can spread more quickly that way. As such, we will do everything we can to earn the trust of the Kansas City leagues, and hopefully build more of a partnership as time goes on. Just puttin’ that out there.

By the way, is anyone else feeling a little nauseated by that fried bologna up there? Yikes.

3. We will post anything that’s already been posted.

Wait, what?

KC Derby Digest will, without asking, post any information that has already been posted on the league’s official web site, official Facebook page/team page, or official Twitter page.

That’s a lot of “official”ness. But there’s a reason for it: anything posted to those official pages will be considered public information, and we will take it upon ourselves to spread the word at that point. We also reserve the right to post, at any point in time, any original photos we take, as well as accounts of that season’s bouts and public activities, such as fundraisers or jumping half nekkid into freezing ass cold water.

Oh yeah. That’s gonna happen.

Bottom line, KC Derby Digest aspires to the same level of integrity — journalistic and otherwise — as the roller derby leagues we so admire. If we can help spread the word about Kansas City roller derby — in a positive way that highlights this incredible sport and its amazing, amazing participants — then that’s what we’ll do for as long as we’re able. It is, after all, the greatest sport in the world.

We’re not eating bologna, though. Noooo, spank you.

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