A Blogger’s Guide to Euro 2012
Euro 2012 is just over a month away. With league titles in Spain and Germany decided and rapidly drawing to a conclusion in England, Italy and France, European football is slowly transitioning from the weekly cycle of league matches and to a near-daily cycle of international football.
Covering an international tournament is no small feat – whether you’re an editor working with a team of writers to provide comprehensive coverage of each minute of action or you’re a single blogger planning to follow a single team throughout the tournament, there is a lot of ground to cover. Whether it’s live blogging through all 31 matches or poring over the latest Euro 2012 odds to offer betting tips, for most bloggers it’s impossible to cover every single inch of the Euros.
Based on our experience in blogging major tournaments on Soccerlens (Euro 2008 and the 2006 and 2010 World Cups), here are four key steps to providing tournament coverage that makes an impact, and at the end, a handful of blogging ‘angles’ to get you started:
Understand Your Strengths
Before you start planning, you need to understand what you’re good at in football writing / analysis. Maybe you’re brilliant with audio / video recording / being in front of the camera. If so, uou can make video analysis a key feature of your coverage.
Maybe you’re proficient at Photoshop – you could produce an eye-catching photo gallery for the tournament – a Euro 2012 montage that will tell the story in pictures.
Maybe you’re a Football Manager addict (show of hands? All of us? Good, good) – you can look at youth players / obscure transfer targets showcased at the Euros.
For example, if I was blogging the Euros @ Soccerlens, I could focus on any of the following:
- Tactical analysis – before and after matches as well as looking at related issues surrounding the tournament.
- Transfers – scouting players, potential targets for major teams and how they would fit into their new (prospective) sides.
- Targeting Search Traffic – looking at key items that fans regularly search for around major tournaments and providing that information on the site. This is a wide net, again you can narrow your focus here to concentrate on the type of topics you can provide real value in.
You may be the world’s biggest Denmark fan. You may run a football boots or shirts site. Always play to your strengths – it helps you produce something that’s better than average, something that stands out from the crowd.
Add Value To The Conversation
The big teams – Spain, Germany, Netherlands – will be on the radar for most Euro 2012 watchers. So are the big topics – potential transfers, match details and previews, stats, fixtures, etc. In such a climate, you need to focus on your strengths but you also need to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Differentiation happens when you take a regular news story that’s covered on 20 different sites and find a unique news hook that appeals to widest possible audience, while keeping in context with the story. This allows you to a) add value to the global conversation around the story and b) target more readers than the original story actually caters to.
Rooney’s return from suspension to England’s final group game only affects English fans (and Ukraine fans, of course). But you can also analyse this from a historical football perspective, looking at players who have made a winning contribution in a tournament limited by suspension or injury. You can look at this from United’s perspective, and look at Rooney’s international tournament record (dating back to Euro 2004). You can even revisit the topic of Rooney’s place in England squad, tactical adjustments required with and without him, and compare it to other contemporary teams (club or international) in how they cater for their star players.
There are more angles / stories around Rooney’s return, but the key point is – if you’re just going to repeat what everyone else is saying, no one’s going to listen.
Add value to the global conversation around important news stories by offering shareable knowledge and fresh insights. Cater to the football fan – help them find out what they’re looking for, help them see football in a new light, and they’ll not only thank you for it but keep coming back for more.
Get The Word Out
The best way to get your work read is to promote it. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to promoting their work – from the ‘I only write for myself’ school to the ‘I post my article to 50 social bookmarking sites, personally message my 3,000 friends on facebook and text all of my friends’.
Assuming that you want your work read by as many people as possible, here are some ideas / strategies to help you get there.
- Daily news / link roundups: Whether it’s in the form of a newsletter, a link roundup post or an ‘Also Read’ section at the end of an article, the main purpose is to highlight interesting content that other people have posted. The advantage – you can always request a link back to one of your key articles in the future. As long as what you’re writing is relevant to that site’s audience and isn’t something they’ve already done before, you’ll get the link.
The same approach applies to Twitter as well.
- Twitter and Twitter lists: A major tournament is an excellent way to boost your Twitter followers – you will find more and more people turning to Twitter to follow in-play news and updates, as well as team-specific news that they’re unlikely to get elsewhere. You can tap into that by sharing your coverage via Twitter. One of the best ways of gaining a large number of followers during major tournaments like this is your presence on topical Twitter lists. For one of our client sites, we saw 4000 new twitter followers in the first week of the 2010 World Cup, simply because that twitter account was on someone’s 2010 World Cup news list.
Who’s recommending you as a resource for Euro 2012?
Bonus Link: More Twitter Tips.
- Other Platforms: Fancy Pinterest? Use it to create storyboards around the tournament and target a different type of audience than your typical football fan. Avid photo-sharer? Put up your image galleries on Flickr and link to your site (make sure you use those photos elsewhere, including Facebook and your own site). Reddit fan? Contribute to the community during the tournament providing news and updates.
Facebook is getting more and more visual, so it’s an excellent platform to share photos, videos and generally build your readership during a major tournament (ads if you have the budget).
Google+ is a great platform for having conversations with fellow fans – you can use it as an extension of your site to kickstart discussions and again, attract a slightly different sort of audience than you’re used to on blogs and twitter.
- Search Traffic – Facebook may be the king of social but Google is still the king of search. And when it comes to browsing behavior, searching for something online is a key part of how we consume information and / or use the Internet. If your site / articles aren’t showing up in search results, you’re not getting anywhere.
Build A Timeless Resource
We’re used to reading 300 word news stories that no one will read ever again. That has extremely limited value to you and greatly reduces the shareability of that news story as well.
On the other hand, if you build a definitive guide to a topic – something that readers and journalists can refer back to and cite as an authoritative resource – then you’ve got something that will be linked to and get traffic over a long period of time.
- Complete coverage of one team’s Euro 2012 journey.
- Complete coverage of one aspect of the tournament such goals / video highlights.
- A tournament summary of key stats (infographic or just articles.
Make an impact with your writing – make it count.
Ten Ideas For Euro 2012:
Here’s a list of suggestions / topics / ideas / angles you can take for your Euro 2012 coverage:
- On The Ground – Fan Diary. This hasn’t been done properly yet. Daily video blog featuring fans doing absolutely crazy things, stadium scenes, match scenes, interviews, etc. Key focus – video.
- The best of Euro 2012. Highlights. Photos. Stats. Infographics come into play here. Key focus – visuals.
- Team focus. Example – England’s journey through Euro 2012, including detailed squad profiles, complete stats, match reports and previews, quotes, news, photos, etc. If you have more writers at your disposal you can cover multiple teams.
- Euro 2012 PhotoBlog. Not just photos though – add captions and stories around each photo / album. Works best if you’re at the tournament (otherwise you’re just copying someone else’s photos).
- Euro 2012 Scout. Find and profile young and upcoming talents. As a resource this has limited time value, but is of great use in attracting readers during the transfer season post Euro 2012.
- Euro 2012 – Live Blogging. Every single match, minute by minute coverage. Exhausting but if you can link this to more than just one platform (i.e. provide mobile updates, twitter updates and website updates all through a single update), you’ll be able to build a very active following during the tournament.
- Euro 2012 Match Stats. Detailed coverage of the matches only. Lineups, stats, preorts, etc. No fluff, just match / player stats. A record book for the Euros.
- Euro 2012 Betting Guide. A specialised topic but one that will again have a Europe-wide interest and readership, if you can tap into it properly.
- Euro 2012 Gear. Another specialised topic and one that gets a lot more attention in the build-up to the tournament and little attention afterwards. I would use this topic to build an audience that can targeted with similar content after the tournament (football gear in general).
- Euro 2012 Travel. Works better for general travel sites than football sites, but there’s a wealth of information you can share here, from stadium details to host cities to actual travel tips and guides based on local advice. And when the tournament is over, your guide(s) will still be relevant from a football tourism point of view. Arguably not as popular a topic when you’re talking about Poland / Ukraine than Germany, but useful nevertheless.
That’s our guide for blogging the Euros or any major football event. If you have any questions or additional tips to offer, do share them in the comments below.