Hey everyone, I hope you all had a great summer and thanks for reading! In this post I’m going to talk about the newspaper, radio and TV interviews I did in August and share some of my thoughts on getting more mainstream coverage for poker.
The Newspaper Article
Back in July, Nicola Bardon, a writer from The Irish Sun, contacted me about doing an interview for the paper. A few messages later and we did a pretty in-depth phone interview. A couple of weeks later, I woke up at 2pm to a bunch of messages and missed calls from relatives and non-poker friends who were excited that they had read about me in the paper. Here’s a link to the article for those of you interested in reading it!
I was really happy with how the piece went. Tons of people who don’t play poker reached out to me after reading and the reaction was very positive. Poker isn’t always the easiest thing to explain to people who don’t play but Nicola is really intelligent. She grasped a lot of things I think many people would struggle to understand very quickly and well.
TV and Radio Interviews
After the paper published the article it was picked up by The Mirror’s online edition and some blogs. It also led to a radio interview with Gavin Grace and an appearance on Ireland’s biggest morning TV show Ireland AM. I’m normally a really private person. Before poker, I didn’t even have a Twitter or Instagram account so I was initially pretty nervous about doing all these interviews, especially the TV interview! But I love poker. I want more people to hear about the game in a positive light so there was no way I wasn’t going to pluck up the courage to do it.
The assistant producer of Ireland AM was in touch with me a good few times in the week leading up to the interview. He was absolutely lovely and wanted to do a poker face segment. With the help of partypoker, I organized a poker table to be in the studio for the interview and we did a light piece about my experience as the first female sponsored Irish pro. Ireland AM is a huge show in Ireland so I was familiar with the presenters and it was surreal being interviewed by Alan Hughes and having Simon Delaney (an Irish actor and host that I love) run over to me as I was exiting the set to tell me he loves Hold’Em!
The response to the TV interview was huge. Between the newspapers, blogs, radio and TV about 360,000 Irish people saw something about poker in August. That’s pretty crazy for a country as small as Ireland. It’s about 1 in 12 people. It was a strange experience to have so many people suddenly aware of me as a poker player!
More Work Than I Thought
One thing that surprised me about doing all those media things was that it involved more work, planning and thought than I would have previously guessed. There’s a lot of back and forth involved in organizing coverage and it was time consuming. I had to brainstorm, plan and make notes on potential questions to make sure my answers were clear and easy-to-understand to people who don’t play. Then there are props to organise, questionnaires to fill in etc. I put a lot of hours and late nights into it all. I gained a lot of respect for players like Maria Ho who do an awful lot of work no one sees to promote the game. This takes away from their play time and generally goes unnoticed.
Thoughts on Getting More Mainstream Media Coverage for Poker
As someone with a background in marketing and publishing, I am always thinking about why poker doesn’t get much mainstream media coverage these days. It’s an area I’m really interested in. I think the lack of coverage is a huge problem for the game but understandably no one is super motivated to do anything about it because the benefits aren’t immediately evident or measurable. But the game simply cannot grow if no one outside the poker world ever hears about how fun the game is or the stories of people involved in the game.
In my opinion, one of the problems is that for all smaller sites it likely makes more immediate financial sense to promote their site within the poker world. It’s probably much easier and less costly to get existing players to switch sites than it is to get completely new people interested in the game and playing on the site.
A Huge Opportunity for Poker
I once worked in a magazine publishing house where one of my jobs was to sift through pitches – deleting the ones that weren’t suitable and forwarding the good pitches to the relevant editors.
This experience taught me a lot about how media works. 95% of pitches are rubbish. They are basically people looking for free publicity without pitching any type of story or interesting angle. Even when a pitch is good, quite often the person pitching turns out to be unprofessional or too difficult to deal with. There’s a huge opportunity in that! When most pitches are bad, with a little creativity anyone can pitch a story that’s likely to be picked up. Most magazines, newspapers and I’m guessing TV chat shows, are constantly under pressure to find good stories.
Poker Has Great Stories and Characters Nobody Hears About
Poker has tons of great, timely stories but in my opinion no one in the poker world is really taking full advantage of that. In 2019, there’s been a massive mainstream push to give publicity to women in sports. A huge unique selling point for poker is that women compete directly with men. The women who play the highest stakes are competing directly with men in fields that are 95% men for millions of dollars in prize money. That is a fantastic, fun, timely story that should be easy to promote! If enough of these high stakes female pros were in newspapers, magazines and on TV, I think lots of men and women who have never played or haven’t played the game for a long time would become interested in playing poker again or for the first time.
Sometimes I think the poker industry is a bit stuck in the past when it comes to the types of stories and players it tries to sell. It’s not 2004 anymore and what worked back then won’t necessarily work now – we need to move with the times.
Potential Poker Stories and Angles to Push
partypoker have been making an effort lately to promote some of the great stories in poker – players who satellite into an event and win life changing money should rightly be highlighted! This is a great move in the right direction! But I’d like to see this go a step further. I’d hunt for stories like this and then brainstorm media outlets that might be interested in specific stories. I’d then contact relevant media outlets about the stories immediately after they happen with an interesting angle and professional pitch. Local newspapers would love to run pieces on locals winning packages to the Caribbean for example! Creating a buzz and some chatter around the game even at a local level is sorely needed in my opinion.
I really believe even one or two PR people focused on this specific task who are passionate about the game and possess some media savvy could get a ton of free coverage for poker and bring it back into the public eye.
I’d also seriously look at trends in media and choose pros to push stories on based on that. Pros who are women as explained above are very marketable. Pros from smaller countries are another obvious initial choice as stories with a local angle are popular at the moment. I’m sure there are newspapers in Scotland that would love to hear about a Scottish lad like Ludo playing 25k’s! Maybe I’m crazy and the naysayers are right when they say poker just isn’t ‘sellable’ anymore to the wider public…but I think it’s at least worth thinking about and trying!
Share Your Thoughts!
I have so many thoughts on this area and would love to see poker in the public eye again! I firmly believe it’s crucial for the future growth of the game and I think it’s something we as players should be talking about. What are your thoughts? Feel free to let me know!