ESPN Communications Manager Allie Stoneberg prides herself on not only serving the media, yet doing so with her trademark friendly style. However, when it comes to the annual series of NFL Draft-related media conference calls that she organizes with ESPN’s Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, something’s got to give.
Now absent from the calls are the “Hi, How are you?” pleasantries traditionally heard when each reporter was called upon to ask Kiper or McShay a question.
“There is such overwhelming demand for Todd’s and Mel’s expertise, and they want to answer as many people as possible,” Stoneberg said. “To accomplish this most efficiently, we’ve begun asking reporters to please skip greetings and start right away with their questions.”
Time management is one important element in maximizing these calls, which have become among the most anticipated and populated of the dozens ESPN’s Communications team organizes on an annual basis to promote various sports and programs. A Kiper call this week, for example, resulted in 120 media participants from 33 different states and a total of 56 questions in 75 minutes (see sidebar).
Kiper noted, “As the past 20 years have progressed, the significantly increased interest in the NFL Draft coincided with a growing number of requests from reporters seeking comments about a local college player or that region’s NFL team. Working with Allie, we’ve been able to best serve those media needs through multiple, staggered availabilities with Todd or me in the months leading up to the Draft.”
Given the many other commitments of Kiper and McShay (SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and more), it can be challenging for each press call to have supply fully meet demand.
“We wish we could get to everyone, but time rarely allows,” Stoneberg said. “One of the many great qualities about both Mel and Todd is how thoughtful they are. No matter how little sleep they’ve had or how many TV and radio shows they’ve done, Mel and Todd are always sharp, detailed and fully prepared. They take pride in giving media members and fans their very best.”
Overall, Stoneberg’s considerate efforts (coordinated with the help of ESPN executive assistant Cindy Geary) plus Kiper’s and McShay’s accessibility more than make up for any lost pleasantries.
Reflecting the feelings of many media who benefit from the calls, New Orleans Times-Picayune Saints’ columnist Larry Holder recently emailed Stoneberg: “To say you’re being overly accommodating is a big understatement. Thanks so much.”
Allison Stoneberg contributed to this post.