How to Organize a Content Car Wash

With some planning, you can create batches of original video, audio and images for your sport organization. All in one day!

By Wendy Helfenbaum

Middle-distance runner Charles Philibert-Thiboutot

Sports teams and organizations use storytelling to promote their athletes and coaches on a variety of platforms. The best way to build a bank of assets? A content “car wash” where everyone gathers in one place, moving through different stations to capture headshots, interviews, podcast material, video clips and autographed merchandise.

Organizations such as the Blue Jays and the Edmonton Oilers round up their players, grabbing all the content in one day to roll out over the entire season in marketing campaigns, press releases and social media. Here’s how to stage your own multimedia day with your stars.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) organizes media and content collecting days before every Games. In mid-December, 47 athletes gathered at Montreal’s Hôtel Bonaventure to meet with 20 media outlets plus an in-house digital content team, says Peter Saltsman, the COC’s senior manager of public relations.

“It’s an opportunity to get everyone in one place and to bank content. It’s also important for the athletes so they get in the headspace of the Games and get some of the media and content out of the way in a controlled environment so they can then focus on training and competing,” Saltsman explains.

“Because of the way we’re structured, things change until the very last minute—we didn’t have a final list of athletes until three weeks before. So, the other lesson is to be flexible.”

At Saltsman’s event, five rooms were reserved for the COC’s digital content crew; athletes moved from room to room throughout the day.

“We had 15-minute blocks booked for each station and we facilitated about 900 individual interviews, photo shoots or content sessions,” he says.

“Our digital team came with a detailed plan, which helped a lot. They gathered content for social media, long-form interviews for athlete bios and features, photo shoots and video for our channels.”

Shoring up collateral allows organizations to showcase the teams’ culture and personality, says video content producer Kyle MacNaught from 5 Tool Productions near Boston, Mass. His team works with college athletes from Emerson College, Tufts University and Boston University.

“We’ve been seeing this more and more as the need to create content for specific channels continues to rise,” says MacNaught.

“Being aware of time is the hardest part; whether it’s an executive team member or a sports superstar, you want to be as efficient as possible,” he adds.

Spend more time on pre-production and stagger arrival times and starting points so people aren’t waiting around, suggests MacNaught: “Have a project manager that understands where everyone needs to be and when.”

His team creates a “run of show” for the crew, and each athlete gets a one-sheet in advance with their schedule. Athletes should walk into a space that’s ready to roll, with batteries charged and lighting and cameras in place, adds MacNaught.

“We like to have at least a full day to set up before an athlete steps foot in the facility, so it’s important to have walkthroughs, understand your space and recognize power allocations before building the sets,” he explains.

“Approach this as an event. Make sure everything looks and sounds good. Build this pre-production time into your run-of show so everything is perfect from the first athlete to the last.”

Content days can run 12 hours or longer depending on the number of athletes. Allocate 15 to 30 minutes per person. “Make sure you’re capturing something good, not just good enough,” says MacNaught.

Saltsman stays mindful of the athletes’ time and well-being by building in frequent breaks and mealtimes. “Some of them were there all day and some had some gaps where they could go work out or take a nap,” he notes.

Playing music to loosen people up at the photo station might prevent you from getting clean audio clips at adjacent interview stations. Ask your production team to bring cardioid lavalier microphones or a NoiseAssist plug-in, both of which suppress background noise.

“Post-production has come a long way. AI can enhance voices and remove music during video editing,” says MacNaught.

Tempted to use your iPhone to get what you need? A multimedia day is an intense production; you’ll get better results by leaving the technical aspects to experts.

“With such a tight timeline, you don’t have time to experiment; hand that off to a partner who can achieve your goals,” says MacNaught.

Professionals can also coax better performances out of your athletes, adds Saltsman.

“We worked closely with our athlete marketing team and with the National Sport Organizations to make sure we invited athletes who were comfortable with what we were asking of them,” he says. “The athletes are passionate about their sport, and it’s great to see them talk about what they do.”

Photos: 5 Tool Productions; Canadian Olympic Committee/Antoine Saito
Published March 2024

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