Robert Dover/Dressage4Kids HorseMastership Media Press Conference Practice

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Friday, December 30, 2016

2014 press conference for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival

During the 2016 Robert Dover/D4K HorseMastership Week of December 26-30, I gave a PowerPoint presentation on Media and the Press Conference. A special thank you must be given to Lendon Gray and Robert Dover for the motivation to improve opportunities for USA's up-and-coming riders one at a time. Here lay my narrative for the presentation for your enjoyment.

In 2012, the inaugural year of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), there was no system or designated area for press conferences. Some took place in a small tent, others in the show office and few even at the bleachers. The excitement that first year concentrated on the facility with questions from the press focusing on how the horses liked and adapted to the footing and stabling.

The second year of the AGDF was different. This time, I covered the Festival as a freelance photojournalist writing for Dressage Today, Dressage Daily and later for my own Dressage Headlines website. And, the AGDF set up a specific press area with a functional table, sponsor backboard, microphone and speakers, making it more comfortable and convenient for press to concentrate and use more diversity in their questions.Mikala Gundersen and My Lady owned by Janne Rumbough Photo: DH

For the past five AGDF Florida winter season competitions, though the press have varied agendas, the sport is, indeed, strongly competitive in all aspects by its very nature, but we are all nonetheless here to support each other, help to improve the sport and ourselves, and promote the dressage community in the best light possible.

What is a Press Conference?

Led by the horse show press officer or appointed press liaison, press conferences are gatherings organized for the purpose to provide information by answering questions from reporters. It is an effective way for members of the media to get quotes and information for inclusion in their articles.

Usually taking place in a designated area and occurring right after an awards ceremony and victory gallop for the class competition, a press conference is a sit-down event taking around a half hour or more depending on the number of people in attendance and the volume of questions asked by media representatives.

What does Media Do?

Different media resources who attend a press conference include internet writers, print writers and photographers. There are different types of reporters.Photographers, Media and Press Photo: DH

They include sports reporters for instant news or for later articles, business journalists (public relations writers), investigative reporters and presentation reporters. Many reporters cross over into more than one type depending on the entity for which or person for whom they are working. There are also citizen journalists who include experts within the sport who do not make writing their vocation or career.

Reporters, also known as “journalists,” keep the public informed about important happenings at events. They are responsible for gathering and writing about the news as it happens and posting the information online that day or the next day. Many editors may put pressure on reporters to cover national and/or international events, and be the first with the story or to find a new angle. However, local reporters do not face the same time pressures, particularly when working for weekly publications.

The Intentions of a Dressage Press Conference

It is important that information about the sport is shared with the public, a place and time to gather information about a rider’s history, the care and training of a horse and about those who have contributed to the success achieved. Members of the press are there to create well-written articles promoting their publications and their sponsors, and to gain more readers.

What Dressage Reporters Are Looking For

Professional reporters are looking for their interviewees to be genuine. They want to know facts and how to incorporate quotes into informative material. 2016 Nations Cup Photo: DH

The press understand that dressage translates to ‘training,’ that it takes at least 5 years of training to successfully compete at the Grand Prix level, and that CDIs are an assessment of the current training program with 5 judges’ evaluations and opinions on how to move forward.

Reporters want to know about the training, performance in front of judges, the strategies used, how a horse’s confidence was fostered, what movements were correct and which still need work, and the rider’s future strategies. They want to know what a rider experienced in that arena to achieve the high score that led to be among the three top riders in that day’s competition.

How an Interviewee Appears Confident at a Press Conference

A press conference is an opportunity for riders to promote themselves and their horses. The best way for a person being interviewed to minimize intimidation and nervousness is to have a brief practiced speech ready that covers three points about one’s experience at the show and three people to thank.2016 Nations Cup Photo: DH

Even if a particular question cannot be answered thoroughly, it is more important that the interviewee feel comfortable when replying. In the case of a question stumping the person being interviewed, a pause and a sip of water is helpful to formulating a response. An interviewee should not be afraid to say, "I don't know." Let the press come up with a better question. 

We all must build confidence in trust for one another for the present time and for the generations to come. 

Please consider supporting Dressage Headlines for the 2017 season. Contact Betsy with any questions: betsylabelle@gmail.com