Storytelling and the College Recruiting Process

Storytelling and the College Recruiting Process

story-telling-college-recruiting-processGood morning!

Wow. Hard to believe that Summer is winding down. Across the country, many schools have already started and some will start right after Labor Day. It always seems to go by way too quickly.

This week I want to talk about storytelling. As you can imagine, I watch a lot of video. And, as I watch the video, a story unfolds before my eyes and it is my job to tell the story in a way that gets a coach to take action. A couple things stand out as I write this.

The first thing that stands out is that I know our ultimate customer (the college coach) is super busy and we have to organize our player information and plays in a way that grabs their attention immediately and encourages them to keep watching.  It is similar, in my mind, to a television commercial.

I spent 2 years with The Nielsen Company consulting with our clients on ad effectiveness. We actually measured the effectiveness of television advertising through an online panel of viewers. It was incredibly interesting and debunked the theory of whether or not advertising was really working.  Even more interesting is the fact that a television ad has to tell a story in 30 – 60 seconds.

Out of that work, I learned a few things that are extremely important and I think translate well into sports recruiting videos and storytelling.  I will highlight just a few here.

The Hook

The Hook is the thing that is going to grab your attention immediately and keep you interested.  If you look through our videos, we put the first  “hook” in a frame right after the opening that puts “facts” on the screen. Things like grades, height, weight, GPA, academic and athletic awards are great “hooks” that keep a coach interested. The second “hook” is in the way we organize the plays by category and start with the player’s strongest skills. It may be scoring, ball handling, passing, defense – whatever is the best thing that the athlete does.  We want to “hook” the coach in the first few plays with something that blows them away!  The best plays always go up front.


In television advertising, branding needs to come within the first few seconds of the video and repeat throughout the commercial.  Again, we accomplish this in the athlete video by establishing the brand early (the athlete) and then we repeat on each category frame with the athlete’s name and the specific skill we are about to see.  And, then again on the final frame.


If you think of your favorite television ads you will undoubtedly have a few that come to mind.  It’s that “thing” that spurs emotion in you.  I am a car nut (makes sense I spent so many years in the automotive space!) and so I think about two kinds of commercials.  One is what we call “car on road” which is running, boring footage of a car driving through different scenery.  You see them every day and these ads don’t really evoke any emotion.

Then, I think of ads that actually appeal to me.  Sports car ads with squealing tires and engine noise will get me to look up for sure!  And, that is how I think of athlete videos.  I’m looking for that “squealing tire” moment that I know will get the coach’s attention and bring it up front.  Then, the job is to keep showing repeating evidence of the promise made in the first few plays.

Call to Action

At the end, an ad has a call to action.  In the sports highlight video, that call to action comes at the end of the video with an email address or phone number for a coach to be able to take that next step.

All this adds up and ties back to storytelling and hopefully some context as to how we approach the athlete video.  So, as your athlete approaches their next season, please ask them to play the game as if they are telling a story!

Have a great week!