Thoughts on AIDA Public relations
Ideas by: Sebastian Naslund (member of Aidasweden)

Establish AIDA as the only authority on verifying records and competitions.

Gain more acceptance for apnea/freediving as a sport.

1) Other verifying agencies such as: FREE, Apnea Academy, Guinneas book of records and the CMAS ‘boycott’.
2) Private ventures as Blain, Musimu, Daros.
3) Medias lack of knowledge of AIDA.
4) National diving federations not accepting AIDA/freediving.

1) National diving federations not accepting freediving as a sport.
2) Swimming pools not accepting, even working against apnea/freediving.
3) The public notion of freediving being more of a lifestyle/adventure than a sport.

The public knows what media publishes and accept whatever authority media points out.

To achieve the aims AIDA has to get access to the public and certain keyfigures with influence over media.

The public being not only freedivers but:
- the huge population of scubadivers,
- people with a sports interest,
- experts such as journalists, doctors, sponsors etc and finally:
- the main body of the public.

The strongest most effective medias are the ones working with images.

There are three types of ‘images”.
- News footage.
- The longer feature (2-7 minutes with deeper insight and commentary).
- Documentaries (30-90 minutes).

Medias do not generally pay for video or still footage for news – they get it for free. Sponsors of events pay for professional footage and gives it to the medias.

This has to be done in an accessible format, to the right person (editor of the day) and within hours after the event. And be scheduled a few days in advance (not too far and not to close in advance) 3-7 days.

Features and documentaries can be done by freelance journalist on order or on speculation, or with in-house crews by initiative of the network itself.

In the case of features and documentaries the producer might still expect to get certain footage for free (UW footage). In some cases on some markets producers even have to pay to get their longer documentaries broadcasted – money comes from sponsors of the documentary or from commercials around the documentary.

It is important to understand how individual journalists thinks and operate. They are very busy and have to scan a large amount of information every day. They are looking for something they think is of “public interest”. They are sensitive and will shy away if they think they are manipulated. They mainly see a pressrelease as additional information to something they already have chosen.

Criteria to be chosen as “public interest” is the magnitude of the event. Or the extremeness of the event or if there is a “human angle’, a personality that can give a phenomena a face. Other criteria are the quality of images – the ‘wow-factor’.

It is a fact that bigger influential media often get their ideas from smaller media.

One big event can get more attention than many small events.

International news distributors as Reuters and AP is a freeway into the worlds medias – if they cover a story – it can end up world wide.

The audience have to be reached through individual journalists. Through ‘active or passive’ information.

- ACTIVE: Educate/inform individually picked sport journalist, which are open towards the “theme” of freediving.
- PASSIV: be present where they are looking for information.

1) If you google the word ‘freediving’ and ‘world record’ it is essential that the Aida-international page appears at the top.

This can be achieved by metatags and more so by having a popular and visited page that is updated consequently. Another factor is the number of pages that link to the Aida international page.

Make every national aida link to AI on the first page.
Seek out the worlds pages on freediving and ask them to link to Aida (in return for crosslink).
Keep vital information on the AI site in order to get more hits (all the apneamania data should be through AI as first page).

2) World cups/championships and world record attempts gets most of medias attention – make sure to make these events synonym with the word AIDA.

AIDA should always have its logo at the prime spot of these events.

3) Link the worlds top 20 freedivers closer to AIDA.

Give them a direct link to the board and keep an open discussion about their needs and opinions. Listen to them. In return ask them to flash the AIDA logo more. Give them a specialised clothing that says something like: ‘AIDA freediving champion 2006’.

4) Plan a huge event that will finally link the name AIDA to freediving. Pick the top 12 freedivers (from the 2006/2007 ranking points, incl records), maybe seven men and five women and let them compete in an all discipline event special world championship.

5) Make a list of every single sportjournalist at Reuters and AP.

6) Create an ‘emergency plan’ (and small budget) for the next time someone tries to break a record outside AIDA. Ride the media wave created by the first person. As an example, next time a David Blaine sets out to break a record – call Tom Sietas and stage a record attempt.

7) In order to be treated as a normal sport which is referred to with points and other vital facts one has to aim for the sportchannels.
The reason why freediving is not there already is because of several facts:
- The sport takes place under water and a live audience have no access.
- The ‘game’ takes too long.
- There are no rapid dramatic changes in the competition.
- Athletes can get DQ on ‘unexplainable’ reasons (a lip touches the water, a coach dives down e t c).

Still a freediving competition is dramatic if you have the background facts and know the basic rules.

Make a DEMO-programme of a world cup and describe the sport it as it should be shown on for instance eurosport – with graphics and professional commentators. Send this around to journalists of the world (and network editors).

8) Find a way to make video and still footage free for newspurposes. Find a way to pay the photographer and have a mediaofficer that knows how to get the material ‘on the show’ – who understands that it takes more than a pressrelease.

9) Continue to look for ways to make freediving more audience friendly (see Vancouver WC UW cameras, see Lausanne WC simultaneous starts, see the Monaco even with live internet transmission).
Are we ready to try to skip ‘announced performances’ let the athlete 2 min before TOP announce – this will put urgency into the drama?

10) Do a member rally (before someone else does it). Aida is only as big as its number of members. Invite new countries by contacting national diving federations or the sport federation, swim clubs, scubadivers. Have a introduction video with the basic rules and ideas on how to train. Offer third world countries free entry fee the first year and 50% the second. Give third world countries a 50% reduction for world cup entrance fee.

Additional costs due to reduced fees can be funded by taking a surcharge of +10% for every athlete that has a sponsorlogo on his suit during a championship.

11) Acknowledge that our world cups and championships are our biggest windows to the world. Make every effort to make them big – 50 countries should be the goal for 2007. Find a low budget option for attendance – hostels, no all inclusive, no dinner ceremony, no training days.

By: Sebastian Naslund (Aidasweden member).