A veteran beat writer for the Houston Texans, Aaron Wilson shares his unique perspective from his journey with being a reporter in the NFL on this episode of Pro Mindset® Podcast.
Aaron started his career in 1999 with the Baltimore Sun where he covered the Baltimore Ravens. In 2015, he began working at the Houston Chronicle to cover the Texans. As a seasoned NFL reporter, Aaron discusses the challenges and objectives that come with covering NFL teams, players, and coaches. Aaron shares how sports reporting looks in 2020 with the utilization of social media. Aaron also gives his press box perspective of the Texans epic loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 AFC Divisional Game. It is obvious that Aaron’s twenty years of experience has given him a unique outlook on the world of sports.
In the podcast, Aaron explains the ethical side of reporting and maintaining good intentions. It is his goal to share the truth. He does not want to abuse his “power of the pen” to settle a score or mislead his audience. “I’m not perfect. Nobody's perfect, but you can be well intentional in what you do. If you do that, I think more often than not, you'll do a good job and you’ll be able to sleep with a clear conscience.” Aaron goes on to explain that he does not always need to share every detail of a story he is reporting. It is important for him to analyze the situation and ask himself, “Will anyone care about this?” and “Do people need to know about this?” Words have impact and can negatively or positively influence an individual’s life. It’s a balancing act between ethics and the power of the story. Aaron shared an experience when he chose not to share a really good story he had written. An individual had lied on their resume years before. The story was “dead on accurate” but there was a grey area surrounding the question of whether a reader would want to read it. Aaron ended up meeting with the person and talking to them about the situation. After their conversation, he chose not to share the story.
Aaron shares how he can measure the engagement of his readers and how social media has influenced sports reporting. He said that analytics give them insight into what articles are capturing their readers attention. They can analyze which stories receive the most clicks, drive the most traffic and bring the most referrals. Social media is also a good indicator of their target audience and where the traffic is coming from. While Twitter may be able to drive up the traffic of a particular story, it is not their main focus.
“Twitter doesn't pay you and we don't get paid by Twitter. Twitter is a free program. It's a free app. We want people to go to our website. We want people to read the newspaper. If you just tweet everything and you don't have a story up on the site, then you’re not doing anything.”
Although Twitter is not their main focus, Aaron has been able to utilize social media to bring attention to some of his stories. For example, he was able to tie a reference from an HBO sitcom into a lighthearted and fun story. It received quite a few clicks and a retweet from HBO. According to Aaron, social media is the number one referrer and grabs the most attention from their audience. “It’s where people are. Some people are on there all day tweeting and debating. It's like those old-fashioned message boards -- that's what Twitter to me has become.”
To finish up his interview, Aaron shared his press box perspective on the Houston Texans’ loss in the 2020 AFC Divisional Game. Aaron believes that the game was a wake-up call for the Texans. “They had to be honest. I think they took a hard look in the mirror and said, ‘That's not good enough.’ We got to get better…and I think they did.” Aaron continues, “I think the most effective way to respond to failure is with honesty. You don't want to be defined by it. You have to put it in perspective. You have to think about why you lost and what you could have done better. You have to call it.” Once an individual can look at the situation honestly, they can turn that honesty into motivation to improve.
Motivation is the third key element of Pro Mindset Podcast host Craig Domann’s seven building blocks to developing a Pro Mindset. As Aaron mentioned in his interview, failure can be a great motivator. The way we respond to failure will influence our overall performance. An athlete must learn from their failure by reflecting with honesty and then respond with motivation. This mindset will bring you one step closer to finding your own Pro Mindset.