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Chris Gibbs and Richard Haynes

This article uses the phenomenological method to explain how Twitter has changed the nature of sport media relations. The research was based on semistructured interviews with 18 Canadian and U.S. sport media professionals having an average 16 yr of experience. This exploratory study uses the lived experience of sport media professionals to identify 3 clusters that help explain how Twitter has changed the nature of sport media relations: media landscape, “mechanical” job functions, and sport media relations. The results of this research are significant because they help explain how the practices and norms related to the role of sport media relations are changing as a result of Twitter. This research presents a new argument: that Twitter has flattened the sport hierarchy and could be considered the most influential social-media platform in sport today.

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Chris Gibbs, Norm O’Reilly and Michelle Brunette

Without exception, all professional sport teams in North America use social media to communicate with fans. Sport communication professionals use Twitter as one of the strategic tools of engagement, yet there remains a lack of understanding about how users are motivated and gratified in their Twitter use. Drawing on a specific sample from the Twitter followers of the Canadian Football League, the researchers used semistructured in-depth interviews, content analysis, and an online survey to seek an understanding of what motivates and satisfies Twitter followers of professional sport teams, measured through the gratifications sought and the fulfillment of these motives through the perceived gratifications obtained. The results add to the sport communications literature by finding 4 primary gratifications sought by Twitter users: interaction, promotion, live game updates, and news. Professional sport teams can improve strategic fan engagement by better understanding how Twitter followers use and seek gratification in the social-media experience.