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clubs communications media

A team held a press conference – the media present were not humans

Torgeir Bjarmann was presented as the new Sports Manager at Stabæk Fotball and the press conference became historic.

MIAMI, Fla. (28 April 2020) —

Norweigian football club Stabæk held an historical press conference to announce the hiring of Torgeir Bjarmann as the new Sports Manager. But what was most significant about this presser was that no human members of the media were in attendance.

Each member of the press was given access to a robot and thereby was able to “attend” the conference, ask questions and talk via the robot. Shortly before the press conference was scheduled to take place, the club contacted Norsk Toppfootball, an interest organization for the 16 Norwegian Premier League and 16 Adeccoligaen (second division) clubs in Norway, to enquire as to how they should behave in relation to the press and adhere to infection control measures. 

The premises at Stabæk’s facilities at Nadderud in Bærum, a suburb of Oslo, are narrow and it would have been difficult to maintain the required two meters’ distance. When the idea of ​​using robots that the press could operate came on the table, Stabæk became very interested.

Telia, a digital facilitator in the Oslo area, got in touch with No Isolation.

No Isolation is a Norwegian startup founded in 2015 which aims to bring people together through technology. Find out more about this company here: Home – No Isolation

No Isolation was able to deliver the AV1 robot to Stabæk the morning before the press conference. In addition, two members from the company No Isolation attended in order to assist with the technical aspects. “AV1 is designed precisely to be able to stay in contact in a good way, even though you cannot be physically present,” says Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO of No Isolation. Of note, the AV1 serves an educational purpose and is in use in over 1000 classrooms in 13 countries.

“We were excited about how it would work with robots from No Isolation as an alternative to gathering journalists for a press conference. Although the journalists were not present, we felt a good interactivity and it worked surprisingly well. It was easy to control questions from the journalists and the sound level was very good, both ways,” says Jon Tunold, general manager of Stabæk Fotball. 

“I think here we see a new standard for press conferences. The editors have to make tough priorities on a daily basis, they can’t be everywhere. The robots meet the requirement of presence, while also resolving the time clamp. It is a win-win and something I am sure will continue even when we are back to a more normal everyday life,” says Oddbjørn Vistnes, media manager at Stabæk Fotball. 

The AV1 was the mascot for English Premier League side Everton in April 2018, as this video demonstrates:

Robots are capable of serving a good purpose in situations like the above video shows. As for their use in place of media, while they might meet the “requirement of presence,” I would have to be concerned as someone who engages in communication and media as to what this event might say about the future of this line of work. It’s going to take a long time before atending a press conference via a robot is as effective as having a real person present, but it’s another sign of the growing encroachment of machines on activities traditionally performed by humans.

Concerns aside, in these challenging times, it is good to know there innovative ways to still get the job done when called upon.

By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with a focus on the sport's commercial, communications and sporting components. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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