Tuesday, March 20, 2007

From Paul Truong

Paul Truong
Photo courtesy of Susan Polgar’s Chess Blog. Used with permission.

Recently I asked Paul Truong about promoting chess. He is the top chess promoter in America. Below are my questions and his answers. Thank you, Paul!


1) What are the top things the promoter of a local chess club should do?

Contact the local media (newspaper, radio, TV, school papers, etc.) and let them know what is going on at your chess club. Prepare to offer them interesting stories. Here’s a couple ideas: tell them about

- Interesting players such as the mayor, city manager, lawyer, doctor, or top rated young player
- Interesting events such as mixed doubles, sibling teams, family team, husband/wife team, boyfriend/girlfriend team, adults vs. kids match, male vs. female, and so on.

If it is not interesting, no media will come. In addition, have a press kit or information packet ready. The easier you make their jobs, the more likely you will get them interested to do your stories.

After the story is out, make sure you thank the journalist. Keep in touch and update the journalist. Create that bond.

2) What’s a Press Kit?

A press kit is a package of information with facts and interesting information about your club or event that you would like the media to know. It should also contain pictures - the higher the quality, the better! This will help save the media a lot of time and they will more likely get the right facts and information into their stories, especially that information that you want everyone to know.

Here’s some things to put into a press kit.

- An information sheet about your chess club. Include basic information such as when it meets and where. Also give a little history of the club.

- A contact sheet listing key officers and other key persons together with their contact information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Give a brief description of each one of the people listed.

- An information sheet describing your event. As in all of these sheets, give basic information at least. If your event has already received attention from outside places (such as Susan Polgar’s Blog) mention that together with the internet address. This helps reinforce the message that the chess world finds your events to be noteworthy therefore they should, too.

- The Press Release. This should be the top page in the press kit. Head up your paper “Press Release” or “For Immediate Release”. Use preprinted stationary if you have any. Otherwise, place the name, address, and contact number of your organization at the top. Now pretend that you’re the journalist writing the story. You write the story. Lead with the most important information. Continue to write the rest as a newspaper story. The purpose of a press release is to summarize the story for the press.

When you are finished, put all of this into an envelope. Label the envelope so that if the reporter drops it in his busy office, he can identify it as your press kit right away. Make plenty of envelopes so that each reporter that contacts you gets one.

A press kit is easy to make and very effective.

3) What can local promoters do to obtain sponsorships for chess events?

Ask yourself one question: Why should ANYONE or ANY COMPANY sponsor your events? Be prepared to answer this question. If you are not, you will have very little chances of getting any kind of sponsorship.

Show the potential sponsors how much you expect them to give and how much they can get in return. If it does not make sense for them, it will not happen. It is very seldom that a person or company sponsors an event just because the event needs money.

Here’s an example: Chess has been proven through thorough research to help children do better in school and in life. For as little as $1,000, your company can make a positive difference for 100 children in our community. This money will be used to organize the Lubbock Scholastic Championship, the most prestigious chess competition in our city. In addition, a banner of your company will be prominently displayed in the tournament hall during the entire tournament. A display ad of your company will also appear in our tournament program book as well as the official tournament website which will be viewed by thousands of people in our community.

4) Free publicity: what are your do’s and don’t for approaching the media?

Do make it simple and easy to understand. Do explain why they should cover chess. Do prepare all information and facts in advance. Do have a media/press kit. Do cooperate anyway you can to make their job easier. Do be polite. Do follow up. Do keep in touch. Do be positive.

Don’t make it too complicated. Don’t be unprepared to give facts and information. Don’t be a pain. Don’t be too vague. Don’t be rude. Don’t forget to follow up. Don’t be negative.

5) What assistance in local club promotion can the promoter presently expect from the United States Chess Federation (USCF)? And/or what assistance should the promoter expect in the future?

Right now, he or she can expect very little if anything from the USCF. The USCF has no such department and no such person who can devote time to help him in this aspect.

If I am elected, many things will change. The USCF will be a state of the art organization when it comes to Marketing, PR and Promotion. The reputation of the USCF will increase many fold. The USCF will become a viable organization in these areas.


The author is a FIDE master and 11 time champion of Vietnam. He has promoted chess events too numerous to mention here. Among them is the 2006 NYC Mayor’s Cup, the highest rated chess tournament in US history. Two years earlier, he was the Captain and the Business Manager of the 2004 US Team to the Women’s World Chess Olympiad. His team captured the Silver Medal as well as 2 individual Golds and 1 individual Silver. These were the first medals ever awarded to a woman’s chess team from the United States.

He is currently a candidate for the Executive Board of the USCF.


Anonymous said...

What is the basis for your statement that Paul T is the "top" chess promoter in the United States. If bragging is the measure, he might be "top" by that score; but chess promotion is full of braggards and there could be some other claimants for biggest braggard.

But presumably you have some other measure in mind. What is this measure, and what was your source of information that he is "top" by that measure?

Anonymous said...

Bill Goichberg. Organizes almost all the top tournaments in the US, and has for years. Now he is running USCF and is responsible for all of its tournaments, too.

Paul T doesn't even come close with the few Polgar-branded scholastic tournaments that he's organized, and the odd other event. No comparison. It's drinking the Polgar/Truong Kool-Aid to even imagine there is a comparison.

Jack Le Moine said...

Got to admit you've got a point. How about "one of the top organizers"?