Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

“I am surprised at the way people seem to perceive me, and sometimes I read stories and hear things about me and I go “ugh.” I wouldn’t like her either. It’s so unlike what I think I am or what my friends think I am.” -Hillary Clinton

Public image is perhaps the most important thing for a professional athlete to think about promoting. After all, it’s obvious that this individual has the skills needed to get into the game. However, do they have the public savvy to stay there? This is probably the main reason I decided to pursue this very niche field. At the time, the University of Oregon was getting a lot of crap because some of the football team’s big names- Masoli, Blount, and James, were getting accused of starting fights, stealing, smoking, and abusing girlfriends. I myself, was as shocked as anyone else on campus. Here were good students and great athletes getting accused of these outrageous crimes- many of which turned out to be true. If you remember, Masoli actually ended up getting kicked off the team.
Generally, it’s not college athletes we see misbehaving- it’s professional athletes. Last year, Tiger Woods was discovered to have been having affairs with a number of other women. Just earlier this year, Brett Favresent pictures of his man parts to an NFL game host. Steroid use was really popular for a while, something that Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong could attest to. And athletes were also attracted to other kinds of sports… Michael Vick and dog fighting, for example.
And while I’m not supporting a free pass for any of these guys, sometimes I think that these crises could have been handled better.
For example, I remember watching how Woods’ PR team was handling (or not handling) the Tiger Woods episode and thinking that I wish I knew a better way to fix the problem. Sadly, it’s not an easy fix. It’s not like when an athlete is about to go pro, they have to take a class in college called Playing Sports and Dealing With the Real World 101. Although maybe they should…
This is where my desired career path and Competition Not Conflict merge. In my mind, I think that athletes should all get assigned to publicists or PR teams that are specifically trained in conflict resolution and even more so, get trained to handle conflict resolution with athletes specifically. Also, CNC is currently developing some conflict prevention programs for athletes, something that’s also maybe even more useful than conflict resolution or crisis management-type work.
Athletes must be taught, from a young age, that they are not invincible and that the rules of society do apply to them- maybe even more so than the average-Joe. After all, these men and women are role models to children and to society at large. Having a good public persona is essential to gaining and keeping strong advertising contracts (look at how many Woods lost when that whole fiasco went down). But athletes also owe it to themselves to maintain healthy and happy lives outside of their sports. Taking steroids has a huge effect on physical health, domestic issues have a huge effect on an athlete’s performance (again, Woods’ post affair interviews and performances can be examined), and getting involved in crime makes an athlete look like nothing more than an elite thug.
Sadly, there is no easy fix for this issue and we’ll be examining it in bits and pieces on this blog throughout the year. At the beginning of the term, I breakfasted with an old friend of mine on campus. She was asking me about my internship this year and I was explaining to her what exactly I wanted to do. An older couple at the table next to us interrupted me and we all launched into a long conversation about athletes and their accountability as citizens at both the college and professional level. At the end of the conversation, the woman took my hands and said, “I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Those guys need someone like you.” I can only hope I can live up to what I say I can.
Next week, we’ll start breaking some of this down. Let’s start by talking about crime and athletes. Until then, cheers.
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Let me just explain quickly that this will be  the first post of my blog’s face lift. Previously known as “The How To’s of PR Today,” I renovated it into a crisis management blog this morning, because I’ve been considering a future career in sports PR and yesterday, I think I brainstormed my niche– crisis management for athletes. Managing a crisis is tricky business to be sure, whether it’s in our own life or someone else’s, and many PR teams fail at it.

I am deeply grateful for the education I’m receiving through the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications, although I think if I were to add one class, it would be a risk communication 101 class. Everyone should know the basics of crisis management. I think the skills required for successful crisis management are related to those needed to solve conflict in real life. Therefore, here I am, practicing. Read my updated “Stats” section for more information. Now, onto Masoli…

As the PAC-10 expands, the Duck football team diminishes. Following his suspension in March after his participation in an alleged frat-house robbery, Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, a native of San Francisco, was caught this week with an ounce of marijuana in his glove compartment while driving with a suspended license and was promptly dismissed from the team. Although he’d had the opportunity to play for the Ducks during the 2011 season, that was ripped from him after the most recent infraction.

Coach Chip Kelly claims that he asked simply for Masoli and his teammates to behave. When Masoli showed that he couldn’t, Kelly could no longer keep him on the Ducks. Although Masoli has one season of eligibility of college football left, it remains to be seen about what will happen to him, particularly following his court date on June 24th.

So what can we learn from all this? From a PR perspective, I think Kelly’s quick decision to dismiss Masoli was well called for, especially after what happened in March. Masoli got his chance to behave, and when he failed to do so, Kelly put his foot down. Let it be a lesson to coach’s everywhere that no matter how good an athlete may be at his sport, it in no way entitles him to do whatever he wants and get away with it.

Secondly, there isn’t much Masoli can do other than live with what he did. Although he has one season of eligibility left, he’s walking a very narrow line. My recommendation would be for him to come out with a statement of regret and apology in regards to his actions. This would show fans that he is mature and that he cares about them. However, I believe this is up to the Oregon football department.

For us fans, it sucks. Masoli really was an incredible player and quarterback. In his year at Oregon playing starting quarterback, he completed 177 of 305 passes thrown for more than 2000 yards. His team looked up to him. His school looked up to him. And his fans looked up to him. He will be missed and he will be remembered for the things that he did– good and bad.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. One of my dream jobs would be to get some really sweet job in sports public relations. I grew up around a variety of sports- from basketball to soccer to tennis to golf and thus consider athletics merely a part of life. Although I didn’t play any of these sports in particular (I did equestrian events), I remember all the different sporting seasons and wishing that I knew more than I did.

Sports seem to have a language all its own. Listening to my father, brothers and the myriad of other men throughout my life discuss Michael Jordan’s latest play, Edgar Martinez’s homerun or Roger Federer’s amazing serve confused me. Since I decided that that’s what I wanted to do, I told my boyfriend (who is quite the golfer, actually) that I really want to learn the basic roles of various players and the rules of the games.

One day, when I represent high profile players, I want to be able to keep up on the gossip, not to mention, it’s great summer BBQ conversation. So I am making it one of my many missions to increase my sports literacy. I want to know exactly what a line drive is, a first down, and birdie shot.

After doing a little bit of online research, I realized I’m not the only one without a clue about all the fancy, shmancy sports lingo. Luckily for all of us sports illiterate citizens, there are resources for us that exist. Some of these include:

1) Incidental Contact: Learn to Love Sports, a website that sells audiobooks detailing rules about a variety of different sports that are mainly targeted to women. Check it out.

2) Also, a kids’ guide is Ducksters.com, where children or practically anyone who reads it can learn everything they’d ever want to know about their favorite sport.

3) Finally, and this is something I’m trying to do more often, is to keep up with my college’s various athletic teams, as well as keeping an eye on ESPN SportsCenter and such. Ask someone to fill you in if you hear something interesting about a particular athlete or team and then just start keeping yourself up to date.

Obviously, like everything else, sports literacy isn’t something easily picked up by everyone. Just like learning a different language, some people pick up the grammar and rules more easily than others. However, you can increase your literacy enough so that the next time someone brings up the topic of the Cavs, you can just smile and nod and say, “Yeah, that was a ridiculous foul, wasn’t it?”

Last week I came up with a few ways to do your part in helping the Gulf deal with the BP Oil disaster. Since I wrote that post, I noticed that this blog post was published on Kelli’s LinkyLove account and so I thought it was fitting to follow it up from last week. Way to stay current, right?

To date, at least 18 million gallons of oil have spilled; worst case scenario, 39 million have spilled. BP has developed a top kill system in order to stop the spill, although they have had problems with mud leaking along with the crude oil. If the top kill fails, BP has some other potential tricks to test. However, even though Obama has put new restrictions on drilling, the problem is far from solved.

Lately, the big issue has been the fake Twitter account @bpglobalpr, which started just a few days ago, and after 50 tweets had more than 13,000 followers, more than double @BP_America, the real Twitter account. Even more strange, BP has done nothing to respond to the tweets from the fake account, besides saying that people are frustrated and entitled to their own opinion.

The PR community is amazed at how poorly BP has handled its crisis management. According to this blog, BP was not transparent, did not control the photos that ended up on the Internet, nor did they act like apologetic, concerned corporate citizens. However, the same article illuminated the fact that no oil spill has ever been well seen to PR-wise. I would guess that when you make a mistake as large as that one, it’s easier to run and hide than actually deal with the consequences, even if that’s exactly what’s needed.

The term’s winding to a close and I’m looking forward to summer. Even though I’ll be taking a class here and there, I’m currently in search of some sweet social media job and am ready to just relax, lie in the sun and not be constantly fending off sickness. That being said, I was taking a look at Kelli’s linkylove posts and stumbled across this one.

BBH Labs, a marketing and branding specific blog discussed the importance of having a life outside of work. Specifically, they mentioned Google’s 20% policy, which gives employees time to pursue interests outside the Google realm, and according to the Google website, several Google products have stemmed from this allowance.

BBH Labs thus discussed the importance of having outside interests, emphasizing that these outside interests help define people and also help bring new ideas to their table. They explain that the best advertisers are inspired not by the product or service itself, but by their own collective experience.

I believe this is applicable to the field of PR, as well. On a team, you must allow people to do what they’re strong in and let them pass at what they are not. Also, in order to be happy and keep good workers, it is important to allow them time to live their own life.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, reading, writing fiction, running, dancing, singing, and going on nature adventures, amongst others. I consider myself a well-rounded person and thus a great candidate for a job. I thank BBH however, for providing a post that highlights that life skills and interests are crucial to being hired and maintaining a well-rounded career.

The Future. These two scary words have been on my mind all day  today… gnawing at me, and I had one of those small anxiety attacks that I’m sure all college students have when they’re on the cusp of graduating… I don’t know exactly what I want to do when I graduate. Granted, I have about eight months or so, at least, before I even have to start thinking about graduating, but still, it happens when I’m about to sign up for next term’s classes.

Right now, I know I’m getting a degree in PR and maybe possibly a Master’s in teaching. After that, I have no idea. I mean, how do you even prepare for The Future as a PR student? Luckily, my professor posted this link to this great blog post on the Spinks Blog about things that a college student can do now to get a foot in the door.

Some of these tips included networking on sites like LinkedIn, attending conferences and other events, getting mentorships and doing a ton of writing. However, what I liked most about this post was how laid-back it all was. David Spinks merely gave some great tips and then tipped us off that some of these (or none at all) may work for us. We have to make our own way in the world and that’s perfectly okay.

So thank you, Mr. Spinks for your timely commentary. Your tips are much appreciated.

I was sitting in the library just now thinking about the future of this blog. Here’s the thing, this is supposed to be a class assignment, a way for our wonderful professor to teach us how to run, manage and share fresh content and ideas on a blog. I however, want to have fun with it. Although I enjoy introductory guides to Facebook and risk communication, I want to challenge myself to cover PR from every angle.

What I’ve learned most in the UO School of Journalism and Communication, and in particular, in the public relations focus, is that the definition of PR is not a simple one. Just check out some of the content that my fellow students and I posted on our takeover week of PROpenMic, a social networking site primarily for PR people (students, faculty, professionals, etc)…

A couple weeks ago, I posted about how to apply the principles of sustainability to the practice of public relations. I was challenged to write about environmental PR in a way that was fresh and exciting. In fact, my blog post inspired the video I later made for the takeover.

So my challenge to myself is to find random topics and apply PR to them. This post merely introduces that new challenge, a change in direction in the middle of my blogging road.

So wish me luck on this new journey, and please let me know if there are any topics that are of interest to you that I could tackle. As Confucius said, “A journey begins with a single step.” And, one more question… How do you define public relations? Because really people, there are no wrong answers.