High Profile Athletes, High Profile Scandals

“It takes years to build a reputation, but only takes a few minutes to destroy it.”

We seem to put athletes on a pedestal, almost as if they are these untouchable, perfect specimens whom exude talent well beyond anything us mere “regular” people could ever dream. Regardless of how inimitable these athletes may seem, there is something that takes them, and brings them a little closer to our reality.

No professional athlete is impervious to a crisis, just like us.

When crisis hits an athlete, it’s like the world is crashing down on them. Cameras, reporters, fans, everyone is welcomed into their personal life and given every detail of whatever scandal or mistake they have made. For athletes, a crisis could mean lost sponsorships, lost dollars, mortified fans, and ultimately a ruined career in the blink of an eye.

With little time to waste in trying to fix the disaster that has just happened, most professional athletes have PR specialists on hand in order to get ahead of the situation and take all the necessary steps in planning damage control.

A public relations strategic communication team prepares an athlete to develop their message in response to the crisis, assists in laying out a plan for communicating with the media, fans, and sponsors, and ultimately puts them face to face with the cameras. Having an athlete directly apologize to the media is a much better way of ensuring a sincere apology than instead having someone else speak on behalf of the athlete.

Tiger Woods of the United States gestures to a fan to be quiet from the fifth green during first round play at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron
Courtesy of http://www.sprksports.com

Let’s recall the 2009 Tiger Woods sex scandal and proceeding car accident. Many crisis communication experts believed the handling of the situation was poorly executed. Here’s why:

  • Wood’s mortification strategies and initial denial of the sex scandals created much criticism
  • He also remained silent days after the accusations were made causing the story to be shaped by everyone but him
  • By the time Wood’s decided to stop running from the truth, it resulted in him having to change his story and finally apologize for his transgressions, which totally backlashed
tiger joke
Courtesy of http://www.englishblog.com

During crisis, athletes should be honest, own up to the mistake, and be direct. Tiger’s attempts in trying to maintain privacy during the scandal ultimately lead him to even more disapproval. Tiger instead shouldn’t have waited to speak to the media and should have admitted to his mistakes immediately after the accusations were made.

Crisis plans are essential for all athletes. Because anyone is susceptible to making a mistake, there needs to be step by step protocol in how to defuse the situation initially and make sure that the response time is not lagging. In the end, PR strategists are crucial in making the client look good and maintain as much of the pristine reputation he or she had before the scandal took place.

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Social Media: The Majors of Public Relations

Social media on smartphone
Courtesy of http://www.interestingmarketingtidbits.com

In public relations, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, might as well be the equivalent to The U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and the Masters tournament. In other words, what I am saying is that social media is a major (pun intended) tool in public relations and personal branding.

 

Some may think that social media is a waste of time. Why should I care what you had for lunch, some say or why do I need to see a picture of your cat? In truth however, through the vast harmless “junk” social media users find, public relations practitioners have harnessed the tool for pure social strategy. These social media platforms have created breakthroughs in interacting with target audiences and key influencers. Because so many people are on social media, public relations practitioners have fans and followers right at their fingertips.

In the sports industry, a PR specialist will at times take hold of an organization or athletes social media platform’s. This means, they will strategically tweet for a player or organization, reaching out to their fans, or supporting a charity for example through any social platform in order to work their personal brand. Because, with the easy click of a button, a team or athlete can make a crucial mistake by posting something out of brand, jeopardizing who they’ve come to represent themselves as, public relations professionals use their skills to avoid these blunders from happening.

With social outreach being so attainable now, social media platforms are both a blessing and a curse. By being able to interact personally with fans, athletes and organizations are able to break down barriers and give fans unparalleled insight into who they are behind the game. This makes it very amusing and fun for the fans.

However, one simple tweet, photo, or status, can completely change the way an athlete or organization has illustrated themselves. There have been many situations where professional athletes have shared controversial or inappropriate posts, which resulted in utter backlash from their audience. At that point, all that can be done is the removal of the post and an apology can and should be made.

It is very crucial that professionals be careful in what they share on social media. Although you may have deleted a post, it has likely already been seen and opinions have already been made. The fragility of the social media avenue is why PR specialists often find themselves assisting athletes and teams. According to socialmediaexplorer.com, “social media is essentially public relations in the online world.” Leave it to the PR pro’s to help with the fine skill of social media.

“The Golden Child” : Jordan Spieth is Personal Branding

2015-wgc-cadillac-match-play-round-3-jordan-spieth-no-18
Courtesy of http://www.jordanspiethgolf.com

22 year old professional golf phenomena, Jordan Spieth, has seemingly taken on the modern celebrity guise in an unaccustomed, but admirable approach. With an estimated net worth of nearly 54,000,000 dollars, Spieth’s on-course and off-course demeanor would give no sign of the “Golden Child’s” utmost success and downright star power. This reputation is in big part due to his personal brand.

Personal branding is what defines who you are and what you represent, in other words, how you aim to set your “mark” on the world. In public relations, particularly sports public relations, practitioners are used to guide, improve, and assist in an organization or athlete’s “mark.”

The main goal for a PR practitioner in personal branding is to achieve and sustain high visibility for their organization or athlete. There are various different tactics that PR practitioners use in branding. Whether it’s monitoring how their client is represented in the media, helping gain media coverage, or coupling up an athlete or organization with the community, PR is needed to protect the brand image.

The list goes on and on with the amount of craze that the media has for Jordan Spieth. It’s almost as if every where I look, there is some sort of news about the golf stud. Currently, it’s “Jordan Spieth signs multiyear deal with Coca-Cola” and “Take a tour of Jordan Spieth’s new $7.1 million Dallas mansion.”

Spieth has become an ultimate fan favorite. Whether it’s his bulletproof golf game, humble manner, devotion to family, or down right guy-good virtues, his personal brand is the “Golden Child.” Although it’s a nickname he himself doesn’t particularly enjoy, it’s what the fans praise.

Most noteworthy about Spieth is his inspiration from his younger sister Ellie, who has special needs. His sister and strong family support are what led him to create the Jordan Spieth Charitable Trust, lending time towards awareness and assistance in three philanthropic areas: special needs youth, junior golf, and military families.

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Courtesy of http://www.jordanspiethgolf.com

Although all of these qualities that Spieth exhibits seem awe-inspiring to us, it’s who he is. Spieth has managed to keep himself out of the public’s eye and maintain a life of normalcy and confidentiality, which is exactly what the 22 year old wants. There’s no denying that Spieth has become the “it” player among the fans, and rightfully so. His personal branding is key to what distinguishes him from other athletes and what aids in his monumental success.

 

 

Welcome to the World of Sports PR

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If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it might as well be that sports have consumed my life ever since I can remember. Growing up in California and Florida, which are major hubs for sports teams and organizations, I was exposed to athletics at very young age. Since then, I have found myself unequivocally drawn to the field of sports.

It is my ambition to grow into the best PR professional that I can be and use my skills to work in the sports industry. My passion for sports has inspired me to strive for the opportunity to work as a sports public relations specialist.

So, this is where I start. The purpose of this blog is to write to aspiring PR practitioners and sports fanatics like me, about the ways that public relations is utilized in the sports industry. I plan to touch on many different sports, but focus on golf whenever I find it accessible and inline with the topic at hand, as I am especially interested in the PGA TOUR. Over the next few weeks, I will cover PR themes such as event management, athletes personal branding, and crisis communication, among others.

Not only will I be growing as a public relations specialist and inspire myself to work hard at achieving my goals through this blog, but hopefully I will be doing the same for readers. My goal for you readers is to communicate with me what you would like to see from my blog and pose any questions that you have for me.

Cheers!