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Hey, NFL Draft Picks: Here’s Some Free PR Advice

There’s no such thing as bad publicity…is this true for everyone? I say yes, no and maybe, on a case by case basis. Let’s look at the 2013 NFL Draft to prove my point, or at the very least, to speculate on its merits.

Enter Tyrann Mathieu, 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and LSU cornerback selected in the third round by the AZ Cardinals last week. It’s no secret Mathieu has had his fair share of public struggles off the field. However, Mathieu has publicly admitted to his past mistakes, noted he is now focused on what’s most important to him and is ready to start a new and healthier chapter in his life. All should be forgiven now and reflected as such in the media space, right? If only it were that easy.

In a perfect world a Draft pick would have a media relations specialist on his team consulting, developing and managing messages, but judging from what I hear, see and read (and I did attend the NFL Draft last week and its various industry events), apparently that’s still a rarity. So, here are a few free PR pearls of wisdom that every nearly-famous future NFL star (or anyone in the public eye, for that matter) should pay attention to:

  • Look before you tweet – Before tweeting anything on your personal Twitter handle, be sure all content is correct. The last thing you want is to tweet or Instagram an event invitation that contains incorrect information,  i.e. naming you in a specific draft round (if you’re not 100% certain as most aren’t) – allowing for media to run with it and note you are “over confident.” I’d discourage tweeting about any late night parties if your past public challenges involved anything that could be associated with a partying lifestyle. It’s best to only tweet about low-key events or dinners with friends and family during earlier hours of the night.
  • Hometown papers can be your heroes – The press in your hometown is likely your best source for positive coverage. Help them help you by framing out the right story, i.e. offer up a comeback piece addressing any past issues you had, show a local reporter what you’ve done lately to get ready for the draft (perhaps give them access to an early morning practice and one-on-one time with you). We likely already know your height, weight, and speed so focus on what makes you unique. Give their readers a reason to cheer you on.
  • Know who’s around you at all times – Understand that if you open your personal space to media, i.e. a Draft viewing event, it’s important you know who’s around you at all times. Setup specific times with invited media to conduct interviews, don’t let them wander aimlessly with no direction, help them frame the story. Before inviting media, take a look at what their coverage tone has been in the past to be sure you have a full understanding of how they approach their stories. I’ve seen Draft picks at events unaware of top-tier media hovering within a small radius, taking copious notes on their every move and the results were not pretty.

None of us know for sure if the after party snafu affected Mathieu’s round selection but either way, he deserves another chance and I wish him all the best!

Image courtesy of RMTip21.

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