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.
At Brandware, we help launch brands, raise brand awareness and conduct brand research. Heck, the word “brand” is even in our name, so you know we’re always thinking about how our clients’ PR and marketing campaigns impact their overall brand. Now that baseball season is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to take a few branding notes from the Big Leagues.
- Create unique brand touchpoints. Few things at Fenway Park are as memorable as the 37-foot high wall in left field. A challenging obstacle to prevent sluggers from hitting homeruns, the wall was painted green in 1947, and the beloved Green Monster was born. The trademark color was integrated into all aspects of the Fenway Park brand – from the rest of the ballpark to fan merchandise. The Red Sox even patented the color, Fenway Green. Talk about protecting a brand’s identity – if only all clients could afford to do that!
- Don’t forget your brand’s history. From the ivy-covered outfield walls at Wrigley Field to the manual scoreboard at Fenway Park, baseball franchises are rich with heritage. One of the best examples is Jackie Robinson’s retired jersey. In 1997, every single MLB team retired the number 42 jersey to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier. Find the person or thing that demonstrates your brand’s roots or core values, and celebrate it.
- Don’t waste your budget. This season, the New York Yankees will pay Alex Rodriquez more money than the Houston Astros will pay their entire team. And he may not take a single at-bat. When you’re the Yankees, you may have that type of money to blow – excuse me – spend. (In my opinion, a single player is only worth that much if he’s guaranteed to win you the World Series. Sadly, the Yankees have a 1-in-30 chance to win the championship, just like every other team.) Consider what expensive programs say about your brand. In the case of A-Rod, do you really want a costly benchwarmer as the face of your company? We’ve found that offering our clients a high-cost, medium-cost and low-cost option for each project helps determine which initiatives are worth the larger investment.
- The only thing worse than striking out is striking out looking. Just a few years ago, companies were skeptical of this new thing called social media. The brands willing to take a big swing (even if they whiffed a few times) have become pioneers and thought-leaders for other brands to emulate. The Miami Marlins are particularly adept at social media, with separate channels for their English and Spanish-speaking fans. If you sit idly and watch while other brands experiment with new and different ways to communicate their messages, you’re missing out on the opportunity to tell your brand’s story and better position it in terms of the competition.
Hopefully you’re inspired by these branding tips from the Boys of Summer. If you still fear striking out, you can always send in a pinch hitter (ahem, Brandware for example) who has more experience!
Image courtesy of PaulHorner on Flickr.
The Brandware Public Relations team recently had the pleasure of sitting down to discuss the ever-changing art (and science) of media relations with Marty Padgett, Editorial Director for High Gear Media, a vertical media company that owns and operates a number of automotive websites. The portfolio includes TheCarConnection.com, MotorAuthority.com and GreenCarReports.com. Marty explained how large, multi-site media groups like High Gear Media process pitches. While direct media contact isn’t a totally lost art (our agency still does a fair share of in-market, in-person media tours, desk-side briefings and other face-to-face initiatives), there is a lot more science involved in getting your message in front of an open ear (or set of eyes). Here’s what I learned:
- In today’s digital world, time is the new constraint, not space. Journalists have to be able to produce content quickly and efficiently, so when you’re putting together a pitch be sure not to waste their time. Keep your pitch concise and relevant – don’t bury the lead in the body of a long email.
- Today’s digital media model pays attention to SEO, and journalists now form stories around what people are currently looking for on search engines. These keywords shape the headline and first few paragraph of an article to ensure that it shows up higher on search results. In short, SEO is a science – know the keywords that are trending and find the best ones for your pitch. Pay attention to news cycles – being a daily student of who’s talking and writing about what is more important than ever.
- Know your media’s respective backgrounds and tailor your information to their level of product knowledge. Marty elaborated that a failure to communicate can result in disastrous press coverage, as it did for Tesla Motors (the much-covered Elon Musk vs. New York Times spat). The real moral of that story: research journalists before you pitch and figure out what they need to know – then make sure they have all the info (and your cell phone #) at their fingertips.
- The best-targeted, most exclusive, story pitch with the richest content potential will always win. Marty’s example of a pitch that caught his eye was for 3M Auto’s “Boot Camp 2013.” The pitch offered journalists a chance to witness the reveal of 3M’s newest technology, as well as receive hands-on experience with other automotive care products. The pitch was highly visual, to the point, provided thorough information and, most importantly, provided a unique story opportunity for journalists.
Good stories come from those invested in the subject, so journalists will always need the best information possible. The digital age hasn’t eliminated the need for a good pitch, it has simply changed the way we present it.
Image courtesy of High Gear Media.
Full disclosure: I’ve had a soft spot for Florida Gulf Coast University ever since this New York Times article chronicled the school’s eight seconds of TV fame on Selection Sunday. No, it was not enough for me to bet on the Eagles to take down second-seeded Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I wasn’t alone: before the first tip-off of the 2013 tourney, Las Vegas’ MGM Grand gave the school 2,000 – 1 odds to win it all. (In case you’re wondering, since FGCU won its first two games, those odds have improved to 40 – 1.)
Equally as impressive as being the only 15 seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16 is how the City of Fort Myers has capitalized on the team’s new nickname to gain national attention. Visit their official website and you’ll notice the “City of Palms” is now happily marketing itself as “Dunk City.” Here’s why. It’s a small detail that’s gotten big ink from the usual sports suspects like Yardbarker and SB Nation as well as Newsday and major dailies outside the Florida market from New York Post to Boston Herald.
While it’s too soon to tell how this move will translate into increased tourism for the city (or if FGCU will be cutting down the nets on April 8), it’s a good reminder of the best practices for using the news du jour to get people talking about your brand:
- Follow the news cycle (find relevant journalists/publications on Twitter or aggregate news through an online reader) to identify what’s trending.
- Evaluate if hot topics are a fit with your brand. Just because a subject is popular doesn’t mean you want to associate your company or products with it. For example, marriage equality in the Supreme Court is all over the news this week, but an issue to be avoided if you prefer to steer clear of polarizing territory.
- Determine your level of commitment. When the Harlem Shake craze hit the web last month, jumping on the bandwagon could mean simply linking to popular YouTube videos from your company Facebook page or actually spending the time to create your own version.
- Act quickly. There’s a limited window of opportunity to join the conversation, so don’t hesitate.
Photo courtesy of Matt Slocum, Associated Press