Football is a game of passion, for fans and for players. It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It gets many of us more emotional than you could ever imagine. Just ask my wife how I was during the last two New York Giants Super Bowl wins.
In public relations, we have to look out for our clients. It doesn’t matter if you are the public relations manager for an agency or sports team. You keep an eye on how your client (or team) is viewed in public, by fans and the media, and online (social, web, etc.).
Last week, the San Diego Chargers played the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The Chargers had a big lead in the game, only to see it slip away with the Broncos winning in dramatic fashion, 35-24. San Diego is always one of the teams to be in the “contender” conversation before the season begins. Well, count the Chargers director of PR, Bill Johnston, as one of the guys who believes his team is still a contender.
Three days after the loss, Johnston took to the Chargers’ website and wrote a post titled, “Take a Chill Pill.” Here’s some of what Mr. Johnston said:
“What’s with you people?
Yes, Monday night’s loss was bad. Horrible. Embarrassing.
Ok…enough already. No mas. I get it.
Now get over it. It was a loss. One loss.”
“Time to take a chill pill. No one knows what will happen this season, yet alone the next game. That’s the beauty of the National Football League. I don’t know, you don’t know, no one knows what’s going to happen.”
Well, the reaction to the post wasn’t exactly positive. When a colleague shared the post, I tried to think what would drive the Chargers director of PR to write this? I mean, this isn’t really good practice. If I came out and defended a client after they totally botched something, I’d be seen as crass and probably have the PR world not thinking I was sane.
I understand fully that sports PR is a tad different that me representing a client as a PR consultant. But, I also understand that you don’t necessarily want your PR director to be popping off on the team’s website and telling the fan base to “chill.” The fans of the Chargers weren’t too happy with it… and I don’t blame them.
It’s very easy to Monday Morning QB (no pun intended) something like this. Would I write a column like that after a tough loss? No way. Calling out your fans, many of whom are season ticket holders and have been through the ups and downs, isn’t a good idea. It’s also something that makes for an even bigger PR nightmare… something Mr. Johnston had to deal with. He became the story, which you NEVER want to be as a PR pro.
Now, since the original post, Mr. Johnston wrote a follow-up, apologizing for his words. A very good idea, but, as we all know in today’s social and immediate news world, the damage is already done. Of course, if the Chargers go on to win the Super Bowl, this will (probably) be a small bump.
But, either way, take a lesson. Think before you upload that next blog or hit send on that tweet or Facebook post. It could be the big difference between you being embarrassed.
How news and sports are reported has changed by leaps and bounds. I’m old enough to remember when I relied on the newspaper to get updates on my favorite teams. ESPN and CNN changed the way sports and news were covered, respectively.
Fast forward to 2012 and if you want to get scores, highlights, stats, or breaking news, you can get in on your phone. Ralph Vacchiano knows all about the evolution of sports reporting. He’s living it.
Vacchiano is the New York Giants beat writer for the New York Daily News. He’s also the author of the book, “Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback,” which is available at Amazon. It’s also available at Barnes & Noble, with an update for the Giants Super Bowl run.
Here’s my interview with Ralph, where we discuss sports journalism, covering a Super Bowl champion, and social media.
Tags: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CNN, Eli Manning, football, Jason Mollica, journalism degree, new york daily news, New York Giants, NFL, NY Daily News, Ralph Vacchiano, Social Media, Sports, sports journalism, Sulia, Super Bowl, Syracuse University, Twitter
Whether you are a professional sports coach or a public relations pro, you need to plan. There are so many similarities between the two. Today’s Monday Minute explains why.
How do you game plan for success? Let me know in the comments.
Over the last few days I’ve had some great conversations with Mike Schaffer (@MikeSchaffer), Matt LaCasse (@MattLaCasse) Matt Hannaford (@AXP112) and Colin Pennington (@ColinJP) about Tiger Woods and, now, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber’s infidelities. We also touched on whether Sandra Bullock knew about Jesse James’ lifestyle choices, but that’s another discussion for another blog (believe me, I wouldn’t have enough space to write).
A thought I’ve had since Tiger’s story hit the news was reinforced when I read about Barber’s alleged hook-up. Think about this: At home athletes like Tiger and Tiki aren’t “champion golfer” Tiger Woods or “Giants great” Tiki Barber. They are Dad, husband and “normal” person. They aren’t being cheered by a course or stadium full of fans or told they are the greatest by autograph seekers at home. They (hopefully) change the diapers, take the kids to school, and treat their wives with respect for the hard work they put in while they are at work.
This isn’t the case though. For Tiger and Tiki, they apparently need the adulation of continuing to be known as golfing great and legendary New York Giant. If Tiger was just another guy, there is no way he’s hooking up with a porn star. He probably wouldn’t have been able to hide all the dalliances either.
Tiki Barber, if you read the reports in New York Post, has been doting on his gal pal for some time, allegedly lavishing her with gifts. The young girl clearly sees his for what he is: a former football player-turned-television commentator who still makes a considerable amount of money. He is viewed as a celebrity and his new gal is dating someone famous.
The bottom line? From my vantage point, these types of athletes need the spotlight 24-hours a day. They apparently can’t slip back into the family life after the competition is over. They need the rush of being cheered and lauded. The endorsement money doesn’t hurt either. For these guys, though, they need the cheers and praise not received at home. Why not get someone else to give them what they so deeply crave?
What do you think? Am I dead wrong or on to something?