Category Archives: Sports

Quick Hit: The Players Tribune… brilliant or sportswriter’s nightmare?

Derek Jeter’s blue Jumpman cleats haven’t even be cleaned off and he’s got the next phase of his life lined up. Much like his preparation for a baseball season, Jeter was ready for retirement and what lies in front of him. Earlier this week, the now former Yankee captain rolled out “The Players Tribune,” a site where athletes can directly connect with fans, unfiltered, and beyond 140 characters.

Jeter has already recruited Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson as a senior editor. Wilson’s first post was heartfelt and honest. However, the site hasn’t been met with the same aura that Jeter carried during his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career.

After being lauded for his humbleness, work ethic, and respect for the game, Jeter is now being criticized by the same peoplethe-players-tribune for lauded him over his playing career. Why? Some sportswriters are cranky because they feel their jobs are being done for them. Really? Last I checked you can still interview these players before and after games, practices, and sometimes at public appearances.

There will always be a need for sportswriters. However, some of them were the same ones that complained about blogging a while back. Now, they are using for story supplements, first-hand reporting, and live blogging. You will not see papers laying off sportswriters because Derek Jeter has started a website.

At the end of the day, we, as sports fans, would love to learn more about our favorite players. Do I need to know about their personal lives? Not really, unless they’ve been bad (ahem, Ray Rice). I do look forward to learning more about how they’ll make an impact while playing or after their career.

Besides, I’d rather hear what Derek Jeter has to say over ESPN’s Keith Olbermann any day.

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The NFL’s Ray Rice Problem

Sept. 8-UPDATE: Ray Rice had his contract terminated by the Ravens and was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The NFL released the news on Twitter, however the commissioner still has not commented, which continues to speak volumes. What is written below still stands: The NFL still has a problem.

By now, you have most likely heard about the infamous tape of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiance. It was an absolutely disgusting scene and horrendous thing to do to someone you apparently care about. The National Football League, after viewing the tape, suspended Rice for two games, which came under intense criticism from fans and activists alike. Then, on Sept. 8, TMZ Sports released another, more graphic video which showed how brutal the beating Rice put on the woman who is now his wife.

The NFL created a public relations issue by only giving Rice a two-game ban for this assault. It now has a bigger issue because it appears the league had seen the more brutal video, but denied it initially. The problem is three-fold for the league, the Ravens, and Rice.

  1. The NFL handed down a light suspension to someone who knocked a woman out.
  2. The Ravens and their owner stood in support of Rice at a May press conference.
  3. Ray Rice’s first “apology” was not very heartfelt, saying “I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in.” Hitting Ray-Rice-Court.finalyour now-wife isn’t a situation, it’s an attack. The second wasn’t much better.

Rice is not the first athlete to hit a woman and he won’t be the last, sadly. But, in this day of social media and outlets looking deeper into news, videos like the one mentioned in the first paragraph will be more prevalent. Look how quickly the Jay Z/Solange Knowles video spread like wildfire.

The NFL opened its season on Sept. 4 with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks defeating the Green Bay Packers and then had a Sunday stacked with games. Many of them were really exciting. The league was hoping it would have the focus on the two Monday Night Football games, one featuring the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. Those games will not be the focus. The focus is going to be on the more brutal video of Rice and what the league hasn’t done.

If the NFL wants to repair their image as one that looks lightly on domestic violence, they need to act now and suspend Rice for the season. They were tough on Ben Roethlisberger after he was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia woman in 2010. Those charges were eventually not filed and he was suspended, ultimately, for four games.

Here’s what Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to the Steelers’ QB after Roethlisberger was not charged:

“I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”

“You are held to a higher standard as an NFL player…” The Commissioner should go back and read those words again, because Ray Rice wasn’t held to a higher standard. The NFL and its leadership are faced with fans in an uproar over a lenient suspension. The next step could be sponsors pulling their money and even NFL players criticizing the league.

The NFL needs to act, for morality’s sake, and for their image.

 

Hustle Series: Darren Meenan and The 7 Line

You’ve all heard a story that intimates that a successful business that once started in “the basement of their home.” In the case of Darren Meenan, this isn’t a stretch. It’s fact. What started with Darren, a huge New York Mets fan, wearing a simple t-shirt he made that stated “I Survived” in 2009, ended up becoming the wildly successful, “The 7 Line.”

Meenan didn’t just settle on the fact a number of people asked about that one shirt. He sensed an opportunity and created his hustle. It began with equipment he bought on eBay and he created a few shirts in his parent’s basement. Since Mets fans (myself included) haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2006, Darren used these t-shirts to echo fans sentiment. One design said, “I Was Born into This Mess.” What Mets fan doesn’t feel that way sometimes? As 2009 turned into 2010, his hustle and entrepreneurial spirit began to pay off.

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

By wearing newer designs to Citi Field, the word began to spread about The 7 Line and Darren’s quality of work. It also didn’t hurt that he worked hard to spread the word, as well. Darren held signs with his website around the ballpark, some of which showed up on TV. More shirts, more exposure equals needing more space. So, Darren moved into a warehouse not too far from the ballpark.

While Darren’s story sounds like it happened overnight, it didn’t. He needed to work hard to conceptualize, print, and distribute everything with little help. His hustle has been featured on, among others, CNN Money and in the New York Times. Oh, and a little show called “30 Rock” featured Darren’s shirts, by request from the producers.

Darren has even been able to get the support from Mets’ players. A few years back, he traveled to spring training a gave a bunch to hand out in the clubhouse. Now, that’s hustle (and smart marketing, too). Mets players loved them and can be seen wearing the shirts before and after games.

Despite the Mets struggles, you’ll never hear a negative word from Darren. While fans may be frustrated, his hustle has helped create a new faction of fans. He thought it would be a great idea for Mets diehards to sit together, cheer on and support the team. “The 7 Line Army” was born. That one game spawned into the army not just going to games at Citi Field, but Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Francisco to name a few.

Darren’s ability to bring fans together with his infectious attitude and excitement is a testament to dedication, hard work, and a never-ending hustle. See, Darren loves what he does because he works hard at it. He doesn’t cut corners. No one who hustles the right way does that. The Mets even noticed and The 7 Line now has a kiosk at Citi Field and is a licensed Major League Baseball brand.

What’s next? Darren has mentioned in interviews and on Twitter that he wants to open a bar one day next to Citi Field. If his hustle with The 7 Line is any indication, the bar will be a huge hit.

What My Media Career Taught Me

Long before the thought of being a public relations pro entered my mind, I had one dream: To work in television and radio.  When I started as a member of the media, the landscape was very different. The internet was fairly new. Smartphones? Not very smart. You were lucky enough to not have a call drop. Pagers were still the rage and you could get news and sports updates on them, just not very quickly.

What hasn’t changed, though, are the traits that (still) make a good reporter, producer, and anchor. Trust, reliability, tenacity, and focus. These same traits can be seen in the best PR and marketing pros and social media community managers.

The great thing about having started my career in radio and television is that it set me up for success in PR. I truly believe I would not be where I am today without those experiences. There were three stories that really helped shape my then-future PR career.

“How about we start over?”– I was lucky enough to do field producing during my time in Philadelphia, especially when it came to hockey. I love the sport, so walking into the Philadelphia Flyers locker room was always a thrill and honor. Eric Lindros was one of the top players in the NHL and I interviewed him many times. One afternoon after practice, I was asking him some questions and we both stumbled through a few questions and answers. He politely stopped me, laughed, and said, “How about we start over from the beginning. We both aren’t having a good day!” The overarching thing this taught me was that we aren’t always on our game… and that’s ok. Show people that you are putting forth a Media scrumhonest effort and they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Breaking News- When you work in the media, you need to be prepared for everything. During my time at Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio, it was integral to be ready at a moments notice. When the first missile was fired into Iraq in March of 2003, we had to switch our focus from the regular news of the day, within seconds. You always need to be ready for anything. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This is true in today’s PR and social media world. Don’t have a plan for your social media launch? Odds are it won’t be successful.

First and wrong, last and right- I’ve lived by these words for a long time. Princess Diana died a few hours after I left my shift in Philadelphia with “MSNBC on the Internet.” However, the news was still trickling out that she was only badly injured in a car accident.  Since we were a newer operation, I decided to go back into the office and update our web story. I was there for a few hours and there were unconfirmed reports that Diana had died. We could have run with that, but I didn’t want to see our new operation be caught in a credibility trap. Finally (and regretfully), NBC News confirmed that Princess Diana had died. I had gathered all the details from what we knew and confirmed, then published our story to the Philadelphia page. At the end of the day, if Diana had lived and we posted she was dead, it would have looked bad for us and our station. There is nothing more important that being accurate, especially in PR.

When I finally made the transition from television and radio into public relations, I felt that I was well-prepared for anything. Planning, focus, accuracy, and calm; these are all things that PR pros must have to be great at what we do. And if it wasn’t for working in the media, I know that I wouldn’t have the perspective that I do today.

The JourneyCast: Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com

Today is a really exciting day for me as a blogger and a professional. I’m officially launching my podcast, “The JourneyCast.” I’ll be talking with those people in (and out of) our industry, who are making a difference, doing impactful work, or people you should know more about.

This week, I’m thrilled to talk with Matthew Cerrone, founder and editor of MetsBlog.com, the best blog about the New York Mets and one of the preeminent sports bloggers in the nation. I’ve known Matt for a number of years now and was even lucky enough to be a small part of Metsblog in 2006. Matt has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and is a great example of what can happen if you have a passion to see something through. You can also check out Matt’s latest project at MatthewCerrone.com.

The JourneyCast: Guest- Matthew Cerrone

Don’t forget to leave your comments about the podcast below.

How Jackie Robinson Inspired Me

jackie-robinson-brooklyn-dodgersIt has been 66 years since the great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although I never saw Jackie play, he impacted me from the time I was very young. My parents bought me a children’s story, called “The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson.” I read it over and over again. A poster of Robinson adorned my room as a teen, as a reminder of this courage.

I never experienced an ounce of what Jackie went through, yet I have always been drawn to the way he carried himself during turbulent times. He never fought back and let his actions, on and off the field, do the talking. I think about Jackie a lot when times are tough and even when they are great. Here are a few ways that he has inspired me.

  • Tenacity- Despite great odds and constant scrutiny, Jackie never backed down. This is a great lesson, regardless of race, how we can stand up for what we believe. If you believe in your heart of hearts that you can do something, go with confidence and do it!
  • Work Ethic- Jackie never settled. He continued to improve his game and push himself to be the best he could be.
  • Pride- Jackie knew he couldn’t necessarily fight back against those who hurled racial slurs or threw an intentional fast ball at his head. He pressed forward and got stronger. The lesson here: No matter what the odds, YOU have the power to be in control.
  • Courage- Jackie could have given up at any time. He didn’t… despite what seemed like insurmountable odds. Think about your toughest time… how did you handle it? While starting your own business may not seem at the level of courage of what Jackie did, it still takes a ton to step out on your own.

Jackie Robinson was much more than a baseball player. He was a symbol of hope, dedication and pride. It’s something we can still embrace and learn from today.

(photo courtesy of MLB)

Monday Minute- Opening Day

“I’ve got a beat up glove… a homemade bat… and a brand new pair of shoes. I think it’s time to give this game a ride!”- Centerfield, John Fogerty.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year, OPENING DAY! Everyone is perfect to start… including the New York Mets. But how can Opening Day related to you as a PR or social media pro. I’ve got answers in today’s Monday Minute.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Winning in sports… winning in business

I’m a huge sports fan and find tons of inspiration from coaches and players that show great leadership qualities. There’s Mark Messier, Herb Brooks, Derek Jeter… the list goes on. Tom Coughlin is another person that leads by example with words and actions. The two-time Super Bowl winning coach of the New York Football Giants released his new book on March 5, titled “Earn the Right to Win.”

As a person that subscribes to being a “student always” (thanks to Stephanie Florence for that), I began reading the book, which is like a manual of how to prepare for and achieve success, based on Coach Coughlin’s decades of coaching experience. The great thing is that it can be applied to your business as well.

As you all may know, I am a big Giants backer. However, when I’m looking to improve myself, team loyalty doesn’t matter. Coach Coughlin’s book can really teach you something about how to better yourself and be successful. It’s the first book that I highlighted sentences and points as I was reading (thanks Nook!).

Tom CoughlinHere are a few things I’ve taken from Coughlin.

Create a Structure- Without this, how will you ever begin to succeed? You need structure in your life and business. Any successful entity has set a foundation for future success. This starts with hiring the right people or working with the right clients that are interested in achieving the same goals. Speaking of goals…

Set a Goal or Goals- Coughlin says, “Achieving any goal begins with thorough preparation.” He’s spot on. When we are trying to win a client or project, we can not just give a half-hearted effort. If you are trying to set a goal of having three full-time clients by the end of 2013, then prepare to give it all you’ve got. Show a potential (or current client) you are willing to go above and beyond your retainer.

Go All In- Tom Coughlin learned a life lesson from his father after a loss in a high school football game. “If your going to do something, do it to the best of your ability- or don’t waste your time.” That is the same way we should be as we conduct ourselves as solo professionals or in an agency/firm setting. Give that client project all you’ve got. If you don’t get the client, at least you know that you did everything possible. If you don’t, you’ll always wish you could have done more.

Go with Confidence- This is something I subscribe to as a business owner. Coughlin’s point here is the more confidence you have in yourself and your preparation, the better you will perform. That, in turn, will help your confidence in your own ways and abilities. Don’t doubt, BELIEVE!

All four of these tips can go a very long way in helping you earn the right to win. I recommend Coach Coughlin’s book for new and current pros who want to be- or continue to be- a success. I read the book in one night and since it is on my Nook, I’ll be carrying it with me for inspiration and wisdom for years to come.

Tuesday Tip: Repairing the NHL Brand

The NHL is back, but it has a ton of work to do in repairing the damage done from its most recent player lockout. How could they start to fix a brand that now needs serious repair? I’ve got some suggestions.

 

 

Let me know your thoughts and what YOU would do, as a hockey fan, to help the NHL repair the damage.

Should a PR pro tell others to “chill?”

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.