Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: The Wide World of Sports PR

October is a great time to be a sports fan. Football is hitting its mid-season stride, with professional and college games increasing in importance each week. Hockey and basketball seasons are finally underway. Also in October, the long, marathon-length baseball season culminates with the World Series. While it’s a fun time to be a sports fan, it’s also a challenging and compelling time to work in sports communications.

Friday Five LogoIn this week’s Friday Five – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we’ll share five major stories from the sports world from a public relations perspective. We’ll look at Chevrolet’s World Series promotion, a football PR professional making national headlines (again), a basketball organization harnessing Michael Jordan’s star power and a trip up during the World Series that resulted in positive publicity for Chevy.  We’ll also discuss how Marshall University is using a PR firm to help solidify a football playoff berth.

How Mo’ne Davis Won the World Series for Chevrolet (PR Newser)

“I throw 70 miles per hour – that’s throwing like a girl,” boasts Mo’ne Davis in Chevrolet’s compelling World Series ad. William Nikosey, senior account director at kwittken+company and guest blogger for PR Newser acknowledges that the World Series isn’t known for its big budget commercials like the Super Bowl, yet he explains how Chevy’s commercial had a similar impact (without the price tag) due to the fact that it spurred a national conversation.

Davis took America by storm this year and became a household name when she (a 13-year old female) dominated the Little League World Series with her pitching. Nikosey argues that this commercial is even more compelling than Oreo’s real-time marketing antics during the Superbowl, saying, “Chevy, on the other hand, put on a clinic this week by both showing us that there is more than one way to extend the shelf life of an ad past 30 or 60 seconds and, if you’re lucky, a few million YouTube views and demonstrating how the right paid media can quickly facilitate an earned media conversation.”

Read the full article and watch the captivating commercial on PR Newser.

Redskins PR official to reporter: ‘No means no’ (Washington Post)

It is an understatement to say that the Washington Redskins have had their fair share of negative press this year. With football announcers refusing to use the team’s name on air, Congress debating the team’s branding and national attention on the team’s owner, one would think that the Redskins leadership would embrace positive coverage, not dissuade it.

Following the stunning defeat of the Dallas Cowboys, it wasn’t the quarterback who made the morning headlines; instead it was Tony Wyllie, Washington’s senior vice president of communications. While a reporter for ESPN Deportes tried to interview Colt McCoy on the field after the game, Wyllie was captured screaming “No means NO!” at the reporter before ushering the player off the field.

What would you do in Wyllie’s situation? See the video and read more about the incident via the Washington Post.

Michael Jordan’s social media buzz (ESPN)

Michael Jordan has serious brand power and sports fans young and old worship (arguably) the best basketball player to ever hit the court. Now, as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan is once again harnessing his popularity. This time via social media – a medium that didn’t even exist when he was playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls.

Jordan took over his team’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram account on opening day using the hashtag #MJTakeover. Without question, these mundane posts immediately went viral, not only with Hornets fans but with the entire sports community. Visit ESPN.com to see some of Jordan’s more popular posts and let us know what you think about this stunt in the comments section below.

GM should thank #ChevyGuy for awkward speech (Detroit Free Press)

With the World Series being decided in a seventh game by one run, you would think that social media would be abuzz about the play of the small market Kansas City Royals or the repeat-champions San Francisco Giants. Yet all anyone seemed to be talking about was the #ChevyGuy, Chevrolet executive Rikk Wilde, who nervously presented Madison Bumgarner with the MVP award.

The nervous exec touted Chevy’s use of “technology and stuff” in new models as television crews quickly cut to images of the car to save the brand from further embarrassment. However, according to Detroit Free Press reporters Greg Gardner and Alisa Priddle, Wilde may have helped the brand: “…in fact he appears to have garnered millions in free publicity for the Chevrolet brand which has received at least $2.4 million in media exposure from the unconventional presentation, according to Front Row Analytics. Bloomberg reports that is six times more than the $392,000 it would have brought in with a more polished performance.”

Read the full article via the Detroit Free Press.

Marshall hires PR firm to help with possible College Football Playoff berth (NBC Sports)

Can hiring a public relations firm help a college football team achieve a playoff berth? Marshall University seems to think so. In a quest to be selected for the first College Football Playoff, the University has hired an LA-based public relations firm, Brener Zwikel & Associates. Though the team is undefeated with a 7-0 record, it is still ranked 23rd and must be within the top four teams in order to qualify.

Will this work? NBC Sports Brent Sobleski offers his opinion: “While it’s unlikely a strong public relations effort will be enough to push the Thundering Herd into this year’s College Football Playoff, the hire won’t be for naught. Marshall still trails the No. 18 East Carolina Pirates as the top program not affiliated with a Power Five conference. The highest-rated team outside of the Power Five automatically receives a bid to one of the remaining contract bowls.”

Learn more about Marshall University’s quest for the playoffs via the full article.

Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America.

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