by Elline Concepcion
It’s what we, as public relations practitioners, are responsible for. We deal with brands and reputations, and we know the importance of maintaining a positive one. We always have room to learn from brand management stories; this is where The Captain comes in.
Derek Jeter, The Captain of the New York Yankees, has retired from baseball after 20 years in the major leagues. Jeter has had amazing achievements throughout his career that can be summed up by the 2,734 games Jeter has played, the five World Series championship rings and the Yankee pinstripes he has been wearing since he began as a rookie. Since the beginning of this career he has kept his reputation positive and has mastered brand management. We can all learn from Jeter’s legacy.
Professionalism is at the top of the list of what Jeter has done correctly over the course of his career. He remained professional on and off the field. He kept his private life private and allowed his achievements to show his character.
Jeter’s loyalty to his team and to his fans also made his brand stronger. He was able to stay with the same team throughout his career and remained loyal to his teammates. Jeter was never one to talk about his teammates and kept their locker room conversations private.
Another important takeaway from Jeter’s brand management was the manner in which he handled his endorsements. Jeter made his endorsements subtle and made his interactions with these endorsers natural. He didn’t tweet about the brands he endorsed or carry a Gatorade bottle with him everywhere he went. Jeter allowed his career and his performance on the field to be the focus of his legacy.
Jeter was smart about how he handled interviews. He was a good listener and made sure what he said was thought out before he spoke. Jeter was respectful to other players, his team and to himself.
Most important in relation to brand management is being true to your character. This is what Jeter did. He was always natural with his fans and stayed away from the typical cocky jock persona. The Captain knew what was important to him and made sure everything he did was true to his core values.
Jeter’s ability to maintain a positive brand image for 20 years is one reason why he is remarkable. This ability has allowed him to have a positive foundation for future projects and endeavors.
by Tim Roberts, Lecturer
When it comes to brand ambassadors, National Football League fans are hard to beat. On any given fall Sunday, hordes of logo-clad, face-painted followers pay top dollar to see their wishes fulfilled or hopes dashed.
And, as any Cleveland Browns fans would agree, poor on-field performance doesn’t necessarily translate into a loss of affection. We almost instinctively keep coming back for more.
The NFL and its 32 teams have financially capitalized on that seemingly unshakeable brand loyalty, but this year a series of ethically questionable decisions and reactions to players’ criminal acts have placed league officials in full crisis management mode and caused some to call for an NFL Boycott.
While the finger-pointing over who knew what when continues in the Ray Rice-Roger Goodell saga, the lesson to be taken away is a no-brainer for any PR practitioner—tell the truth as you know it and when you know it to maintain trust and credibility.
What's in a name?
But a lesser-known transparency issue involving one NFL team can provide even more valuable ethics lessons, especially to aspiring PR pros. For several years, the Washington Redskins organization has been fending off criticism of the team name, with a growing number of groups calling it racist and offensive and demanding a name change.
Owner Dan Snyder has not budged publicly in his support for the name. Last July, a website called Redskins Facts was launched to defend the name, with former Redskins players billed as a steering committee. The About Us section portrayed the site as a grassroots effort by team supporters.
But on July 29, the online news site Slate posted a well-researched article linking the site to the Redskins and Burson-Marstellar, a public relations agency known for its crisis management work. The authors tracked the site’s source code to a Burson-Marstellar site, and, in addition, their reporting revealed the Redskins Facts site had the look and feel of other Burson-Marstellar crisis management site templates. A team spokesman danced around the question whether the Redskins was involved with the site and Burson-Marstellar did not even respond to Slate.
After the story appeared, however, both Burson-Marstellar and the Redskins acknowledged their involvement in a Reuters article published July 30, with the agency saying through a spokesman it was representing the Redskins.
While astroturfing may be too strong of a word considering both the team and the agency acknowledged their roles after the Slate article appeared, the initial lack of transparency and fudging by the Redskins and especially Burson-Marstellar is disturbing.
It’s easy to criticize the agency for not being open with Slate about its involvement with the team and the website, as well as not insisting the Redskins make clear on the site its relationship. The Disclosure of Information section in the PRSA Code of Ethics covers that ethical misstep with clarity.
What does this mean for PR ethics?
As PR practitioners, we advocate for our organizations and clients. But we also are supposed to provide wise, ethical, and informed counsel.
Both ethically and strategically, the Burson-Marstellar agency didn’t do the job. Research is the alpha and omega of public relations, and the agency should have insisted on conducting objective, scientific and targeted research to gauge what Redskins’ fans think of the name and the controversy. (The Redskins Facts site does link to ESPN and Washington Post polls showing a plurality of support for the name.)
If the research was in line with the other polls and showed fans supported the current name or were apathetic about it, the agency would be obligated to report that. Then, it should take the ethical high road and insist the team be transparent about who was responsible for the website.
If the team resisted, it would be appropriate for Burson-Marstellar to turn down the website assignment. It wouldn’t be the only agency that ever “fired” a client over ethical issues.
PR pros need to start taking ethical inventories of themselves, their organizations, and their clients. And when they do so, they need to remember the old adage, “When you lay down with dogs, you get fleas.”
by Caitlin Potts
Publicist and business entrepreneur Nicole Garner knows a thing or two about managing a client in the limelight. She also understands the desires and mindsets of aspiring publicists. At the 2013 PRSSA National Conference, Garner was gracious enough to conduct a workshop titled F.A.M.E. (Fashion, Art, Music and Entertainment) PR. I was one of the many excited attendees who filled the room from wall to wall.
Although transitioning from college to the F.A.M.E. industries can be a big leap, Garner said the fundamentals still apply.
• Understand your audience. What are they saying? What are they demanding?
• Continue to improve your writing skills through experience.
• Release content that is relevant. Don’t just talk to say something to the public; have a purpose.
While the fame can be a broad topic in the PR industry, Garner broke her presentation down by categories.
The fashion industry has five main publishers: Conde Nast, Hachette Filipacchi Media, Hearst, Fairchild and Time Inc. The editors normally work on a three-month lead time - the time it takes to gather content - for their national fashion publications. Weekly or daily issues require two weeks to a month of lead time. PR professionals must be mindful of these deadlines when pitching to fashion publications.
Garner said that PR professionals need to find positive and creative ways to gain media attention for their arts clients. She offered these four tips for media relations and publicity:
Garner said that publicity professionals must make it easy for the media to have access to their client’s information. It’s up to you to tell the musician’s story and explain why it’s so important for the world to hear their music. The more compelling your story is, the greater the chance of media coverage.
The music audience is huge on social media, and providing information for them is very important. Garner recommends creating and posting on your client’s official social media outlets the second something newsworthy happens. Additionally, Garner said that up-and-coming artists should blog to create buzz by featuring samples of new tracks, writing about upcoming concerts, providing incite on recording sessions and more.
In the entertainment portion of her presentation, Garner focused primarily on red carpet events. Photographers should be thought of first when planning a red carpet event, Garner said.She recommended that professionals create tip sheets for photographers attending red carpet events they help plan. These tip sheets include a photo of each celebrity in attendance, along with his or her latest or most notable credit.
For more information about Nicole Garner and her book Are You In? Inc., follow her on Twitter @TheGarnerCircle and visit her website, AreYouInInc.com.