Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sports Marketing and P.R.: When Less May Be More

As you may have read in the previous post by Scott on this here blog we call "BizPizzazz," you would have heard about the amazing stir that David Beckham has kicked up since arriving on Ellis Island (or flying into LAX, whatever the case may have been). Indeed, his flair for football and celebrity status has caught the attention of millions of fans the world over. Good P.R.!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the public relations spectrum, you may have seen just a few instances of news featuring athletes misbehaving. For example:

Mike Vick: his future is now dogged by, well, you can probably surmise by now...

Latrell Sprewell: this NBA star has had numerous run-ins in the past, including his choking-the-coach adventure, but now a federal marshal has seized his $1.5 million yacht after he defaulted on his mortgage.

Adam "Pacman" Jones: he had a bit too much fun in Las Vegas, among other incidents.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, et al: juiced or legit?

Rick Tocchet: I bet you probably know what he did by now.

And so on and so forth. And let's not even get started on referees.
Bad P.R.!

So what are sports P.R. pros and marketing moguls to do with all of this negative news? P.R. folks can only apologize and downplay these messy events so often and marketers certainly can't sell and promote these unseemly players. Trying to hold these hot potatoes (read: out of control athletes) makes for a tough job.

Of course, sports marketers can always promote the athletes who are genuinely good players and good guys (Cal Ripken and Michael Jordan come to mind), and that of course is easy to do. And public relations reps can prep athletes when they're young and just entering stardom, and certainly they do indeed do that in various ways to try and prevent future problems from arising.

But when bad news does arise, the best thing anybody can do might just be to do nothing. Because as long as there are fans that are willing to shell out big bucks to watch sports, players will either be able to get away with less than morally-ideal behavior, or the ones that break the law will be swept under the rug and life goes on.

When all else fails, no P.R. might just be the best P.R.

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