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Author Archives: austinclark1

Repairing the Stomp

Ndamukong Suh… dirty player or ferocious competitor?

His recent stomping act has the league ablaze with opinionated banter. He’s been accused of being dirty on several occasions before. This one, however, was pretty gosh darn outright. Suh’s play-style is corrupting his image in the NFL and in the public.

In watching Suh play this year, it is quite apparent that he’s just a fairly dirty player. What I want to know, is how an agent or publicist would go about maintaining Suh’s image. He’s apologized, which has been shown on television before, but I don’t think that doing this multiple times will have the same effect as if he were to do this but once. 

The question is, then, how can you repair an image that is constantly corrupting itself? My answer? You don’t.

You can only patch up images and personal brand for so long before all of that nasty stuff becomes the actual brand. Only a change in Suh’s persona can do this. Highlight the change and what responsibility he has taken ahold of, and you can begin to save his personal brand.

Restoring an Image

My friends. There. Will. Be. A. Season.

There are, of course, downsides. The first, being the crazy signing-period and the absolutely brutal schedule. The second, repairing a possibly tattered image and restoring a fan base.

The fan base might be the most difficult to restore. not the passionate ones, though. The ones that were planning on hopping on the NBA train. The ones who were getting into the sport. But Stern and Hunter had to go and screw that up.

How does one get them interested again? I can honestly not answer this one fully. I have some ideas, though.

The answer lies in NBA league pass. It is a television subscription that enables the viewer to watch each and every game possible. Give people a free week. Allow them to soak up as much NBA as possible and get a feel for the league. They get into it, and you might get some extra subscribers.


With mobile becoming the new platform, thinking of how it will affect sports sparks quite a few emotions within my tumultuous core– horrified, happy, sad… stoked?

Stoked. That’s the one.

How often do you have your computer open and by your side during a given day. Now, how often do you have your phone by your side and open in a given day? My phone is my bud. If it weren’t for that little fellow, I would find myself bored, uninformed, and making way too much bored/accidental eye contact.

One sports organization is doing it right.

It’s the way I stay informed. I view Bleacher Report and Blazersedge in my phone way more than on my computer. Plus, my phone is on me all day.

If you have a sports team, you need to have a mobile app. It is the fastest way of sharing and distributing information.

Penn State Fails

Penn State has, apparently, had a social media plan for getting thought their most recent crisis. It hasn’t scored all that well.

I agree, however, with one aspect of this article quite strongly: letting people grieve and express their anger, and giving them a place to do so. Suppressing communication, especially within a community never works. It’s like trying to put a top on a boiling pot. You’ll just get burned, and everything will get out anyway.

Allowing people to grieve in such crisis situations will provide an outlet for this anger and outrage. It’ll make it subside far swifter than trying to stifle such communication.

One thing that they have not done, must happen far sooner than later. The article mentions this, and I agree. Big time. They need to step up and recognize everyone’s collective suffering. They need to acknowledge the sorrow and anger of the public in general, and it needs to personally come from Penn State’s top administration. After that, the true rebuilding will be able to begin.

Penn State Get’s Help…

Penn State asked for help. Will the help actually help? Meh.

I’m honestly not so sure that you can repair such a brutally assaulted organization in a swift manner. What I do think that Ketchum can do, however, is streamline and funnel communications to avoid any distortion of messages and circumstance. They can release information in a timely manner and provide advice on what, exactly, Penn State should do to avoid any further scrutiny. They’re not going to be able to get any sponsors back. They won’t instantaneously help repair the image.

This is going to be a long process of repairing public perception of Penn State. There cannot be immediate turnaround. This simply hits too hard on American culture.

What do they need to do? In my opinion, control the timing and rate at which information is released. They need to talk to victims and advise Penn State leadership in resignations and new hires. Advise Penn State in philanthropic donations.  What shouldn’t they do? They should avoid rebranding Penn State at all costs. This doesn’t need a rebranding, just incredibly close supervision and management.

Good luck, Ketchum. You’ll need it.

External Team Identity

One aspect of sports never ceases to enthrall me in sports, is the meticulous process of crafting an external team identity. By external, I mean the identity that the fans associate with.

Let’s take a look at a few examples, shall we?

The Portland Trailblazers, until recently, have built an identity around youth, and the development of a serious team. Their campaign, which used this identity as a great strength in selling tickets. Their campaign was based around the newly crafted verb, “Uprise.”

This was the team identity, what fans associated with. A young team, sparking a revolution within the NBA.

Let’s take a look at another team, the Portland Timbers — another team on the rise. They did something truly grand to gain support for their team. They included locals in their ads. Timbers Army has developed as a major part of Portland soccer culture. It’s something started by fans and denizens of Portland. This close-to-home identity is what the Timbers have thrived on, and why fans associate with them.

The bottom line is selling tickets. You gotta provide fans with something they like — something they can identify with. That is the external construction of a team identity.


Joe’s Woes

Penn State is drowning in the worst crisis to ever hit college sports. Ever. This is beyond giving benefits to a player. It’s beyond illegal recruiting. Honestly, you couldn’t write a worse fate for Penn State right now, and to top it all off, Joe Paterno has lung cancer.

This summer, I worked in a firm that handled personal publicity for some extremely high-profile actors. This incident with Penn State has made me think about how Joe’s personal image could be repaired. Everyone has talked about repairing Penn State. No one, however, has talked about how to repair Paterno’s image.

He is tied for the most games coached in NCAA football. He’s one of the most revered coaches, period. Yet, despite all of his accomplishments, and despite of his legendary tale, Paterno is in jeopardy of losing his sterling image.

The perfect example of leaving one year too early, or staying one year too late. 

My question is, how can one preserve Paterno’s image as a legendary football coach, and not the man who looked the other way?

I, honestly, can not answer this fully.

What do I think could help? A very lengthy and fairly complex PR plan, of course. I do think that penning a biography would be the jewel to the plan. Slightly unorthodox, but this would help, and I’ll tell you why.

People still don’t know what Paterno did in this matter. Many believe that he just looked the other way. People need to know exactly what happened. They need to be personally told what happened. What is more intimate than a scenario where they be alone, and be told directly what happened in a book? This is as close as it’s gonna get for people wanting to hear from Paterno, and the safest way for Penn State and Paterno to get their message across without third-party distortion.


Go read PRBreakfastclub’s post on the NBA’s communication woes, and then read this.

I am a L*ker hating, Roy loving, Rip City fanatic. I love the game of basketball. I am enthralled by the athleticism and competitive spirit involved in playing such as sport. I am absolutely, totally in love with basketball. I am absolutely in love with the Portland Trailblazers. Until this year, I was, for the most part, in love with the NBA.

Ah, how the milk spoils.

I never thought I’d be a football fan. I never thought that I would find myself enjoying the same sport as Raiders fans, and reveling in the passionate fervor that is NFL fandom.

Most importantly, I never thought that I would come to resent the NBA.

This is the way most fans of the NBA are feeling. When I talk to my peers about what the league, there has always been some angsty thoughts about what the NBA had become, with rumors of corrupted officials, a commissioner only concerned with the profitability and globalization of the league as a business, but never would I have thought die hard fans, people who love basketball to the core, would begin to turn their backs on the NBA.

I never had thought that when, and if, the league is ever broadcasted again, these fans would boycott the NBA.

Frankly, I am disgusted by owners and players alike. The way that this has been handled has been beyond childish.

Okay, my rantings are  nearly complete.

What the NBA and players need is to strategically communicate to the fans that they are trying to work something out. That they aren’t just being a bunch of greedy children that they really do care about the economic effects that this is causing, or the people that this is truly hurting.

Complaining or acting like victims on Twitter will not win any sympathies. What each side needs to do, is keep fans completely updated with information from their sides. They need to keep shareholders and stakeholders informed instead of inflaming them. Only by being transparent and willing to discuss, and provide information, will the NBA be able to retain a fan base.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a football fan now.

Media and Scrutiny

This, my friends, is a pretty smooth idea. 

General managers of sports teams need to be the total package. They need to coordinate with higher-ups, coaches, players, have knowledge and skill of the game as well as business strategies, and more. One skill that they must have, however, is the ability to effectively communicate with the media.

As a general manager, you are the window. What you say and portray is what a fan base, league, state, world, and business think about you and your organization. Communication is, arguably, the greatest skill a GM could possess.

Like Chip Griffin said in the hyperlink above, GMs are exposed to a brutal media environment, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I remember the days of the Kevin Pritchard controversy. Some, including myself, hailed Pritchard as the future of the Traiblazers. He was charismatic, confident, knowledgeable, and knew how to massage the media. The problem is, however, even if you know how to speak and work the media, they will still find something to attack you about.

John Canzano, the Oregonian’s sports guy, would one day praise Pritchard and the next, completely tear him apart.

So, having the media perform the interviews for you? Brilliant. See how your candidates hold up against the scrutiny of the media. If they don’t, they can’t have a place in your organization. If they do, move them on to the second round of interviews.



Cult Concept

This is the Cult Concept:

There is one thing that never ceases to fascinate me about sports. It’s not the superhumans dominating the field, nor the miracle moments, nor the megastructures that house them.

It’s the fans. More specifically, it’s how an organization is able to construct such a brilliant community that will tirelessly follow their team to the end of the Earth. There are very few settings where people follow an entity or organization so vehemently. I want to know how these followings are built, and I swear, the answer to all effective advertising and public relations lies within this subject.

I’ll use the Portland Traiblazers as an example, a team very close to my heart. The organization’s administration is not bad by any means, especially when compared to others. For the most part, we simply fall victim to the worst luck this side of the Mississippi.

But when you look at Rip City fans in relation to the actions of their administration, it’s astounding that we Blazer fans are so in love with our team. We’ve gone through GMs like Rex Ryan goes through crab at a crab feed. We’ve endured the Jail Blazers era. We’ve suffered a first-round draft pick bust. Twice. We’ve missed out on both Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant. If you don’t know who those two are, don’t ever read this blog again.

In spite of all this dark misfortune and luck, we are still the best fans in the NBA. That’s not a point to be argued.

Any CEO, ad or PR person who has the time and money should be painstakingly researching this phenomenon. People follow these organizations with extreme passion on a consistent, daily basis, however, nothing is really at stake. Even if the organization treats their fans like dirt, even if the organization is in crumbling disrepair, people will latch to your cause, so long as it is to create a fantastic sports team. Only social movements and nations are followed with such passionate fervor.

My question: what triggers people to go so insane for such an organization and practice that means so little? If people go this crazy for sports teams, Occupy leaders should be ashamed. Leaders, brands and ad/PR agencies everywhere should be ashamed.

My point is, that if you can work people into a frenzy over a sports team, you can really get them stoked on just about anything with the proper branding, PR and advertising. Especially with the right people speaking for your cause.

My next post will revisit the cult concept in relation to sports and elaborate on this post. Unless I get way too distracted.


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