Victory for Vick’s PR

It’s going to be an interesting season for the team of PR and image consultants who are delivering the winning strategy for reinstated NFL player Michael Vick. Known as one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league, Vick’s rise to gridiron fame and fall to criminal intent has proven to be a PR challenge to tackle.

Without knowing the details of the team’s members and plans, their attempt to carefully rebrand Vick and map out a road to redemption following his release from federal prison is turning out to be a PR victory. nfl_a_vick_480

Since Vick’s admitted act of animal cruelty, his team has made a public effort to present him in a repented and reformed fashion. They recently positioned Vick to confess his sins and express immense guilt on CBS “60 Minutes” along side former NFL coach Tony Dungy, commissioned by the league to be his mentor, and President of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, to be his community partner. We all know you’ve got to have a bit of cache to tell your story on “60 Minutes” and the PR team that knows Vick has to come back with some credibility.

Whether his remorse is scripted or sincere, you must admit his team is gaining yards toward the goal. Yet, the ultimate test of a winning strategy is whether the public believes you. Vick is going to have to walk the walk. If he doesn’t, his PR team will end up seeing a bigger chunk from that first $1.6 million to keep him on the straight and narrow. Judging by the execution and perceived outcome, Vick has gotten his money’s worth, but the team must continue to move strategically so the public won’t think Vick’s efforts are contrived.

Personally, I’ve always been an advocate for second chances. Only time will tell how Vick shapes up while his PR team shows out. Our culture often forgives, and, most times, forgets the sins of public figures. So the more touchdown passes Vick throws, the further his wrongdoings will be from our minds.

4 thoughts on “Victory for Vick’s PR

  1. Let’s see. The team misrepresented to the media that they had conferred with animal rights groups and gained their approval ahead of the announcement, only to have several animal rights groups in Philadelphia tell the media explicitly that they had NOT been consulted by the team, and when they were invited to the press conference, they couldn’t get into the room.

    The local NPR affiliate, WHYY-FM, had a two-hour episode of the local “Radio Times” talk show with representatives from the animal shelters in the region talking about how insincere Vick was and how he needs to show some remorse for the animals he tortured for six years before being caught, with comments from the listening audience about how phony and rehearsed the “60 Minutes” interview was.

    There have been extensive blog posts about how over-rehearsed and “on-message” he was about how sorry he felt for the pain he caused his family (never anything about the pain he caused the animals).

    We heard from PA Gov. Rendell about the importance of “second chances” for ex-cons, and then Monica Kinney had the presence of mind in her Inquirer column to remind us that the Eagles haven’t hired a single one of the 200,000 ex-cons who live in the Philadelphia area — even to sell beer or pretzels at the stadium — despite a tax credit for doing so.

    Animal-loving fans are turning in tickets in outrage.

    Yeah, this has all the hallmarks of a real PR success story. Great perspective.

  2. Yes, this has been a brilliantly executed PR campaign, but I wonder how much of it is overkill. Eagles fans are true fanatics and hungry for a Superbowl win. If Vick takes them to the Superbowl, whatever he’s done in the past will be forgiven. If he tanks, he’ll be in the doghouse and no one will care if he turns his entire salary over to the SPCA.

  3. Aerial M. Ellis says:

    Thanks Steve and Nadine.

    I think its a decent campaign in any other case but essentially – it is spin because convincing the public that Vick is truly be transformed into an animal lover is a hard sell.

    His crime was too blatant. It was not accidental in nature at all so there isn’t much room for public forgiveness in that sense. Who will even believe he’s remorseful?

    It almost seems this the PR team had no choice but to spin and go in for the overkill to get his job back. I think that’s what it boiled down to…the job and getting his life back to normal.

    In essence, I think the PR team wins for the client and the strategy works on the surface but I do think after a few years, he will gain some peace if he stays out of trouble and wins some games.

    Its going to take some time.

  4. My thoughts are it doesn’t matter how much you spend on PR and strategy to execute a good plan unless the brand you represent is genuine and passionate about the image, message and voice they want to send to the public. That’s why it’s important for PR professionals, whether you’re on the agency side or the corporate side, to understand how much you can do and set realistic expectations rather than trumping the horn and making a big production out of something that you can’t really validate or back up. I honestly admire the PR professionals who can do their discovery of the client, motive, passion, and message then determine based on how dedicated the client is in driving that mesasge, it’s a go or no go. Money can do so much if you can’t achieve the level of success because a lot of that success depends of how much the client can deliver and how they deliver that message.

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