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.

I Know I’m Write

Reading is fundamental. Writing is as well. But not all writing is created equal, particularly when it comes to writing for news.

Maybe you’ve been there before. You need to write a press release but don’t have the slightest idea of where to start. You’re unsure about the content, the news factor of your story or what it’s worth. But you were always good in English, so you’ll figure it out.

Or maybe you’ve been here: you have an important message to get out to the media and want give them all the details. You’re uncertain of how to send your press release or if it will even get noticed. But you’re a fairly intelligent communicator, so you’ll make it happen.

By journalistic standards, a story without an angle is a “non-story.” What you may think is news may not exactly be what journalists consider a topic of interest for their readers. In a TV newsroom, a story without a visual element to capture for viewers lacks appeal and may be conveyed as a waste of time. Thus, your beloved press release that you’ve sweated and slaved over adorned with all its’ elaborate details and superlative-like adjectives ends up in File 13.

On the surface, writing for news isn’t much different from what you’ve been taught. However, there is one exception: style.

Enter the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. Considered the “Bible of the Newspaper Industry,” it is the gold standard of writing for news. AP recently released their 2009 Stylebook packed with rules on grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage, capitalization, abbreviation, word and number usage. It is the one reference with fundamental guidelines for news reporting that all writers, editors, students and PR pros will follow.

When it comes to writing, none of us wants to be told that we’re wrong. Writing for news requires a certain clarity and professionalism that writing for everyday purposes may not hold up. Weak, cloudy writing can be the worst because it reflects our intellect, skill and thought or lack thereof.

Your writing for news should be closely matched with the standards that professional writers go by. While writing in AP style won’t guarantee you any coverage, it tells journalists who receive your press release that you care about good writing and value their craft enough to learn their precise language.

Guard yourself when writing for news by proofing, tailoring and checking your press release. Oh yes, and go get an AP Stylebook.

Reality Checkpoints for Athletes

With football season now over and basketball season about to climb to its peak, sports fans couldn’t be more excited.The thrill it brings with each year continues prove the sports industry to be one of the powerful agents of media culture. But the public’s interest spans further than touchdowns and championship trophies.

More than ever before, pro athletes are increasingly seen as celebrities, stars and ballers but known less for their power plays on the field. Sure, that’s great branding for name recognition but how many players can you name but have no idea what team the guy plays for? More importantly, at what moment did you learn or remember his name – during a hot media crisis buzzing amid the news or after reading a good magazine article about his journey to the pros?

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The reality is athletes aren’t hard to brand. Their public relations efforts are made simple by their league and team affiliations. Take the media legend of Terrell ‘T.O.’ Owens for instance. Though he grew into some rather unfavorable moments while becoming one of the most outspoken and unpredictable players in the NFL, T.O. has weathered the storm. The Dallas Cowboys’ receiver is getting his own reality show on VH1 this summer showing what life off the field is like. Kudos to his publicists Monique Jackson and Kita Williams tasked with the taming of success.

Not every athlete will have a shot at a reality show. Not every athlete wants their daily life off the field to be peered into. Not every athlete will face public crisis or turmoil. Nonetheless, the responsibility for athletes to manage their image very carefully couldn’t be greater.

Here are three reality checkpoints of PR for athletes:reailtycheck1

First, realize that the sports industry has gone far beyond just getting in the game. PR is a must. Athletes have to study both games and acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing this firsthand will help them tackle their seasons with success.

Second, work hard. Hard work never kills but it pays.
If you’re an all-around hardworking guy, you will surely make progress in your career. This will make people respect and see you as an icon. Hardwork includes going to practice on time and as well as maintaining your character in front of the public.

Third, humble yourself and be disciplined.
This is one of the greatest assets of success. Remember, its public relations, the art of relating to the public and it requires you to be in touch with who you are as player and a person.