Okay, okay – I know what you’re saying, “You like her because she’s a Spice Girl.” Actually no. I respect this former girl group singer because she has seamlessly transformed her posh personal brand into fashion icon status. She took her stage presence to the runway and finally landed in the designer’s chair to launch her own collection of dresses that celebs and even PR strutters like me are going crazy for. Check out a recent rundown of which celebs, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez who both wore a piece from the collection to the White House, are making Victoria’s collection a staple in their red carpet wardrobe.
I was never the most popular or most liked kid in school.
But the one thing I always had going for myself was the ability to use my talents and gifts to gain the attention and respect of others. Most times I felt like a nerd amongst kids who were way cooler than me. Somehow as an accomplished and confident adult, I still feel that way.
The thing is I listen and observe most of time and talk only when I have something of substance to say. On the contrary, most of the cool kids were talkative, funny and “in your face” charming. My humble attributes were too often taken for being shy, withdrawn or overly serious.
There are so many perks in the public relations industry. You meet people with great connections, attend exclusive events, engage in endless networking and enjoy an abundance of complimentary favors. You find yourself surrounded by the perceived in-crowd.
Seems like you’ve finally become one of the cool kids but you’re inner nerd is still lingering. The one reason you aren’t as popular is because you have other things to think about. You’re distant because your mind is on business. You’re quiet because you’re silently and effortlessly strategizing how to beat everyone else at their own game. You’re focused because you’re thinking of your next master plan.
The good thing about PR is that most people think they need it because they’re always looking for a way to gain more exposure for what they do. And, no matter how socially awkward or intellectually complex you may seem, you possess the know-how of making other people popular.
So why don’t nerds make themselves popular?
Because nerds exist to make the cool kids look even cooler. Sometimes we can even make other nerds look cool.
Remember as a PR pro, the client is the star of the show. Will you ever get a little shine? Absolutely. The obscure knowledge of PR keeps you in demand. But most times you’ll be the nerd at the cool table. You’ll always have a reserved seat there because cool kids know that while they play the superstar role and ham the spotlight, you’re somewhere concentrating on the next move.
This month has been pretty busy for the sports and entertainment industries. Events like the Grammy Awards, Oscars, Super Bowl and NBA All-Star Weekend are enough to keep a celeb on the red carpet and a PR pro on their trail. But with all the glitz and glamour of star-studded events, sometimes a PR crisis is waiting to happen. Actors, entertainers, athletes and personalities are under such close scrutiny in the public eye that anything they do or say can be held against them and their PR pro and could possibly put their careers on the line.
Understanding how to deal with a crisis is not an easy job. PR pros should have a crisis contingency plan but that doesn’t mean they should result to being a babysitter. It means that should a client face an arrest, argument, embarrassment, lawsuit, divorce and even death, a plan is in place to help them navigate the problem and save any instant damage to their career. Crisis management is often an overlooked PR strategy. Who sits and waits for a crisis to happen? No one. But they happen. No one is above a crisis or immune to one. And when the danger lurks, it must be dealt with.
PR pros – fight the urge to make hasty decisions in a crisis. One snap comment, untrue statement or rash decision can ruin your credibility, upset the media and make your client resent you. Once you have proven you can handle a crisis in a methodical and graceful manner, you may become the Johnnie Cockran of PR.
Companies and celebs – be honest with your PR and legal counsel. They need to know the facts of your situation. Remember that most incidents involving the police, courts or emergency medical are public record. That means they can be readily accessed for fact-finding in media reports. If your family would be embarrassed or you’d be ashamed by your words or actions, then its probably not a wise move.
The cliche, any publicity is good publicity, is false. Contrary to what we may have assumed for decades, publicity means nothing if your name is as good as mud. Good crisis management makes a distinct difference between a few minutes of fame and a long-lived run of notoriety. Bad crisis management can lead to terrible publicity, severe ramifications and a long battle of image recovery.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to remember when communicating with the media as you approach a crisis:
DO be calm, alert and positive.
DON’T fill in silent pauses. Say what you have to say and stop! Get comfortable with silence.
DO be cooperative. Know what you will and won’t say.
DON’T ever say “No Comment.” Whenever possible explain why you can’t give them the information. For instance, “I cannot speak about that at the moment due to legal reasons.” No comment IS a comment.
DO have a one sentence message you want to communicate no matter what is asked. For example, “I am committed to my family, my career and my fans.”
DON’T start an argument with reporters. Look and sound calm and controlled. An argument makes you look hostile.
DO make your point in 20 seconds or less to avoid being taken out of context. An uncontrolled or long-winded response could contain conflicting statements and confuse the media.
DON’T say or do anything you don’t want reported. There’s no such thing as “off the record” when speaking to the media in a crisis. Any statement you make is likely to make the news. Avoid speculation, lying or talking about anything that’s not a known fact. It’s OK to say “I don’t know.”
DO stand still behind the microphone and use comfortable, meaningful gestures. Make friendly hand movements and facial expressions. It shows you’re not intimidated by the media nor have intentions of intimidating them.
DON’T keep talking as you’re walking away. Stop talking before you walk.
DO allow a PR professional or legal counsel to advise and coach you in ways that are most comfortable for you.
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?
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:
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.