PR in Sports

Looking at the World of Sports from a PR Perspecitve

Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Who do you Back, Players or Owners? NFLPA Changing Fans Minds with New Online Strategy

with 15 comments

NFLPA Launches NFLLockout Campaign

It’s no secret both the NFL and NBA are heading towards what are sure to be contentious labor negotiations between players and owners this summer. There’s a real chance both leagues could be headed toward lockouts as well. I’ve always thought this to be a fascinating aspect of the fan-player and fan-owner dynamics.

When you break it down to its core, who are players? They’re employees, granted very well compensated employees, but they’re still employees. Who are owners? They’re employers. Finally, who are about 99% of the fans? Employees of some kind. So it stands to reason that fans would identify more with players during these negotiations, right?

Not the case. Fans play the “I’d play for free” card and have a very difficult time relating to millionaire players, but have no problem backing billionaire owners. For some reason the Players Association’s of the NFL, NBA and MLB have had a difficult time getting their message across to everyday fans.

The PR playbook has always been to have the head of the players union play hard ball in a series of media tours. They attack commissioners and owners in each league, roll out the players negotiation talking points and essentially attempt to take the heat while shielding players from the dialogue. But that strategy usually fails with fans. Fans have been unable to buy into that separation between the union as an entity and the individual players.

But, the NFLPA is finally changing that playbook. In what makes perfect sense as this is the first real major sports collective bargaining agreement negotiation in the Social Media Age, the NFLPA is taking the battle online, launching the website, a twitter account and Facebook Page.

But there’s more to the strategy, not only have they launched these sites, they’ve branded the campaign “NFL Lockout”. It’s difficult in some cases to even tell if the NFLPA is actually affiliated. is basically a blog standing on its own, not a campaign living on the official NFLPA website. Although its crystal clear which side and whose message the campaign is backing.

So, they’ve essentially used the online campaign to change the connection with fans, who fans view as the villain and turned fans into ambassadors of both the campaign and the players. Instead of talking about millions of dollars already millionaire players might lose, a simply unrelatable concept for the average person, the NFLPA is using the “NFL Lockout” campaign to frame owners as a group trying to stop football and take football away from fans.

To bring awareness to the campaign the NFLPA has tagged Tuesday, January 18 as #LETUSPLAY DAY, an online movement where they’ve created the hashtag #LETUSPLAY. The genius behind #LETUSPLAY DAY is several prepared Facebook and Twitter posts where they ask fans to post “…help NFL players and fans #blockthelockout” to Facebook and Twitter. What does this accomplish? It positions fans and players as being on the same side of the debate and puts even more pressure on the owners.

It will be interesting to see if the campaign has legs and ultimately keeps fan opinion with the players for the long-term, especially the closer we get to an actual lockout towards the end of summer. It will take patience for the NFLPA to stick to their guns and not go back to the old playbook, but in the short-term this was a tremendous PR move.

Now we’ll have to see if the NBPA can be as creative and forward thinking, but one thing I can tell you is to not bother searching GoDaddy for the domain name, it’s already taken.


Written by Brian Gleason

January 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Winners and Losers of the Super Bowl Sunday Ad Blitz

with 22 comments

I’m sure everyone and their brother will be recapping Super Bowl commercials, so I’ll join the fray. But, since I spent most of the weekend shoveling 30 inches of snow and need to get some rest, I’m just going to post a few categories with some real quick thoughts. Here’s my losers, winners, best and worst social conscience spots, the battle of the job search sites, worst celebrity endorsement and the biggest loser!

I’ll be honest, with my 2 year-old running around, I didn’t see them all, so feel free to throw your two cents in. I would love to hear your winners and losers in the comments.


3 – I’ve just never been a fan of the series of spots that depicts a genius that has accomplished amazing feats, yet we’re supposed to relate to them because they struggle to buy a car, just like us common folk. I know that’s the point of the spot, but it just misses in my book. I don’t think people relate.

2- Dodge Charger: Sexist? Possibly. Just a complete miss? Definitely. I know may of the wives out there are no longer fans of Dodge. The car every guy is dreaming of is a Dodge Charger? Really? I know they’re supposed to think their cars are cool, but the spot just missed in my opinion.

1 – Dr. Pepper Cherry: Was there something I didn’t get? KISS, little people and the launch of Dr. Pepper Cherry? This spot was a colossal fail and a complete mess.


3 – Taco Bell: This was one of the worst spots, by far. So, how did it end up on my winners list? First, this was a pretty down year for Super Bowl spots. Second, has anyone in your office not mentioned it? That’s what I thought, it was just so memorable because it was so bad. I’m almost thinking about going to Taco Bell, almost!

2 – Snickers: Who doesn’t love Betty White? One of the first commercials out of the gate, and Snickers had us thinking this years group might surprise. Disappointingly though, this was one of the highlights. But, nothing beats Betty White talking trash during a sand-lot football game! This spot also generated plenty of Twitter buzz after its airing.

1 – Google: Google was a big winner Super Bowl Sunday. This spot nearly shut Twitter down for a several minutes, and unlike the spot, Google’s was totally relateable to the average person. Simple, yet a huge win for Google!

Social Conscience Spots

Loser – Audi: Being “green” is great, saving the planet is great. But, this spot just came off as preachy with the potential to turn people off.

Winner – Focus on the Family and Tim Tebow: Some may hate this, but for all the controversy this spot caused, Tim Tebow handled this very well. Abortion is a very sensitive topic, but unlike Audi, this spot was very subtle and didn’t try to slam their cause down viewers throats. The spot was simply used to drive viewers to the Focus on the Family web site to learn more of Tebow’s story. Agree or disagree with him, Tebow handled this spot and controversy in a very classy way.

The battle of the job search web sites

Loser – A beaver playing violin? Enough said!

Winner – Casual Friday taken to a whole new level. I know we had a few too many old people in underwear during this years Super Bowl, but I found this spot hilarious, especially for anyone that works in an office.

Celebrity Endorsement

Worst – Skechers Shape-ups/Joe Montana: All this money for a Super Bowl spot and Sketchers uses a voice-over Joe Montana? And for this product? Sketchers spot could have been in the “losers” group, but it was so bad, I felt it needed its own section.

Biggest Loser

Social Media: Not so much social media, but the lack of forward thinking from brands in this social media age. I fully expected to see a handful of brands using their spots to drive conversation on Twitter in a creative way, drive traffic to their Facebook Page or even a forward thinking integrated social media campaign. The only sign of Twitter I saw was in the Vizio spot promoting their new Via technology featuring internet apps.

Well, that’s my real quick look at the Super Bowl spots after the game. I’m sure I missed some things, so again, tell me where I’m wrong, right or what your thoughts are in the comments. Would love to hear them!

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Could Keith Olbermann be a PR Problem for Roger Goodell and the NFL?

with 8 comments

I was having an e-mail discussion with my buddy Chappy Wednesday morning. Chappy lives in Boston, and if you regularly read this blog you know I’ve lived there as well, so our discussion inevitably ended up on the Massachusetts Senate results. We discussed a few different aspects of the race, which eventually led to Keith Olbermann’s comments following the outcome, a win by Republican Scott Brown.

When discussing Olbermann’s editorial, our exchange went into whether Olbermann poses a PR problem for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. If you remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Goodell had some harsh words for Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh was attempting to become a minority owner with a group looking to buy the St. Louis Rams. The basis of Goodell’s objection to Limbaugh being part of the NFL was that “divisive comments” have no place in the NFL.

What does this have to do with Keith Olbermann? For those that don’t know, besides having his own show on MSNBC, Olbermann also co-hosts NBC’s Football Night in America, the NFL’s primetime Sunday night showcase each week.

There’s no question Goodell was under pressure to respond to criticism, whether right or wrong, about Limbaugh’s bid to become an owner. But, by entering the Limbaugh debate so strongly, did Goodell open himself up to answering what exactly is divisive language, from a political perspective, according to the NFL? It’s not out of the realm that reporters, or political groups with an agenda for that matter, could call for Goodell to respond to whether Olbermann’s comments are “divisive”.

Now, this is a Sports PR/Marketing blog, not a political blog, so I’m not really interested in debating conservative/liberal or Limbaugh/Olbermann, at least not in this space.

The question is, did Goodell overplay his hand with Limbaugh, almost setting a precedent where he has to respond when anyone affiliated with the NFL enters political debate? Is it out of line to question Goodell about whether Olbermann is too “divisive” to co-host Football Night in America? Should the NFL just stay away from extreme political commentators/figures playing a visible role in the league?

What say you?

Disclaimer: I hope we can have a healthy debate in the comments section, sticking to the PR aspects of this topic. Any comments using crude language or attacking another poster will be deleted.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Written by Brian Gleason

January 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

Which Thanksgiving Weekend Sports are you Most Excited to Watch?

with 3 comments

We’ve had a lot of focus lately on the PR side the last few posts, so with Thanksgiving on Thursday, I though we’d swing back to the straight sports side of things. Thanksgiving Day is pretty much strictly turkey and NFL, but the rest of the weekend has plenty of other options to keep you on the couch and out of the malls. To go along with a full slate of NFL games on Turkey Day, we have College Baskeball FeastWeek, big rivalry games in college football and to wrap up the sports weekend a marquee Monday Night Football match-up.

As usual the NFL kicks things off on Thursday afternoon. We have Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas and the nightcap with the Giants traveling to Denver on the NFL network. Not the greatest lineup, but hey, its tradition and we love it.

FeastWeek in college basketball is also quickly becoming a tradition. The weekend includes a host of tournaments across the country with some of the top teams in college basketball getting early season tests. The lineup includes the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals and finals featuring Duke and UConn, the 76 Classic featuring Butler, West Virginia and Minnesota and the Old Spice Classic featuring Michigan, Xavier and Marquette.

The weekends slate of college football games includes some of the top teams in the country looking to avoid the late season slip-up against their main rivals. The top games include #1 Florida hosting Florida State, #2 Alabama heading to Auburn, #9 Pittsburgh traveling down Rt.70 to take on West Virginia and a nice mid-major match-up between #19 BYU and #21 Utah.

Last but not least we have a huge Monday Night Football game when the New England Patriots, the last team to undefeated during the regular season, travels to New Orleans to face the Saints, one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL.

Think you can keep up with that schedule while the rest of the suckers fight the crowds at the mall? So all I want to know now is, which Thanksgiving Weekend sports are you most excited to watch?

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Written by Brian Gleason

November 24, 2009 at 11:13 pm

NBA Leading The Twitter Trend

with 6 comments

I’ve been posting a lot lately about Twitter and social media in general, but Twitter really has been dominating the sports news in recent weeks. This past weekend was more of the same as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined by the NBA for a tweet, and Celtics forward Paul Pierce entered the Twitter fray (@paulpierce34). Pierce used one of his first few tweets to hand out tickets to Sunday’s Celtics game to the first five people to meet him at the players entrance to the arena and use the code word “truth.”

We’ve also discussed the infamous Charlie Villanueva halftime Tweet and other popular athletes on Twitter, mostly from the NBA. SportsPRBlog has an interesting post that includes a google document with a searchable list of nearly every athlete, league, conference and sports media outlet on Twitter.

One thing strikes me after looking at the Twitter google document and digesting all of the news previously mentioned. Why are NBA players and teams dominating Twitter compared to other sports and athletes, and what makes Twitter more attractive to the NBA?

There are numerous reasons, and one could be that Twitter really started becoming main stream a few months ago. Right around the time the NBA was heating up and the NFL was winding down. But, it’s more than just timing. The NBA places much more focus on marketing individual players, as opposed to the NFL, MLB and other sports, where marketing is more team based. Due to the NBA’s marketing strategy, the individual players also place more emphasis on their personal branding.

The NBA is about personalities, and that lends itself to social media, and specifically Twitter. Just last week we saw Shaq and LeBron having an intro competition. That’s right, they battled over which player had the most creative intro skit during pregame annoucement of the starting lineups, somthing you’d never see in football or baseball.

Also, NBA fans and media sit right on the court. NBA players can often be found interacting with courtside fans and media during games. It’s the only major sport with that type of access. It allows a greater comfort level for NBA players with the type of interaction that social media sites like Twitter promote.

Baseball’s opening Day is just a few days away, so I’ll be watching to see if there’s an increase in MLB players on Twitter in the coming weeks. But, I’d like to hear why you think NBA players and teams have a larger presence on Twitter?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Written by Brian Gleason

March 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Eagles in PR Minefield over Facebook Firing

with 12 comments

Update: Former Philadelphia Eagles employee Dan Leone will be chatting on at 3:00pm EST on Thursday, March 12.

Former Philadelphia Eagles employee Dan Leone grew up just down the street from Veterans Stadium, and has been a die-hard fan his entire life. When the Eagles built Lincoln Financial Field Leone figured he’d fill out an application and see if he could land a gig with his favorite team.

Fast forward 6 years and Leone is the west gate chief on game days, that is up until last week when the team let 13-year veteran, and fan-favorite Brian Dawkins sign with the Denver Broncos. What does Dawkins have to do with this? Well, Leone, like many Eagles fans, was furious Dawkins was leaving and posted on his Facebook page, “Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver…Damn Eagles R Retarded!!”

The Eagles subsequently fired Leone. Should Leone have better judgment, yes. Was his Facebook status update inappropriate for an employee? Of course. But, the Eagles going as far as firing him brings up a host of questions from a PR and really a business perspective in general.

Christy Hammond at brings up a great point. In this day and age every company should supply their employees with social media policies. Many companies are behind the curve on this, but as sites like Facebook and especially Twitter are exploding, more and more people are sharing their thoughts on-line, and companies need to decide what is and isn’t acceptable. That also means employees need to be extra vigilant in what they’re posting.

But, that doesn’t mean that this unfortunate situation rests solely on Leone’s shoulders. The Eagles took a lapse in judgment from an employee and turned it into PR nightmare. I don’t know how many “Facebook friends” Leone has, but usually it’s in the range of 100-200. So the Eagles fired a passionate employee over an inappropriate post that maybe 200 people saw.

In turn they ensured millions more now know about the comment. The story, and Leone’s comment, have now been all over the Philadelphia media, ESPN and almost every major sports media outlet across the country.

An even larger issue is whether firing an employee over a Facebook post is a wise PR move considering the current economic conditions. People are losing jobs left and right, and Leone was just fired for his Facebook status! Will the Eagles see any backlash for being insensitive during these time? Maybe something they should have thought about before pulling the trigger on this decision.

So, my question to you, did the Eagles make a mountain out of a mole hill? And, do companies in the current economic climate need to be more careful from a PR perspective for the reasons they let employees go?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Written by Brian Gleason

March 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm

%d bloggers like this: