PR in Sports

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Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Villanueva

NBA Leading The Twitter Trend

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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?

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Social Media Taking Athletes Interaction by Storm

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Curt Schilling announced his retirement Monday on his blog 38pitches.com

Curt Schilling announced his retirement Monday on his blog 38pitches.com

Here we go again, another post on the ever growing trend of social media in sports, but the fact is it’s undeniable at this point. We’ve already covered the Philadelphia Eagles Facebook issue and the Charlie Villanueva halftime Tweet. Monday we saw even more evidence that social media is taking sports by storm when Curt Schilling announced his retirement from baseball on his blog. That’s right, not an arranged press conference, but on his blog! Could you imagine the firestorm this would have caused five or even two years ago?

Schilling will still hold a tear-jerker press availability or at least make the interview rounds, but the influx of athletes using social media to break their own news brings up numerous issues. Joe Favorito at Sports PR & Marketing Roundup has some great info on how athletes can use their blogs not only craft the message, but to capatilize on advertising dollars. By announcing such news on a radio show for example, the stations advertisers win, but by doing so on their own blog the athlete is driving audiences through clicks to their own advertisers.

This new age messaging also begs the question, how can team PR people deal with this type of interaction from their athletes? How can it be ensured that the correct message gets out, or even more importantly, that the wrong one doesn’t? What can be done to make sure a team is aware of what players are doing online?

It can be uncharted territory for a team because there are distinct differences between interviews and appearances set up by the team and what an athlete does in terms of personal branding on their own time. Team reps do their best to maintain relationships with player agents and management, but their personal branding is often done without notifying team officials.

There are action items that team PR people can utilize to stay ahead of the game and avoid suprises. Every PR person should be engaging in social media, whether it be corporate or personal accounts. Remaining up-to-date on the latest online trends requires participating in the conversation. Being one step behind ensures never being able to keep up with where athletes are sharing information.

A little more obvious is “following”, “friending” and “becoming a fan” of your athletes social media pages, and consistently checking them, and their personal websites, for updates. Being surprised by a reporters question about something one of your players posted online can only compound the situation, plus by checking for their updates you might find some personal or community information that would be worth pitching to the media.

Finally, most companies these days are beginning to adopt social media rules for employees, IBM has one of the best employee social media policies. Sports teams should follow a similar model, although a few tweaks might be needed due to the nature of working with contract athletes as opposed to employees. The main idea stays the same though, just as media training is provided to players, so should training for players regarding social media activities.

The key is to remain in the loop on players personal activities in an effort to not be caught off-guard when something is posted that isn’t in-line with team policy.

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm

What Sport Would Work for In-Game Tweets?

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Looks like PRinSports helped break the Charlie Villanueva Halftime Twitter story Sunday night, as Boston.com, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Deadspin.com and Ball Don’t Lie are just a few of the outlets that referenced the initial post. It also seems that not everyone was as excited about Charlie V’s Tweet.

The verdict came in Tuesday when Milwaukee Bucks Coach Scott Skiles told the AP that Villanueva’s in-game Tweets will be no more. Skiles told the team, and Villanueva, that nothing like that will ever happen again, although he stopped short of levying a fine.

After practice Villanueva tweeted the following, “Well guys, no more halftime tweets for me – I’ll leave it at that, won’t comment on it any further. But I still got love for ya. Stay tune.” Credit Villanueva for not only following up in the media, but explaining himself on Twitter. He obviously understands the importance of connecting with fans, and he’ll continue to find new and exciting ways to let fans in.

I understand where opponents of the in-game Tweet are coming from. For the most part I’m a purest when it comes to sports. But, this is really more about perception than reality. The perception is that Villanueva isn’t focused on the game. The perception is that Skiles doesn’t have the Bucks taking the matter at hand seriously.

But, Twitter isn’t go away. Athletes finding new and innovative ways to connect with their fans in a more personable way isn’t going away. The number of celebrities on Twitter and with Facebook Fan Pages is growing everyday. Charlie V’s halftime Tweet is the beginning, not the end, of more creative communication with fans. It started with athletes using blogs, but will continure to evolve as social media evolves.

The question is, what sport would be conducive to in-game Tweets? Would you have a problem with a baseball player sending tweets in the dugout in between innings? Maybe the pitcher after he’s been pulled? How about a golfer at the turn?

Let me know your thoughts, because this will happen again and it could become the norm.

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

Halftime Tweet from Bucks Charlie V

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The Twittering Charlie Villanueva

The Twittering Charlie Villanueva

On Sunday afternoon the sports world may have changed forever, and in Milwaukee, WI, of all places. In their quest to secure the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference the Milwaukee Bucks pulled off a huge win over the defending champion Boston Celtics. What’s so life altering about that you ask?

The changing moment actually came at halftime. It happened in the Bucks lockeroom with the game tied 41-41. Just after Bucks Coach Scott Skiles addressed the team, forward Charlie Villanueva commented, “In da locker room, snuck to post with my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.” What made this different is that Villanueva didn’t say this to a teammate or to a ball boy coming around to pick up some towels. Charlie V (@CV31) made the comment at halftime on Twitter!

For those that don’t know, Twitter is an online service that allows users to send out 140 character messages called Tweets. These Tweets can range from what you’re doing at the moment, to sharing interesting news, and connecting with professionals in your field. Some of the fastest growing users of Twitter are athletes, sports teams, celebrities and politicians. A few popular athletes on Twitter are the Suns Shaquille O’Neal (@The_Real_Shaq), Jason Richardson (@jrich23) and Steve Nash (@The_Real_Nash), the Jets Kerry Rhodes (@kerryrhodes) and golfer Natalie Gulbis (@nataliegulbis).

Villanueva raised the stakes Sunday afternoon. Up until this point athletes have mainly used Twitter to connect with fans and become more personal. One of Shaq’s favorites is to Tweet his location and the next fan that approaches him will get a prize. But, I believe this was the first time that an athlete has Tweeted during an actual game.

As a PR and marketing person I love that Villanueva is not only using Twitter, but that he’s actually buying in. I don’t see a problem with his halftime Tweets, although I suggest, and maybe he has done this, that he notify his coach and the teams PR people. That way nobody is caught off-guard, especially with an ever-growing list of reporters on Twitter. Last week alone Twitter was mentioned on PTI and Around The Horn, so you never know when a social media comment can cause a controversy, as the Philadelphia Eagles learned last week.

It will be very interesting to see where this leads us though. Will Coach Skiles have a reaction? My guess is he isn’t aware of Twitter, so it will be especially interesting to see how he feels about a player taking time during halftime to send messages. It will also be interesting to see how the league feels about Twitter, they were very slow in reacting to how blogs have changed the media.

But, the real question is, how will Charlie V’s Tweet change the way celebrities interact with fans? We’ve already seen senators and congressman Tweeting during President Obama’s address a couple weeks ago. Are we going to see bands Tweeting during concerts? Will we see SNL cast-members Tweeting in between skits? The options for celebrities to connect to fans, and to be creative while they do it, are growing daily.

You do have to hand it to Charlie V though, not only is he trendsetter, be he responded to his coaches halftime plea by scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Bucks pulled away. He also backed his Tweet up by posting two more times Sunday night. Once to comment on the win and how he said they’d turn it around at halftime, and once when he got home to let everyone know he was settling down to catch a movie. The key to Twitter, and social media in general, is not only to comment but to engage, and Charlie V is scoring points on that front.

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 16, 2009 at 3:04 am

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