Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Social Media is Booming

Despite the fact that there are only two NBA teams still playing, social media is booming right now in the NBA. This time of year is exciting for NBA fans for many reasons.

First of all, one of the most classic rivalries is being renewed as the Lakers and Celtics tip off in the NBA finals. There are so many sports related blog it's hard to get a sense for what is worth reading and what isn't. Upon a brief glance at the front page of, one of the first things I noticed was an NBA Finals Blog. It features media, interviews and other tidbits about the finals that the average blogger doesn't have direct access to. This makes it unique and in some cases more desirable than many other blogs.

Another reason why this time of year is exciting for NBA fans, is that the NBA draft is approaching. For the 28 teams who are not in the finals, it is time to think of the future of the teams. has a blog which keeps readers updated on the workouts that the Trail Blazers are hosting. This obviously reaches a specific niche - Blazer fans. However, the team is bringing in nearly 50 players for workouts and that means that there are going to be tons of fans and followers out there wondering how their favorite college or international players workouts went.

Another reason why social media in the NBA is booming is due to Web sites like It is a Web site which features in-depth analysis of hundreds of draft prospects and is updated almost daily. This time of year draftexpress is busy sharing the results of various workouts and camps for NBA hopefuls, while offering its speculation as to who will be drafted and by which team. The website's credibility has reached a point in which it sometimes breaks big NBA news or is one of the first websites to report these stories. It also features blogs and more specific feature stories or summaries of these players's careers.

The amount of social media helps keep the NBA excitement high, while letting fans know pretty much everything they could possibly want to know about the current NBA happenings.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rudy Fernandez Knows What to Say

Being a public figure comes with a lot of responsibilities. In the case of an NBA player, this includes being a proper role model. This means being a positive representative of their city or team, making public appearances, talking with the media and tons of other tasks that the average person probably never thinks about.

There are times in a player's career when they have to be careful about what they say when it comes to discussing controversial subjects such as trades, free agency and the desire to play for another team.

According to many analysts, Rudy Fernandez is one of the best basketball players not in the NBA. He just finished his season playing for a Spanish team, DKV Joventut. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns last season and then he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.

However, he was under contract by his Spanish team and the way the NBA rules are setup, if he wanted to come play in the NBA he would have had to buyout his contract himself. Despite having a billionaire owner, the Trail Blazers could not buyout his contract. Considering his star status in Spain, his contract last year was worth more than his NBA rookie contract. In other words, he would have gone bankrupt if he wanted to play in the NBA last year.

Fernandez is a star in Spain and obviously the fans there know that he is likely gone for the NBA. However, in a recent interview in Spain Rudy is quoted saying, "It may have been my last game with Joventut... but maybe not."

Fernandez has yet to sign with the Trail Blazers, but he knows that he cannot alienate his fans in Spain by essentially saying goodbye days after they lost in the playoffs. Especially because there is speculation that he will most likely get a big contract with Nike or adidas and be featured in a huge marketing campaign in Spain. Whether it was the Trail Blazers, DKV Joventut or Fernandez's own PR knowledge, he knew what that he had to be politically correct and remain a fan favorite in Spain for the better of his career.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NBA players, teams and the entire league need to put an emphasis on SOCIAL MEDIA!

Without the ethical or legal concerns, social media is like an athlete on steroids; it is bigger and better than "traditional" media. Various studies are being conducted and the results go right along with the ideas of a tech-savvy, more fast-paced society. Social media is a dominant force in the world today and the NBA should be sure to take advantage of it.

Universal McCann is a global communications agency, and they just released results of a study about social media. Over 17,000 people between the ages of 16-54, in 29 different countries were surveyed.

Globally 73% of internet users are reading blogs with 48% including these consumer-generated content in their weekly media diet.

Some of the adoption rates are simply staggering:

- 83% watch video clips, up from 62% in the last study in June 2007
- 78% read blogs, up from 66%
- 57% of internet users are now members of a social network
- RSS consumption is growing rapidly up from 15% to 39%
- Podcasts are now mainstream digital content, listened to by 48%

Washington Wizard, Gilbert Arenas was the pioneer for NBA player blogs. His blog started two years ago and has won numerous awards. Arenas is articulate and doesn't ever censor himself. He blogs about topics other NBA players are afraid to even mention. His blog is great for the NBA; it gives fans a way of really seeing who NBA players are. In fact, one fan messaged Arenas on Myspace because he didn’t believe it was actually him. Eventually Arenas invited him to a Wizards practice to prove that it was, when they finally met they became friends.

Now tons of NBA players have blogs, a lot of them on the blogging site yardbarker. There you can expect to see such things as pictures and videos of Portland Trail Blazer Greg Oden rehabbing his knee or talking about his puppy Charles Barkley McLovin.

Social media in the NBA goes beyond blogging. This last season, various players posted videos of themselves on YouTube asking for votes to the all-star team or asking for fans to submit suggestions on dunks for the NBA Dunk Contest.

There is no reason for the NBA not to focus on social media. Going along with the results found by Universal McCann, it is clear that social media has grown tremendously and it offers many unique ways for the NBA and its teams to connect with fans beyond the court.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barack "Oballa"

Somehow I ended up in the "VIP" section at the Barack Obama rally in Eugene the other night. I was a volunteer that had nothing to do so they just stuck me in the VIP section. The secret service and guys with sniper rifles apparently didn't care that I had no sort of credentials around my neck.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about how refreshing it was to hear a presidential candidate talk about the problems with public education in America. Obama made it very clear that he wants all children to have an equal opportunity to attend college. He proposed an idea where students would get several thousand dollars of scholarship money per year by volunteering or working at various organizations such at a retirement center or a veterans hospital. He talked about how we need to make more of an investment in the education of our children by paying teachers more. Additionally, he talked about how parents shouldn't have to worry about their children growing up and being left at a disadvantage because people from another country had better educational opportunities.

Obama focused a lot on the current problems of Bush's campaign and the war in Iraq, but he did make it clear that he cares about education. He emphasized how the $500 billion spent on the war could build a lot of schools.

Obama is a great public speaker and probably got a lot of votes from college students as well as the general public in attendance.

And to keep this somehow basketball related, here is a youtube video of Obama playing basketball. He also said that if he were elected president, he'd have a basketball court added somewhere on the White house property.

Oregon Basketball Coach Ernie Kent presenting Barack Obama an Oregon jersey with the name "Obama" on it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Damage Control and the NBA

One big misconception about public relations is that it is mainly about covering up bad news or "damage control." Public relations is a lot more than just those two things; however, damage control is an important aspect of public relations. When your firm, organization or client has some sort of bad news, whether it is a sex scandal, an oil spill, spoiled food or a drug scandal, it is imperative to immediately make a statement and then figure out the best steps to respond. If that is not done, the information will almost always become public and can in fact make the situation much worse.

During the middle of the first round of the NBA playoffs, Dallas Maverick Josh Howard admitted that he smokes marijuana recreationally during the off season. A local radio station was talking about Howard and brought up some rumors about a potential connection to marijuana. Howard who was listening, called the radio station and wanted to come clean.

"Most of the players in the league use marijuana," said Howard, "and I have and do partake in smoking weed in the off-season sometimes. That's my personal choice and my personal opinion, but I don't think that's stopping me from doing my job."

In order to be transparent, The Dallas Mavericks and the NBA offices responded almost immediately with brief statements saying they were looking into what happened and that they were going to fully assess the situation before anymore comments were made. Additionally, the NBA offices made it very clear that players are randomly drug tested during the season and that Howard had never tested positive.

Having a star NBA player admit to doing drugs is clearly very bad for the NBA's image. This is why the most important part of the response was that it was so prompt. The damage had already been done so it was important to begin to repair that damage.

If I were in charge of the situation, I would try to take a negative and make something positive out of it. The NBA could very easily do some anti-drug ads, which would not be too hard to do and would reinforce the positive image it wants to be known for. This would generate positive press and help bury the negative press that Howard unintentionally created.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Would the NBA and Nike really allow this to happen?

Getting people's attention is not an easy task. One of the best ways for a public relations practitioner to get someone's attention is to use an unexpected or shocking image. If done properly, an unexpected commercial can attract and retain viewers, create tons of press and make viewers actually remember the image, message or product presented.

In early April, a youtube video surfaced of NBA superstar, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. It started out with Kobe and his friends joking around on the roof of some sort of parking garage. He puts his new Nike "Hyperdunk" shoes on and is assuring the cameraman that he "got this!"

Next thing seen is Bryant crouching over in a jumping position. He eagerly rubs his hands together and is clearly impatiently waiting for something. Then in an instant an Aston Martin comes speeding into the screen and Bryant "jumps" over the car. Afterwards he is seen chest bumping teammate Ronny Turiaf in excitement.

Within a few days the video was all over ESPN, Sports Illustrated and pretty much every sports website in existence. If you search for "Kobe Bryant Car Jump" on google over 120,000 hits come back. There are many different videos of the same stunt of youtube. One has almost 3 million views, while others have well over 500,000. Needless to say, it quickly reached millions of viewers.

However, the video is in fact an optical illusion. After watching it in slow motion, it is easy to see that Bryant was in fact simply next to the car as it sped towards him, and he simply jumped as high as he could while the car drove to the side of him. Thanks to the camera angle it appeared that he jumped over the car.

The big topic for debate on such ESPN shows as Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn was how the NBA, the Lakers and Nike would never allow a star-athlete like Bryant to actually perform this stunt had it been real.

The shocking, unexpected nature of the viral video created an incredible amount of publicity for Bryant's new signature shoe line. The idea behind the video was rather simple, but the fact that it appeared Bryant risked his life to pull it off made it that much more memorable.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pubic Relations - The Ability to Influence

Many people have no idea what public relations really is. I get a confused look when I tell people that I'm a PR major. They just assume it all revolves around press conferences. The simplest way to explain PR is just to say that it is the act of influencing someone or something. This blog will serve as a way for me to relate everyday stories or events to the field of public relations.

After an abysmal start (and finish) to the basketball season, Oregon State University fired current coach Jay John mid season. The Beavers went on to finish the season with a record setting ZERO wins in Pac-10 play.

Ever since the season ended, Oregon State has been searching for a new coach with little success. However, today Oregon State announced that they hired Craig Robinson, the current coach at Brown University. He only has two years experience coaching at the college level, no apparent west-coast ties, and no known knack for recruiting at the division one level. So what exactly does he bring to the table to the Beavers?

His name might not ring a bell to most people, even college basketball fans; however, his brother-in-law is Barack Obama. While Robinson may not have experience coaching at the Pac-10 level, he does have an interesting tie that no doubt influenced the decision to hire him.

So what on earth does this have to do with Public Relations?

This hire will undoubtedly have an influence on the entire Beaver basketball program. Now that Obama is officially "tied" to Oregon State, expect more recruits to consider the program and maybe Obama himself will make a more formal visit to Corvallis than simply stopping for Pizza.