Archive for the 'Public Relations' Category

The Battle of the Babes

Controversey abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Controversy abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Here’s a fun little story.

The All England Club, the folks responsible for hosting the Wimbledon Championship, has admitted that a player’s personal appearance is a factor when considering who plays on the prestigious Centre Court.

Controversy sparked after No. 8-seeded Victoria Azarenka faced Sorana Cristea, seeded 28th, at Centre Court on Friday.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

And what’s wrong with that? Well, top-seeded Dinara Safina and the No. 2 seed Serena Williams were both demoted to the modest outer courts, while Azarenka and Cristea happen to be freaking gorgeous.

Sorana Cristea

Sorana Cristea

All England Club Spokesman Johnny Perkins told The Daily Mail that, “good looks are a factor,” in deciding court schedule. Added a source from the BBC, “it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court…Our preference would be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing ratings.”

This clearly is chauvinistic, unfair and a PR gaffe for the ages. The concept of sport relies on the premise that the better player is rewarded and celebrated. Sport should never be a beauty contest, and this strategy by the All England Club is unquestionably unjust.

But – off the court, field, rink, track, etc. – we do reward and celebrate the better-looking player almost uniformly. Don’t we?

Let’s play a game. Name five ugly “superstars.” Can you even name three? Here, I’ll spot you Randy Johnson (in his prime).  Ronaldinho is pretty ugly, too. Joakim Noah is borderline disgusting, but he’s certainly not a “superstar.”

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

The ugly truth is that our superstars are attractive. Most men haven’t even heard of top-seeded Dinara Safina, but they could tell you the beautiful Maria Sharapova (unseeded) has green eyes. Soccer hunk David Beckham is arguably one of the most popular athletes in the world, and yet Sport.co.uk has questioned whether the England national team will even need him in the 2010 World Cup.

I’m not an expert in what makes an attractive male, and I probably will never be one. Still, you can’t tell me that Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or Roger Federer is ugly, can you?

Sex appeals and beauty sells. Just ask Danica Patrick.

But to fans of sport, athleticism also sells. Teamwork sells. Strength sells. The will of a champion sells.

Here’s the point: Marketability (off the court) and Sportsmanship (on the court) should actually remain independent of each other.  True sports fans want to see the best, the fastest and the strongest compete – not the sexiest.

Need proof? Look no further than last Friday’s match between Azarenka and Cristea. As Kate Nocera at the New York Daily News put it, “Die-hard tennis fans who came to the event seemed to know better,” leaving the stadium at Centre Court virtually empty. My guess is people went to watch Safina and Serena and the rest of the elite play.

Besides, they probably already Tivoed the match (on HDTV) for when they got home.

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Stacey Sepp, you make me want to be a better man

A lesser man would use this space to gloat, but I can’t. I truly feel like Apollo Creed after the final bell in Rocky I. I’m bruised, battered and happy it’s over. After 15 gut-wrenching rounds, I’m the champion of a fight I didn’t deserve to win. In other words, “There ain’t gonna be no rematch.”

Stacey (right) beating up CJ (left)

Stacey (right) beating up CJ (left)

In what turned out to be a more grueling (and annoying) contest than I could have ever imagined, I outlasted an incredible last second surge by Stacey Sepp in my first (and last) follow-off competition on Twitter. 

For those of you not in the know, Stacey is the founder and COO of Xstatic Public Relations in Denver. More importantly, however, Stacey is a Twitter-friend of mine, and we are now going to be mentioned in the same sentence for all of history.

HA! Not really. The fact that Stacey even agreed to this contest is beyond flattering, and I appreciate any notoriety I gained as a result of competing against her. 

On Xstatic PR’s fancy new Web site, the agency claims “to not [be] your ordinary public relations firm.” Well, Stacey, here’s a proof point. Ideas like today’s follow-off are examples that you aren’t afraid to be different. In fact, Xstatic is proving everyday to be different, and their “unique combination of stellar results and flawless execution is what keeps [their] clients coming back for more.”

I want to formally thank Stacey for today, and to let the rest of you know that I am taking a break from this blog and Twitter for the weekend.

Thanks to all who helped me through today – I couldn’t have done it without you. Big Ups go out to Mike Marcotte (gave me an unbelievable boost early), Amber Johnson (helped me pull away at the end) and Lynne Austin (mentioned me three times on her Tampa Bay-based sports talk show, SportsChix!) 

Enjoy the weekend, all!

“It’s a Follow-off”

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Stacey Sepp, Founder and COO of Xstatic Public Relations in Denver, has challenged me to a “follow-off” on Twitter. Whoever can increase their total number of followers in 24 hours gets a Gold Star, a round of applause and bragging rights for the month. The loser is publicly humiliated and will suffer 19 weeks of bad luck.

Now you understand why this contest is so important to me. I’m already on a six week stretch of bad luck, so if Stacey bests me tomorrow then the next few months should be just dandy.

Here’s what I need you to do:

  • If you are on Twitter already, then start following me at @CJ_Powell
  • If you aren’t then sign up here (takes two minutes) and start following me at @CJ_Powell. To my friends who are anti-Twitter… Dudes, you don’t have to keep the account – Just make one and follow me momentarily until I can outlast Stacey.
  • If you already do follow Stacey… well… I don’t want to condone any de-following behavior, but it certainly couldn’t hurt my cause in the short term.
  • Finally, spread the word. Stacey’s reach is pretty expansive, and beating her would truly be a testament to the gossipy nature of my circle.

The third bullet is borderline cheating behavior, but as this posting already proves I’m willing to do whatever to gain a competitive advantage. If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.TaleOfTheTape

The Eye of the Bulldog

nvo9wlAt the end of these NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant will finally have something he has needed to secure his place in basketball folklore. No, I’m not talking about a title sans the Big Aristotle – though he will certainly have that when the Lakers clinch in five. What Kobe Bryant has been missing is a signature. A defining image. An iconic picture worthy of a stamp on an envelope.

I’m talking, of course, about newborn Kobe Face. Up until now, when the average fan brings up the image of Kobe in his or her mind, one of the following visions appear:

Now, his legacy will also include this bulldog impersonation.

As much as stings to admit this, Kobe deserves a ring without Shaq. Much like Shooter McGavin, this is Kobe’s turn to win the gold jacket. And, like all the other greats, it was time for the Black Mamba to burn an image into our memory. 

It’s hard not to be suspicious, though, of the origins of the aforementioned expression. I know Kobe is extremely marketable (as evidenced every other commercial during these NBA playoffs), but doesn’t a signature look give him even more marketing moxie? On his latest podcast, Bill Simmons jokingly asked Matthew Berry if Kobe had been practicing “the badger” face in the mirror – but it doesn’t really seem too far-fetched.

Riddle me this… Kobe is a perennial All-Star in his 12th season, and we are only now seeing the Eye of the Bulldog? If this face truly is just spontaneous manifestation of pure grit, shouldn’t we have seen this underbite years ago? Furthermore, if this look is actually genuine, does this mean he wasn’t trying as hard in the previous 12 seasons? Can humans change their face behavior overnight? 

Questions abound, but the truth is the Kobe Face is a new invention – or rather, it’s a reinvention. Instead of being perceived as a whiny adulterer who never lived up to the “Jordan-esque” potential, Kobe Bryant will carve out his identity as a bona-fide winner. And the Kobe Face will forever serve to remind us as such. 

In the months following the 2009 Finals and the weeks leading up to the 2010 Playoffs, look for Kobe and his new expression to be as omnipresent as ever. Forget sharing the spotlight with LeBron, Kobe will in a surplus of Gatorade, Nike and – of course – Puppychow commercials for years to come.

Probably not very interesting…

But I wanted to post this sucker, in case some employer wants to look deep into my professional makeup. Here is my Emergentics profile, the “Which Spice Girl Are You?” quiz of the professional world. I took this profile test during my time at Schenkein, with the aim of creating ideal client teams for perfect efficiency. Does it work? Maybe. Either way, I was markedly proud of being dubbed “tri-modal” – meaning I don’t make decisions based on one or two strategies. 

Here’s a quick passage from the book to further explain what my profile means:

“The Structural/Social/Conceptional profile represents 4 percent of the population. People with this profile combine asymmetrical thinking with concrete, Structural thinking. They can inspire people and put together a process to see that the inspiration is completed.”

I’m so cool… hire me. 
Emergenetics

Sports PR Blog

It pains me to do this (as she is a diehard Red Wings fan), but I have to give some love to Christy Hammond (@behindthejersey) of Sports PR Blog. I was doing some researching on Michael Vick’s public image and how to restore it when I came across Hammond’s Web site. After a few minutes of perusing her blog, it became apparent that this isn’t some amateur site (like mine), but rather is a legitimate resource for when sports and public relations overlap. What’s even more august is that Hammond is a college student at the University of Michigan, an intern for both the Red Wings PR dept. and the UM media relations dept. – in addition to being a full-time blogger.  

Her Web site is pretty expansive too, citing job opportunities, providing career advise and looking at PR case studies. 

Suffice it to say, I am thoroughly impressed with Hammond’s site and credentials, and anyone interested in public image and sports should give her sight a once-over.

PRConversations

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I feel so fortunate to be a young professional in an industry that is constantly evolving. You truly can learn something new everyday. 

Today’s lesson? There’s a channel on YouTube called PRConversations that hosts videos featuring “insight and advice on marketing, public relations, advertising and social media.” Produced by Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince in D.C., the YouTube channel for PRConversations is currently 41 videos large, but Fletcher Jones also runs a PRConversations blog, a podcast, and a host of other social networking pages

Pretty cool move for an agency trying to showcase its social media chops. 

Here’s an example of a video currently on its YouTube page, which I found pretty interesting.