The Underdog Days of Summer

With the NFL and NBA both embroiled in lock-outs while owners and players negotiate new collective bargaining agreements, the hottest tickets in sports these days belong to some unlikely matches.

It seems some of the lesser talked about sports have discovered their recipe for PR success and the key to popularity – violence and scandal. It has long drawn in the crowds for the raw force of football, the precision of basketball and, of course, baseball. While not violent in itself, baseball is certainly full of money, drug and gambling scandals. It’s amazing any of them are still eligible for the Hall of Fame. We love you Pete, even if you did bet on your own teams!

Taking a PR lesson from Spider-Man the Broadway musical, the Tour De France has found itself amidst a flood of disaster, and with it, media activity. And, with that much attention, the masses are tuning in! While Lance Armstrong has lent a good amount of appeal to cycling over the past years, it is nothing compared to the broken bones, near death experiences and doping scandals surrounding the race this year. Hell, the media are so into this thing they ran down one of the competitors. OK, it didn’t go exactly like that, but regardless the press has had plenty to fuel the Tour de France fire!

After a much needed day off to rest and put the drama behind them, the race took off again Tuesday. With many competitors out of the race, and the dreaded climbs in the  Alps still to come, the fight is on to the finish line, which cannot come fast enough most likely.

And, let’s hear it for the ladies of soccer, who are causing a bit of a stir themselves. After their victory over Brazil on Sunday, the celebrity tweets keep rolling in. Stars such as Tom Hanks, LeBron James, Seth Meyers, Aaron Rodgers and Lil Wayne were sending their love and admiration through Twitter for the U.S. women.  They even won an Espy award last night for that last-minute goal — as the network sponsors of both FIFA World Cup and the ESPYs, looks like ESPN is grabbing the spotlight while they can.

The women’s soccer team has made a different play to gather some attention. Beautiful women that kick ass, you can’t ask for a better PR campaign.

Even with as much attention as the Tour De France and women’s soccer have gotten, don’t count our favorite traditional sports out just yet. The NCAA continues to trend on Twitter as people still continue their chatter. But, it’s nice to see the underdogs get some time in the spotlight. And, if they keep up the crashes and the drugs, they might just stay there.

Climbing the Best Practices Summit

Nothing says spring in NYC then 40 degrees and windy.  No wonder all those New Yorkers (and I’m a native) walk at like a 5mph pace.  It’s just to stay warm in March.

I was on my way to the 2011 Ragan Media Relations Best Practices Summit. It was a terrific Ragan Communications conference where I spoke with my colleague Robin Lane on integrating traditional and social PR tactics to create a successful campaign. We highlighted our own success with the Silver Diner restaurant group.



Of course Robin and I were sandwiched between Tim McIntyre, VP Communications, Domino’s about how they masterfully handled a brand-damaging video, and Carlos Dominguez, SVP, Cisco about what’s hot in the digital world and what’s coming down the pike.

Tim was great.  Guess is that you know all about the famous Domino’s employee video that caused a scandal for the company.  And while you heard the media’s take on it, it was quite different to hear Tim’s. Despite the criticism Domino’s received for the campaign, their response was actually incredibly thoughtful. No, they didn’t race online with their response, but rather investigated the video and searched out the culprits before they could do more damage.  The team discovered it was a hoax and put its president on YouTube to remind us how much Domino’s cares about its customers. 

And Carlos was super cool.  From his witty intro showing his Cisco ID photo’s gradual increase in quality as he climbed the corporate ladder…to his “controversial big ideas” on what’s in store for the tech side of things.  First, a mind blowing idea – email will be dead.  Yup, Carlos predicts that this time-suck way of communicating will be replaced by customized finite communities.  For example, we will collaborate on projects in secure professional communities rather than through individual email.  Everything will take place in these communities.  No more email updates.  Can you fathom that?  At least I won’t wear out my delete button as much. 

The second “big idea” was that intent marketing is about to explode.  All the research points to the value of consumer reviews and online feedback in people’s purchasing decision. And according to Carlos, the marketers are not going to just dabble at taking advantage but throw themselves in head first. Say I want to buy a small car around $25k with great gas mileage.  In today’s world, I’m more likely to ask my social network than rely on consumer reports and test driving 8 different models.  By simply stating my intent, I will find myself targeted and sold to by all the car dealers online. Companies and brands will track you online and come to you. 

Just these two new thoughts have kept my mind spinning since the conference.  Not sure about email biting the dust so fast, but intent marketing is already happening.

Hats off to Mark Ragan who put on a great show.