Two-Way Teams? Only One Way to Think About That

Even though I borrowed the hat and the jersey, I really did enjoy the Oakland A’s game on August 1, 2019.

Ok. So as I am sure many people have realized, I am not a huge fan of the MLB or baseball in general. But, I have attended a game this season, so maybe things are changing. Thus, I think I am able to have a trusted perspective on this matter.

In late June, the MLB gave the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore becoming the first two-way team in the MLB. The Rays decided to explore expanding into Montreal. I’ve thought about this for quite some time, but my opinion on the matter has not changed.

Why in the world would you do this?

Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles August 19, 2013. Photo Credit:  Keith Allison

I can’t help but think about brand loyalty and team loyalty. If you represent someone’s  hometown, he or she feels a connection, but having two hometowns in two separate countries isn’t the same. 

Additionally, how do you divide the season? Baseball teams are already traveling all over the country throughout the season.

Will you split time between the two locations every other game, giving fans an equal opportunity to see key matchups? Or, will you split the first half of the season in one location and the other half in the other location, resulting in less travel for the “home team”?

I honestly cannot decide which of these scenarios is better as one is better for fans while the other prioritizes the players.

The Tampa Bay Rays feel the need to explore this option because of a lack of attendance at its games no matter the team’s success. However, I think I found a simpler solution.

Why not make the team the Florida Rays?

Check out the crowd at the Rockies game. Photo credit: Max Pixel

Many other teams like the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Rangers already represent a state, and this would increase the number of people who feel a connection to the team.

Fans from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and other areas of the state will want to support the Rays, because the Rays will represent a larger population than just Tampa Bay.

Additionally, you could have particular games of the year played around the state in order to attract a larger fan base. In this scenario, the players are not traveling as much as they would going to Montreal, and they have the opportunity to stay loyal to a particular community.

To me, this is a no brainer. I do not understand the appeal of a two-way team. If Montreal is a desirable location, either move there or expand the league in general so that larger cities (like my hometown Portland) can get a team of its own.

If I am missing something here, please let me know. I would love to hear your opinion, but for me, it’s a clear strikeout.

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Crisis Communication: An analysis of Jeanie Buss’s actions following Magic Johnson’s announcement

Magic Johnson shakes hands with a man at the Sports Museum of America in 2009. Photo Credit: Philipschwalb

One word: Yikes.

On April 9, 2019, Magic Johnson, a beloved Los Angeles Laker, announced in a press conference that he would be leaving his position as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. This should be news, but it shouldn’t turn into a Kardashian episode, but Johnson made the announcement without alerting the Lakers organization prior. Talk about transparency.

Magic Johnson, yellow, posts up Clyde Drexler, black, in the 1980s. Photo Credit: Kip-koech

His comments opened a Pandora’s Box of controversy surrounding the Lakers ownership and who is actually in control of the organization.

This situation worsened when Lakers’ primary owner, Jeanie Buss, commented.  Let’s look at how Jeanie Buss’s actions added to the PR-crisis. 

Buss did not reassure fans of her abilities as a owner.

Jeanie Buss’s tweet in response to Johnson’s announcement. Photo Credit: Jeanie Buss

Instead of making it clear that she was unaware of Johnson’s leave, Buss posted  loving message to Johnson on Twitter.

Johnson called Buss’s ownership abilities into question when he left the organization, and Buss’s lack of response does not help fans feel any sort of validation in her ownership ability.

Buss had others make the statement. 

Many people have speculated that LeBron James has been making the Lakers’ ownership decisions. This rumor was not hushed when James commented about Johnson’s sudden announcement, calling it a distraction from the team that was still finishing its season.

Buss has not stopped communication with Johnson.

Buss posted with Johnson on May 2, 2019. Photo Credits: Jeanie Buss

While maintaining a relationship between the Lakers and Johnson is important, Buss should also be making it clear that Johnson is no longer involved in the Lakers’ operation.

Their relationship is also one-sided as Johnson has continued to make comments critiquing the Lakers’ ownership. 

By continuing to share loving posts with Johnson, Buss presents also the argument that perhaps she still needs his leadership and guidance. 

Buss did not provide stability for the organization.

Three days after Johnson left, the Lakers “mutually parted ways” with head coach Luke Walton. The one thing that the Lakers needed was stability, and Buss just continued to make others question her ability as a leader and drew further attention to the organization as a whole.

Additionally, there have been rumors that the Lakers will not hire a new president of basketball operations. Because of this job opening, there is more instability in the organization.

I need to take a breather. Ok. So, as a PR professional, what can you do to extinguish this fire?  Well, I have a few recommendations:

  • Make the primary decision maker known.
    • The Lakers’ PR team needs to end this gossip by clarifying who is in control of the organization. Jeanie Buss should be the appointed lead, but even if she’s not, the organization needs to seem professional and organized.
  • Separate Johnson from decision makers.
    • By still portraying a perfect relationship with Johnson, Buss makes others think that she is sort of oblivious to the situation and calls into question her leadership abilities.
  • Prevent further damage.
    • Johnson is keeping this crisis in the news by continuing to make comments to the media. The Lakers need to come to an agreement with him to end these comments. By giving the situation some space, the media can hopefully calm down and move on.
  • Provide stability. 
    • Hire well-known names and make fans feel comfortable with where the organization is headed. With all the trade rumors and leadership questions, it is important to make fans know that the organization is in good hands.

What do you think the Lakers’ PR team should do in response to this crisis? Let me know in the comments.

The Cincinnati Bengals & Endangered Species: A CSR Match Made in Heaven

Quarterback Andy Dalton steps back in the pocket during a game against the Atlanta Hawks. Photo Credits: Football Schedule

I recently read an article on the New York Times called “Bengal Tigers May Not Survive Climate Change.”

Obviously, I was sad. Tigers are one of my favorite animals. In fact, I named my cat, Tiger, after one. 

Then, I started thinking. What does this mean for organizations that have mascots that are animals currently on the endangered species list? A.K.A. The Cincinnati Bengals.

Photo of a Bengal tiger. Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

I began to look at the Cincinnati Bengals community tab on its website and realized that currently the organization does not work to conserve the life of the species that its named after. It doesn’t even have an environmental CSR program. What an opportunity.

Climate change is a threat to the Bengal tiger population. A study recently found that up to 96 percent of tigers in the Sundarbans could be wiped out with an increase in sea level of 11 inches. No suitable habitats are predicted to exist for Bengal tigers in India, the tiger’s primary living habitat, by the year 2070, approximately 50 years from now. 

The Cincinnati Bengals should come forward and partner with other organizations to save the tigers and to prevent climate change.

So, what would this program look like? Here are five different solutions:

1. Promote Going Green

A Cincinnati streetcar. Photo Credits: Travis Estell

Bet ya didn’t see that one coming? But, seriously. Encourage fans to take public transportation to the game. Do some sort of promotion for it with athletes to have fans see that anyone can take the bus– even NFL players. 

Recently the Bengals’ stadium, Paul Brown Stadium, announced that it would be making strives to become more renewable. This program should be expanded and promoted to fans as a way to save the Bengals.

2. Build Partnerships

The Bengals should partner with an organization like the World Wildlife Fund which works to protect Bengal tigers. Nike currently has the rights for NFL uniforms; however, the three could partner and create a one-time Bengal uniform that’s proceeds go toward conservation efforts.

If Nike was not on board with this partnership, the Bengals could offer some sort of other merchandise that’s proceeds go toward organizations looking to save the tigers.

3. Educate Fans

The Bengals should implement an interactive fan booth at games that teaches fans about Bengal tigers and climate change. The booth could involve spinning a wheel, and the fan has to answer some sort of trivia. If answered correctly, the fan could win a small prize like a trading card.

By doing this, the Cincinnati Bengals will be able to educate future generations about healthy lifestyle patterns they can implement to save endangered species.

4. Donate to causes that prevent illegal hunting

Since donating to climate change research may be too political of an issue, the Cincinnati Bengals should donate to organizations that work to prevent animals from being illegally hunted.

Poaching also puts tigers in greater danger of extinction, but by donating to organizations like the International Anti-Poaching Foundation or the World Wildlife Fund, the Bengals can work to save its beloved mascot.

5. Prevent Food Waste

An inside look at Paul John Stadium. Photo Credits: Scott Beale

One-third of all food is wasted. This waste produces unnecessary carbon emissions. The Cincinnati Bengals should prioritize food waste by ensuring that the food prepared at games is only available if ordered. Although it may increase wait time, it will decrease unnecessary carbon emissions and improve the environment. 

These are just a few of my personal pointers, but there is much more to be done. To learn more about how you can prevent climate change, click here and for more information about Bengal tiger conservation, click here.  

 

 

 

 

Why Sabrina Ionescu’s Decision to stay at Oregon is telling of women’s sports

I met Ionescu with my best friend, who is also named Sabrina, at the Oregon Spring Game on April 20.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of the University of Oregon’s star guard Sabrina Ionescu. She is the record holder for the most triple-doubles in a collegiate career for men or women, setting the record her sophomore year.

Needless to say, the basketball stud has done it all, including leading the Oregon women to its first Final Four birth and winning the John R. Wooden Award for the most outstanding collegiate women’s basketball player.

That’s why it was such a surprise when Ionescu chose to forgo the WNBA draft to return to college basketball for her senior year.

Ionescu celebrates Oregon’s first Final Four birth at the Moda Center on March 31, 2019, while I took photos.

Her letter for the Player’s Tribune highlighted how Ionescu feels as though she still has much to accomplish at Oregon, specifically a national championship.

However, from an outsider’s perspective, it’s clear that an unmentioned reason probably made Ionsecu want to return to college:

Women collegiate athletes experience more benefits and stardom than professional women athletes.

And, that’s messed up. The draw of money that exists for men to enter the draft does not exist for women. In fact, research shows that the average salary for a WNBA player in 2018 was $71,635 while the minimum salary for an NBA player is $838,464.

While sponsorships do exist for women to make some additional cash, they are not as lucrative as they are for men. Another blog investigated this and found that Maria Sharapova gets approximately $23 million from endorsement deals, leading all women, while Tiger Woods makes $65 million from endorsements, leading all men.

This is really bad, and I think Sabrina Ionescu wants to close this gap by bringing attention to these inequalities.

Ionescu calls out ESPN in a video during March Madness. Photo Credits: Ronald Clark

We have already seen Ionescu take on ESPN and its lack of coverage for women’s sports. Following ESPN’s coverage of the first triple-double of the NCAA tournament, Ionescu was quick to point out in an interview that she had already done it.

As a student at the University of Oregon, I have also seen Ionescu take a team that no one paid attention to and make them into a program that sells out its home games. She’s more than an athlete. She’s an activist.

Just in the last few weeks, Ionescu inspired a campaign to get women’s basketball jerseys for sale at the Duck Store. It has semi-succeeded as the Duck Store released a t-shirt version of Ionescu’s #20 jersey.

The Duck Store announced via Instagram that it would be selling Ionescu t-shirts. Photo Credits: Duck Store

Like many other women athletes, Ionescu has begun to speak up against gender inequality that she experiences. She joins Serena Williams, who spoke out against the gender stereotyping of women, the USA women’s soccer team that fought for equal pay and working conditions, the survivors of the Larry Nassar assaults and countless other women who have now decided that the time is up.

A significant change is coming in women’s sports. Women are beginning to stand up for equality and are forcing others to pay attention to their perspectives. I think its one of the many reasons Ionescu decided to stay at Oregon.

Ionescu knows that she has this platform at the University of Oregon, Nike’s pride and joy, and this platform may not exist for her at right now at the professional level.

Women around sports are finally voicing the injustices they have faced for many years. Now, it’s our turn to stand with them.

 

How to Apply Infographics in Sports

Infographics can even be used to appeal to different audiences. Check out this one in Spanish! Photo Credit: Mário Malhão

One thing that sports do not lack are statistics.

In fact, there are websites dedicated to keeping statistics for any sport imaginable, not to mention the reddit community that keeps the most rare and uncommon statistics for sporting events.

And fans love statistics. Fans want to see anything that makes it look like their team is going to win, which is why many athletic organizations have turned to infographics, visual representations of data, as a way to engage fans and inform them about potential opportunities.

But many organizations also do not use infographics to its full potential. With this in mind, here’s five ways that people can apply infographics to sports:

1. Enhance head-to-head matchups

An infographic of the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry. Photo Credit: Shane Keaney

Compare your team’s best players against the competitor. Show why you are going to beat them. If you are representing a sports broadcasting company, showcase why this matchup is going to be fun to watch. This will generate excitement around the matchup, especially if it is a rivalry.

2. Hype up your team

This infographic created by the MLB compares the 2018 Yankees to other all-time great teams. Photo Credits: MLB

Make an infographic highlighting your team’s successes this year on the road and at home. Use graphic design to show how the team ranks among the other teams in the league.

Take this infographic of the MLS trophy case for each team for example. This infographic excites fans for D.C. United as well as the LA Galaxy because it highlights the teams’ winning nature.

Similarly, the infographic, pictured left, showcases how close the Yankees were in 2018 to setting an MLB record.

Infographics like these make fans excited. After all, who doesn’t want to win a championship?

3. Highlight a specific player

A screenshot of the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson infographic from 2015. Photo Credit: Lakers

Jordan Clarkson won All-Rookie team honors for the LA Lakers in 2015. The Lakers created an infographic that showcased his talent.

From highlighting his shooting range to graphing his season improvement in points and assists per game, the Lakers excited fans about Clarkson’s potential to become a Laker great by comparing him to other successful rookies from that season.

This can also be used to compare a particular athlete to a historic great. So, the MJ vs LeBron debate, maybe does have a solution (or it’s just MJ)?

4. Showcase improvement

A video infographic of Shawn Childs. Photo Credit: Christopher Scales

Players and teams change over the course of a season. Teams can show the impact of a

trade or a new signee through infographics. By comparing the team of old to the team of new, the organization can exemplify how this player, new offense or whatever other change has positively impacted the organization.

5. Recap a game

The San Jose Sharks shared this recap of its series against the Avalanche. Photo Credits: Sharks

Not only can infographics be used to hype up a future matchup, infographics can also be used to explain how or why a team won or lost a game.

By presenting information in a graphic form, things can make a lot more sense to viewers.

These are just a few of the many ways that infographics can be used to enhance sports.

And if you’re like me and you hate graphic design, websites like Canva and Visual.ly offer helpful templates to get you started. So you have no excuse now. Get to work.

Why the NFL needs to add programs that focus on brain injury awareness

NFL Players have an increased likelihood of having CTE. Photo Credits: Max Pixel

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE will change the way that football is played– if it is played at all– in the years to come.

Aaron Hernandez, pictured, was diagnosed with CTE after his death. Photo Credits: Jack Newton

A 2017 report studied the effects of CTE on the brains of 202 American football players. Of the 202 participants, 111 played in the NFL. Of the 111, only one brain did not show signs of CTE. One.

CTE, for those who don’t know, can have life-altering changes on the brain. It is caused by repeated blows to the head and results in personality changes, memory loss and behavioral changes. 

Aaron Hernandez, a Super-Bowl-winning tight end for the New England Patriots, had “the most severe case of CTE ever discovered in a person his age,” according to the Washington Post.  Hernandez died via suicide at age 27 while in jail for first-degree murder. There are speculations that CTE may have led him to commit the crime though we may never know the true motive. 

Awareness of the Problem

 Needless to say, the NFL is aware of this problem and of the research existing about CTE. The NFL released a statement in response to the 2017 report. The statement reiterated how many questions were left unanswered; however, it also highlighted the NFL’s want to prevent CTE by bringing attention to its $100 million donation made to support research in 2016.

Later in the year, the NFL gave an additional $35 million to brain injury research according to a report. Clearly, the NFL is well aware that brain trauma is an issue associated with football, and the organization wants to prevent it. 

Rule Change

Last year, the NFL also changed the rule regarding helmet-to-helmet contact. Players now cannot lower their head to hit another player regardless of the circumstance. The NFL implemented this rule in order to lower the risk of concussions and brain related injuries.

Lack of Raising Awareness

While the NFL has made statements about its commitment to concussion research, the NFL does not offer any sort mention of brain trauma research in its corporate social responsibility webpage

Although the NFL is involved with other social issues that are unfortunately prevalent such as relationship violence and preventing DUIs, the NFL does not want to bring awareness to the connection between CTE and the NFL.

Collisions leading to brain injuries also occur in soccer. Photo Credit: KeithJJ

Football is not the only sport that causes brain injuries. Studies have found that soccer also leads to chronic brain injuries. However, other leagues are doing more to raise awareness. The NWSL and the MLS hosted a joint weekend summit about brain awareness. The summit facilitated a conversation between researchers, athletes and medical staff so that athletes could be treated for their injuries in the best way possible.

Change

It’s time the NFL does more to prevent brain injuries, and this could start by implementing a CSR program to teach healthy hitting habits to young football players. Children grow up seeing the most brutal hits getting replayed on TV and in highlight reels. This narrative needs to change. 

By teaching kids healthy hitting patterns at a young age, years of potential brain trauma could be prevented. Money is not enough. Young athletes need activism to change their behaviors.

It’s time for the NFL to take the big hit and do something that will prevent these life-threatening injuries for generations to come. 

 

Fans, Outbreaks and Measles– Oh My!

The Moda Center seats a lot of people– just check out the view from the 300 section.

Funny story. My mom had tickets for the Portland Trail Blazers’ game on January 11, 2019, but for only the second time in the 21 years that my family has been quarter-season ticket holders, she forgot.

It may have been a blessing as someone at the game ended up having measles, exposing the 20,000 fans in attendance to the potentially-deadly illness.

Let’s take a look at how the Trail Blazers handled this situation. 

Blazers news releases from January 18 when the outbreak was announced to January 22. Photo credit: Trail Blazers

On its PR news website, the Trail Blazers stayed mum about the potential exposure. Although Multnomah County announced the potential exposure on January 18 in a press release, the Blazers chose not to release its own individual statement.

I find it surprising that the Blazers would fail to comment on this matter, because this is something that many families would be worried about. Children frequently attend Blazer games, and as an Oregonian, I can vouch that many parents are the kind of parents that want their children all-natural, aka no vaccinations.

Additionally, Multnomah County’s press release explicitly stated that the infected individual attended the Trail Blazers game. By naming the organization, I thought that they would surely release a statement, but it does not seem like they did.

On Instagram, the Blazers also neglected to tell fans about the exposure to measles.

Blazers’ Instagram posts from January 18- January 22. Again, there was no mention of the measles. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Here is a screen grab of the Blazers’ Instagram posts from January 18 when then outbreak was announced to January 20. None of these posts contain any information about the measles.

Again, this was surprising to me but not as surprising as the lack of press release.

From these investigations, one thing became very clear. The Trail Blazers said nothing about the measles outbreak.

So, who else close to the organization might have said something? I thought that the Moda Center and surrounding Rose Quarter area made the most sense.

The Moda Center and Rose Quarter also made no statement. Photo Credit: Moda Center

However, I was again surprised to find out that the arena itself made no statement about the measles outbreak on its news website.

Needless to say these discoveries left me a little alarmed. What else might the Blazers and the Rose Quarter be hiding? A large majority of the news articles on both of the websites are positive. Are organizations like this not willing to acknowledge some of the negative press?

Although the lack of a statement did not seem to affect attendance, I am not sure that saying nothing is the way to go if these events occur in the future. These outbreaks will likely continue to occur, just look at the measles outbreak from last week in Los Angeles.

Moving forward, I think that PR practitioners need to take steps to not only inform fans about potential exposures but also encourage fans to get immunizations. While the Blazers slipped by, this should not be the practiced response. 

What do you think NBA teams and other professional sports teams should do in response to potential outbreaks? Are you ok with the Blazers’ response? Let me know in the comments below. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Live Tweeting

This is how I feel when I have to live tweet. Photo credits: jimgrant

Live tweeting may be one of the most stressful things that a PR practitioner can be asked to do. Whether for a group meeting, guest speaker or a sporting event, live tweeting involves particular skills that other PR practices do not require.

I have had to do my fair share of live tweeting as a sports volunteer for KWVA radio. While producing the broadcasts, I was also in charge of tweeting live updates of plays, scores and highlights. It wasn’t easy. 

I’ve had successes and failures in live tweeting. Additionally, I have also seen the successes and failures of some professional teams while live tweeting.

Here is are my guidelines for live tweeting sporting events:

Do use images.

The Golden State Warriors tweeted a video of its first made bucket in the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday. Photo Credit: Warriors

People love seeing gifs, memes, videos, photos and any other sort of content.

These tweets generally get more impressions, too. 

I mean, let’s think about it. Who doesn’t want to see their team doing sweet things on the court.

Don’t share unnecessary content.

Too many images or just too many posts in general tend to overwhelm someone’s feed. As a sports fan after my team has lost, the last thing I want to see is a million posts about the game. Only share when things are necessary if you want to have that good following-to-follower ratio. Also, don’t act like you don’t care about it. You do. 

Do tweet at players and teams and use hashtags.

Oregon women’s basketball tweeted at Sabrina Ionescu during a game. Photo Credits: Oregon Women’s Basketball

Tweets generate more engagements when it uses hashtags. Use this to your advantage and tag opposing teams and players and by using hashtags to describe plays.

It’s fun to see teams tweet at on another and share a little smack talk.

However, this leads me to my next point:

Don’t be unprofessional.

The Blazers released an incorrect game score on April 21, 2019. This could have been prevented, but at least they apologized. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Do not say anything that you would not want someone from your organization to say. There is a thin line between being funny and being offensive, and you do not want anyone to have a negative view of your organization because of a tweet.

On this same note, make sure you spell everything right and have the score of the game correct. The last thing you need to do is stress out a fan because he or she believes that the team is losing when in fact the team is ahead.

Being professional is more than just tweeting good statements. It involves tweeting things that are correct. If your tweet is a few seconds late but has no errors, it’s worth it.  And if you do mess up, take responsibility for it. 

Do get creative.

The Sacramento Kings are known for its great use of Twitter. Photo Credits: Sacramento Kings

People don’t want to share, “The Lakers signed Lebron James.” They want to share, “A new King is in town. Welcome to the city of stars, Lebron.” 

Give players nicknames. Use analogies. Think about different ways that you can describe the experience beyond, “Mike Trout hits a home run.” By doing this, you’re going to excite fans a different way. Just as people listen to lively radio and tv commentators, they look for these same qualities on social media.

Don’t say anything negative about your own team.

Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. I do not care about how bad that airball was. I do not want to hear about it from my own team. Do not talk about how someone choked at the free throw line. Loyal fans will be frustrated and do not want this content. Just like the player, put it behind you and move on.

Obviously, there are a ton of other rules to follow too. But, by doing these small things, your Twitter will at least be on the right track.

 

Unless the next NBA mascot is a Greenwasher, let’s cut it out.

Bernard James warms up for his game during NBA Green Week in 2013. Photo Credits: glenn.shelby

In 2010, the WNBA and the NBA announced its new corporate social responsibility initiative to go green– just like everyone else in the world.

And, it’s wonderful. Don’t get me wrong. We should all be taking steps to protect the environment and reduce plastic use, but we shouldn’t be doing it to be trendy and relevant. We should just do it, because it’s right.

But, if you are going to commit to a CSR cause, do it to its fullest potential. Do not do what the NBA/WNBA has done.

If it’s broken, you fix it.

Two Maverick players attend the Trees for Threes event in 2017. Photo Credit: Mavericks

Since its establishment, the website for NBA-Green, the platform that represents both the WNBA and the NBA’s commitment to the environment, has basically been untouched.

The last “NBA Green Week” update came from 2010 even though the campaign claims to still be running and is actively linked on the NBA Cares website. Photos picture retired players picking weeds and looking like they are still in their prime, emphasizing the outdated-nature of the website.

While it does show semi-recent actions taken by individual team such as the 2017 Trees for Threes campaign by the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA does not seem to enforce any league-wide changes.

The website emphasizes how the NBA/WNBA does not actually care about improving the environment. Instead, the website just confirms that the initiative was what it seemed– a bandwagon effort to hop on a popular trend.

Practice what you preach.

The WNBA/NBA Green campaign emphasizes initiatives like planting trees and saving electricity. The NBA does anything but conserve electricity with 82 game seasons (not including the playoffs). Also, how do trees play into the NBA which allows teams to print paper programs  for each fan at home games?  

While I understand that these are collectible items (I have 40+ of them), I’d be willing to download it online in order to preserve the environment. Teams should too. 

Actually, make the change.

Hundreds of thunder sticks are given to fans every home game. Photo Credit: Shaheen Karolina

The WNBA/NBA allows for teams to freely give fans paper programs, thunder sticks and t-shirts. These are small things that if outlawed could add up to a very significant environmental impact. Recently, the Trail Blazers adopted biodegradable thunder sticks. The NBA could enforce these initiatives league-wide.

While some teams have taken initiative and have started to implement programs such as the San Fransisco Giants’ moment to eliminate all plastic straws and lids from its arena, a lot of teams still allow these plastics. If the league took a stance on any of these issues, it would be a simple fix with a major impact on the environment. 

Focus on programs that align with your mission.

If you aren’t going to put the time into a campaign, just don’t do it. The NBA and WNBA have other CSR programs. The WNBA does work with breast cancer awareness, and the NBA has the NBA Fit campaign, which actually does feature current players. 

Let the individual teams take stances on environmental issues if the league is not going to enforce any changes. Focus more on the issues that are relevant to your organization. It will seem more authentic and more people will care if it seems like the organization cares about the issue too.

 

 

How to Revitalize a Franchise following an injury to a star player

 

Damian Lillard hit the series-winning three against the Thunder on Tuesday night. Photo Credits: Sam Forencich

Ok. Maybe I am just hyped off Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three to win the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but this team’s season was supposed to be over after Jusuf Nurkic’s gruesome leg injury.

I was at the game when Nurk got hurt, and although the Blazers won in a double-overtime thriller, the only thing I could think about was next season. So, how did the Trail Blazers use PR to make fans become reinvested in this season?

The Blazers shared positive messages about the injury.

Following the end of the Portland Trail Blazers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 26, 2019, the Blazers posted this positive message on Instagram. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Having your shin pop through your leg is something that many people do not recover from. But, the Blazers never shared a message that would imply that the injury could be career-ending. Instead, they just shared positive messages that gave the fans hope the Blazers could return to its winning form.

The Blazers did not share updates about the injury.

The Blazers gave fans the latest injury update on March 26, 2019. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Instead of continuing to share new content about Nurkic’s healing process, the Blazers chose to share minimal content about Nurkic’s injury.

Following his surgery, the Blazers shared on Twitter that the surgery was successful, but other than that, its social media posts did not focus on Nurkic. Instead, posts focused on the active team.

The Blazers connected fans with Nurk.

A screenshot of the online portal to send messages to Nurkic. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

The Blazers’ PR team implemented strategies to allow fans to connect with Nurkic following his injury. In fact, at the next home game following his injury, the Blazers created a 6-foot card and allowed fans to sign it.

Additionally, the team offered an online portal for fans not at the game to send personalized messages to Nurkic.

The Blazers included Nurkic on social.

Following a road trip, the Blazers shared a photo of the team with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum holding up a photo of Nurkic on it. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

The PR team has made a point to find and share content that includes Nurkic.

Including Nurkic fills the void many fans felt with him off the court, and by seeing the team rally behind Nurkic following his injury, the fans began to rally behind the team. 

 Social media refocused on Enes Kanter.

The Blazers shared a tweet from Blazer reporter Casey Holdahl who dubbed Kanter as, “Turkish Delight.” Photo Credit: Trail Blazers

Instead of focusing on next season, the Trail Blazers’ PR team focused on its current players and got fans invested in the Blazers’ new center Enes Kanter.

By giving Kanter the nickname Turk, very similar to Nurkic’s nickname of Nurk, the Blazers’ PR team gave fans a little replacement until Nurkic can be healthy again.

The Blazers interacted with him on social media.

The Blazers retweeted Nurkic’s reaction to Lillard’s game-winning three. Photo Credit: Trail Blazers

When Nurkic tweeted about the Blazers’ games, the Trail Blazers’ Twitter account quickly retweeted and commented on his posts. By sharing Nurkic’s posts, the Blazers’ PR team showed that although he may not be on the court, Nurkic is an important piece to this team

Nurkic joined the team– and PR capitalized on it.

The Blazers were down by 15 points in the fourth quarter and then in walks Nurkic, rejoining the team for the first time since his injury. The crowd went wild and so did the team as the Blazers went on to beat the Thunder 118-115.

Nurkic waved to the crowd following the Trail Blazers win. Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer (AP)

The crowd at the game cheered louder after seeing his face on the big screen, and PR made it a point to share his appearance on social media, exciting fans around the world about his return and about the possibility of a Blazers comeback. 

It worked, and the Blazers stamped its ticket to the Western Conference Semifinals. Talk about a story.

So, although an injury to a star player may seem like the end of a season, with good PR, it could be just the beginning of an amazing run.