Telling by the title of my blog, today I am talking about public relations and sports! As you may already know, sports play a major role in the entertainment industry. Public relation sports experts play a very big promotional role in generating public interest, increasing teams’ visibility, and selling out stadiums. The cool thing about sports PR is that the teams vary in size. Big time, professional teams and some large universities have an entire department dedicated to staffing and coordinating a PR team, while smaller colleges may have only a few staff members running the whole PR program.
Sports public relations is just the same as any other PR professional. They organize press conferences, write press releases and respond to media requests. However, sports PR is not a walk in the park. Some may think, “how bad could sports PR be?” Well, they are also responsible to help with difficult and sensitive team, coach, or player situations. A story I would like to bring to your attention is the investigation of the Clippers owner for his alleged racist comments.
In 2014, there was an audio recording found of the Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, making racist comments to his girlfriend. TMZ released a clip of the audio to the public where Sterling was scolding his girlfriend for bringing African-American fans to the games and posting photos of them on social media. Once the audio leaked, Clippers fans, the NBA, and the public went crazy. A former all-star player, Kevin Johnson, took to Twitter the morning the audio was released and said, “TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn’t want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “My wife and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.”
Following this, the National Basketball Players Association president, Chris Paul, entered a press conference where he stated, “On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively,” Paul said. “We have asked [Sacramento] Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps. As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the Finals.”
So as you can see, sports PR is not all fun and games. It was very important for the Clippers PR team to come together and attempt to maintain their solid reputation. They could have lost fans, sponsors, and recruits. The Clippers PR team was very on top of this issue and handled the problem professionally and sincerely.