What to look forward to in Sports PR?

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2015 is going to continue to be an excited year for sports PR. There are many sports events coming up that will need PR tools to add to their campaign.

Before we get to what PR stunts you should be looking out for, let’s review what we’ve learned about PR and the sports industry:

1. Sports figures are treated like celebrities and are strategically used to be the face of their team or sports league. For example, the all stars of NBA visited The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to be part of the segment, “Tonight Show Superlatives.” This media appearance helped gather awareness, and hopefully viewership, for the NBA All Star game. The NBA All Stars were also the center of NCAA’s campaign for March Madness. Another example is NASCAR uses two of their drivers, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Wendell Scott, to gather media attention. Their driver, Carl Edwards, is also seen as a sports celebrity, which is proven through his sponsorship with Subway.

2. On the flip side, non-sports celebrities are used in PR antics to promote sports leagues as well. For example, MLB and Will Ferrell teamed up to create awareness for the upcoming MLB seasons, all while raising money for Stand Up for Cancer and Cancer for College. As part of the stunt, Will Ferrell traveled to different stadiums and played different positions on the field during spring training.

3. PR is not only used to promote sports leagues and teams. It is also used to create awareness for sporting events. Some examples include: the 30th annual ASICS LA Marathon, who has hired Ketchum Sports & Entertainment to create media buzz for the event; the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, who is the topic of Atos’ press release; and the Super Bowl, who sadly just lost a PR executive, Lee Remmel, who worked the first 40 Super Bowl games.

4. Sports leagues use memorable sports figure as a way to celebrate those players and to create media buzz for their league. For example, MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson on April 15th, since that day in 1947 marked Robinson’s first MLB game. It is an annual tradition for all the teams to wear the number 42 on their uniform. Jackie Robinson Day was trending on social media, which is great coverage for MLB.

With the age of social media, there are many opportunities for the sports industry to reach out to their fans. These PR and social media tools have gathered awareness for the sports leagues and sports events, which hopefully results in increased viewership, ticket sales, and attractiveness to sponsors.

And now, without any further ado, here are the upcoming PR stories to watch out for:

1. Super Bowl’s XLIX “Deflategate”

2. Boston’s 2014 Summer Olympic Bid Campaign

3. NFL Crisis Continuation

4. Major League Baseball Welcomes a New Commissioner and A-Rod Returns

5. Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games Sports Marketing Campaigns

PR in 2015: Five Sports PR Stories to Watch


Rio 2016 Olympic and Atos Press Release

Even one of the largest amateur competitions in the sports industry needs some PR love to get their message across. Earlier this month, Atos, an international leader in digital services and Worldwide IT Partner of the International Olympic Committee, sent out a press release to inform the public that they are opening the IT Integration Testing Lab for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In the press release, it is stated that the IT Atos provides is essential to the success of these Games. For example, Atos supplies the systems the results around the world in less than a second on television, online, and multiple devices. They also support the recruitment and training of 70,000 volunteers, as well as providing those in the Olympic Family traveling internationally with a visa to enter Brazil. The Olympic Family consists of media, TOP Partners, athletes, and sports officials.

As explained in the press release, the IT Integration Testing Lab will be where Atos test and train all IT related systems in order to ensure the Games run smoothly.

The Rio 2016 Games is a great opportunity for Atos to hype up their public image. The intense amount of IT operations the Olympic Games needs will make the success of Atos a grand victory. The press release concludes with words of encouragement and excitement from Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Atos representatives.

Atos opens IT Integration Testing Lab for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Packers Lose a Beloved PR Executive

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Some sad news to report in the Sports PR world: Lee Remmel, the Packers long-time PR executive, died last week at the age of 90. Remmel started his career with the Packers in 1945 as a sports writer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, then moved to an executive position in the publicist department in 1974. In 2004, he was named team historian, leading to his retirement three years later.

Remmel worked the first 40 Super Bowls. He worked as a journalist for his first eight, and then worked the remaining games as a member of either the NFL’s auxiliary media relations staff or the Packers’ front office.

In 2003, the Lambeau Field press box was named after him. Remmel is also a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Brett Favre, the Packers former quarterback, spoke out about the sad news and said, “He was the best. I cherish my times with Lee. I will tell Leland J. Remmel stories as long as I’m able.”

The Packers team president, Mark Murphy, went on to say, “The Packers lost a cherished family member today. He was a great ambassador and through his public relations work, he helped multiple generations of Packers fans learn more about the team.”

Rest in peace, Lee Remmel.

Lee Remmel, long time Packers PR executive, dies at 90

MLB Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day

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April 15, 1947 marks Jackie Robinson’s first MLB game, thus breaking the color barrier in baseball. To celebrate his legacy, MLB participated in their annual antics on what is known as Jackie Robinson Day.

This past Wednesday, every player wore Robinson’s number, 42, on their uniform, as they do every year. MLB’s official site also listed nine character traits that allowed Robinson to open the door for for other African American baseball players. The league’s honoring of Robinson continued with allowing his widow, Rachel, to throw the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.

Jackie Robinson Day is an opportunity for the MLB to promote their friendly community and their admiration for tradition and those who paved the way in baseball. Many teams and players took to social media to express their excitement of being part of Jackie Robinson Day and wearing his number on their back. These social media posts are a great way public relations tool because they communicate to the fans that they are part of a brand that is respectful and grateful. It also shows the league as a united front. While celebrating the great Jackie Robinson, the MLB also hopes to spark future interest.

Jackie Robinson Day 2015: How Sports World Is Honoring MLB Icon

Subway Switches Teams

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Through an ad during the Daytona 500, Subway confirmed that they will be continuing their sponsorship of NASCAR driver, Carl Edwards, thus following him from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing. This is a decision NASCAR and marketing enthusiasts have speculated.

Subway and Edwards have been together for six years at Roush Fenway, and they will continue their partnership through Edward’s No. 19 Toyota Camry four times during the Sprint Cup season at Auto Club Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, and Talladega Superspeedway.

Paul Bamundo, the director of sports marketing, public relations, and partnerships for Subway, explained that their relationship with Roush Fenway is good, but they couldn’t give up the brand equity they created with Edwards. For this reason, they felt switching teams to stick with Edwards was in their best interest.

In order to announce the switch, Subway’s CMO, Tony Pace, created an ad featuring team owner and former NFL coach Joe Gibbs alongside Edwards. The spot included Edwards working out in a gym alongside Subway’s endorser, Jay Glazer. The two discuss their sandwich preferences, to which Coach Gibbs responds by saying their tastes are too strong for his liking.

Subway switches race teams with Edwards

NASCAR’s Marketing Team is Moving On Up

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According to PR Week, NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing Communications team has earned the first place honor for their marketing efforts this year. The team was particularly praised for their efforts to remove barriers to entry by highlighting the sport’s diversity. Their strategy involved generating media coverage around Darrell Wallace Jr. and Wendell Scott. In 2013, Wallace became the first black stock-car driver to win a national series race since 1963, while Scott is the first black individual to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.

The marketing team’s efforts have also resulted in an impressive growth of their social media following. Their results included a 13% increase in Facebook, 15% increase in Twitter, 48% increase in Instagram, 34% increase in YouTube, and 25% increase in Pinterest.

They also had a fair amount of damage control to do during NASCAR’s season that they handled well, according to PR Week. One of these crisis included last August’s fatal accident involving two-time Sprint Cup Series, Tony Stewart. Overall, NASCAR’s honor is based on their success in facing challenges, as well as taking advantage of opportunities that come their way.

In-House PR Team of the Year 2015     

The Dance Never Ends – NCAA Goes On…And On…And On…And On

Yes, I know the above title is not the correct Journey lyrics, but I needed to grab your attention with my silly word play. With March Madness upon us, the NBA has launched their first campaign, revolving around the current NCAA events. The campaign centers around the league’s athletes as they showcase your favorite basketball players’ greatest moments while playing for the NCAA back in the day.

The campaign takes a clever visual approach. The footage shows the athlete’s winning moments from their NCAA days, and then through the use of vibrant colors and animations their jersey transitions into the athlete’s given NBA team they now play for. The campaign is basically here to remind us that we as the consumer love success stories and the evolution of our idol’s careers, so don’t forget to tune in to the NBA playoffs and wallow in pride as you watch your favorite athletes “all grown up” since their NCAA days.

Pro Stars Morph Back to College Selves in NBA’s Striking March Madness Ads