Category Archives: Mike Schaffer

The NFL’s $230M Jackpot: In-Game Jersey Ads

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As the NFL barrels toward a potential March 4 lockout (potentially leaving a comically ridiculous $9 billion in annual revenue on the table), there have been a myriad of ideas, excuses and fanciful dreams from all sides as to how the league, the owners and the players can collectively get richer.

One idea that I haven’t seen — until now — is intriguing, but controversial: selling ad space on player’s jerseys. And as the New York Post reported recently, more than $230 million in annual advertising revenue is up for grabs if the NFL is willing to go the way of European soccer teams, NASCAR and other leagues that have opened up the most valuable advertising real estate in sports.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this idea. Continue reading

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Everything’s Bigger in Texas – Even PR Headaches

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If you haven’t heard by now, the NFL had a giant game in Dallas a few weeks ago. It brought in buco-bucks, drew the largest viewership in television history and made a lot of fans from a small town in Wisconsin very happy. So one would think that the league left the Lone Star State feeling awesome and without problems.

Well, if you haven’t been living under a rock and you pay attention to sports, or news for that matter, you know that the league is facing a major PR issue that may tarnish their image. This doesn’t concern the looming lockout of the players (a PR conundrum for another day), but rather folks who fill their coffers – the fans. You see, there were over 90,000 fans who purchased tickets to come to the game, problem was the seats weren’t available for over 1,000 of these ticket holders to be sat in during the big game. This was because the seats were not completed and did not pass muster of the fire marshal. Continue reading

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Fixing the Toxic Talk PRoblem

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I am not what you would call a “politico.”  The closest I come to being a political junkie is staying up late to watch election returns.

However, I do live and work in Washington, DC, where it is impossible to NOT get pulled into the machine from time to time.

Over the course of my career, I’ve dabbled in a few political events.  I’ve met politicians from “my” persuasion that I didn’t enjoy spending time with and had terrific encounters with officials from the “other team.”

I’ve spent the majority of my career in sports, where there is a clear winner and a loser.  (We won’t get into the head-scratching NFL overtime rules here.) Continue reading

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The Moby Effect

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Moby is a unique musician.  His music is somewhere between dancehall and coffeeshop, and that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve seen him at a stadium show, which was not the right venue to enjoy his music, since there were no dancefloors or lattes within reach.  But his performance was incredible.

So what the heck does Moby have to do with PR?

Simple: A Moby song is like a bad story pitch.

Say what?

Follow me.

Moby’s songs are catchy because they are repetitive.  Very repetitive. Continue reading

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ROI Measurement

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Woman catching snowflakes in her mouthPsst! I have a secret!

There is no one way to measure the return on investment of social media. None. Each campaign is kinda like a thumbprint…or a snowflake…totally different from start to finish.

The National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group asked me to give them ways to increase their ROI at a recent conference. So I came up with the following presentation, affectionately entitled “Show Me The Money.” Continue reading

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The Sore Thumb of Social Media

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HammerOne recent evening, I was listening to a talk radio station while driving home after a business trip.

(As an aside, did anyone else think they would never ever ever listen to talk radio when they were kids?)

I don’t recall the exact topic of conversation, but it was insignificant until the host’s last line: “You’ve gotta be careful.  Twitter, Facebook, social media will hurt you.” At that point, I started making odd faces at my digital dial, because there was obviously a disconnect between the host and the actual concepts he was discussing.

You see, social media platforms like The Twitter (thank you, Betty White, for making that an acceptable phrase), The Facebook (thank you, Justin Timberlake, for reminding us why they dropped the “The”) and others are tools.  Tools can’t hurt you unless you make them. Continue reading

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Judgment Day: Clients vs. Media

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Judge Striking GavelYou’ve seen Terminator 2.  And if you haven’t, stop reading this post.  We are not friends.  Watch the movie, then come back here, so we can resume our regularly-scheduled friendship.

Hint: If you haven’t seen the movie, this is where you should say “Stay here, I’ll be back.”  I’ll wait.

Now that we’re all on the same page (and friends again), you are quite familiar with Judgment Day, the day where the robots take over and life as we know it ends.

Catastrophes and crises happen, especially in the PR world.  Every publicist has a “war story.”  Or ten.  Some of the juicier ones I’ve been a part of: a mall fired their Santa, 90% of media passes were revoked by the client 24 hours before a major-name hiphop/R&B concert, and a basketball team’s two biggest stars basically sat out a full-season injured.  Oh, there are more. Continue reading

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SM 102: Social Media for (UNC) Jocks

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(CC) flickr // benuski

Last week, the University of North Carolina rolled out a new social media. Instead of increasing access to student athletes, the policy has coaches and/or administrators serving as the social media director for their team (read more here & here). Seems a bit extreme pulling folks more astute with X’s and O’s and game planning to monitoring 140 character messages.

Aside from tapping our resident sports guys, we also tapped into the psyche of a pair of UNC alumni to see what they thought of this new plan. For those of you counting at home, there are four contributors to this post, a first for PRBC.

True Engagement
Rebecca Denison – Class of ’09

I spent four years walking around campus just hoping I’d get to catch a glimpse of guys like Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green. At Carolina, tests and presentations were often rescheduled because the team had made it to the next round of the tourney. I will forever bleed blue and cheer for Roy’s boys.

When guys like Marcus Ginyard started to join Twitter, I was thrilled because it was probably the best way for me to get to know UNC players and show the team support. Censoring and monitoring these guys only takes away the authentic interaction they have with fellow classmates who may not get the chance otherwise. Yeah, that sounds a bit lame, but wouldn’t you want to interact with a basketball legend one-on-one if you could?

Beyond this loss of authenticity, the spirit behind the new rules is also an issue. UNC’s undergraduate journalism program is considered one of the best in the country, and to have the school’s athletic department enact a policy like this is just plain embarrassing.

Unofficial Ambassadors
Aven James – UNC Class of ’06

UNC recently unveiled an updated social media policy that has been called “harsh” – and while the UNC alum in me might agree, the B2B PR pro has to admit the policy just makes good business sense.  And let’s be honest – isn’t college athletics really a business these days?

Though I admittedly haven’t seen the whole policy, it addresses a number of issues we’d advise a client to touch on:

●        Responsibility & Good Judgment: Student athletes, whether they like it or not, are representatives of their University.  As such, they need to exercise good judgment when posting on public forums and refrain from comments that could negatively impact the “organization.”  And the “organization” needs to pay attention to what’s being said.

●        Audience: Students and fans are an important audience for UNC athletics.  They’re the “consumer;” the buyer of UNC’s “product.”  Therefore, UNC has a responsibility to consider what posts/comments might alienate its fan base.  

●        Consequences: A sound social media policy should address the consequences for “bad behavior.”  UNC has experienced first-hand the risks associated with social media and they’ve created a policy that, they hope, will mitigate them.

All that being said, the devil is always in the details.  With the ability to monitor and even remove posts, UNC could take the policy too far – and if they do so, miss out on an opportunity to engage its fan base via social media.

Pro v. Student
Mike Schaffer

Congratulations, NCAA! The University of North Carolina has helped you further blur the line between enrolled student and paid employee. In Chapel Hill a coach or administrator will be monitoring players’ social media accounts for violations. Yes, that’s a public university chipping away at the students’ individual rights – sounds a little fishy to me.

How much control over a person does their university have over them? Should they have access to student-athletes’ social media accounts, as the policy demands?  And why just student athletes? What about student government, student media or student workers? Seems like the college is flexing their muscles to protect their revenue generating assets.

Do you actually think the star point guard will be judged on the same scale as the back-up women’s coxswain?

I’m all for educating players on how to be on their best behavior online, on the field and in daily life. However, the UNC plan, as it’s been presented, is all about “Big Brother Watching.”

Learning is Learning
Jeff Esposito

It may sound crazy, but this policy is a good thing. While my co-contributors raise some valid objections, they are missing the silver lining in this grey cloud. College is a place for kids to get an education and foundation for a future career. Sure some of the players affected by this new policy will play with balls for a living, but the vast majority of the student athletes will not.

Either way, they need to learn the professional implications of being a dumbass on social media. We’ve all heard horror stories of people getting fired and some of us even monitor what is being said about a company online and may see dumb things posted co-workers.

Sure getting to know these athletes may be cool, but they are representatives of a brand. How many brand reps do you know that really give 100% behind the scenes access? Twitter is big business and if that means some big brother so be it.

The athletes who do turn pro will have stricter regulations from their respective leagues. Just as Chad Ochocinco how much a tweet can cost.

Well there you have our in-house experts’ perspectives. What do you think of the issue?

Aven James

Rebecca, Mike, and Jeff are PRBC regulars.  You can get their contact info and details, as always, right here.  Aven James, a first time PRBC contributor, is a Senior Account Executive at Bliss PR (yes, Elizabeth Sosnow’s firm – another PRBC regular) where she focuses on media relations in the B2B and professional services sector.

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4.5 Tips for Bulletproof PR

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Wouldn’t it be fantastic if PR pros got the communications equivalent of a bulletproof vest upon college graduation? Come on, we’ve all needed a little bit if kevlar from time to time! Since such a product doesn’t exist (although it should), here are 4 Tips to Bulletproof PR!

Tip #0.5: Have this song playing in the background while you read this. It helps.

Tip #1: Plan Start to Finish For a plan to be useful, it needs to go as far ahead as possible. Of course, it’s subject to change for any of a million different reasons, but it goes back to the old writing adage that it’s easier to edit than to create. The act of creating a long-term plan forces you to think about causes and effects of your campaign. Before you send out one release, make sure your entire team (and of course, any client contacts), know the next steps. From a client relations standpoint, having a plan reinforces your image as an expert.

Tip #2: Anticipate the Bad

Whippet looking sad

Poop Happens. Know it, accept it, plan for it and be ready to deal with it at all times. Look at it with this analogy. If you take your dog for a walk and bring a plastic bag with you, when your precious pup does his…uhhh…business…you don’t end up with poop-covered hands and a smell that won’t go away. The more you think about, discuss and prepare for the inevitable moment when the stuff hits the fan, the more bulletproof you’ll be.

Tip #3: Be Honest and Transparent What’s one sure way to NOT be bulletproof? Get caught in lies and Man's screaming facedeceptions. Just look at the recent BP oil spill as a “How Not To” guide. Seemingly every day, there as been a report of the public being misled on the entire incident, from the initial explosion to the clean-up efforts. Sometimes the truth can hurt. A lot. Like to no end. However, if you tell the truth from the start, it’s ALWAYS better than being caught in a lie down the road. Protect yourself and your client by just not lying.

Tip #4: Know When To Stop Talking Perhaps the biggest lesson a PR pro can learn is when shut the hell up. We are a gabby sort, us PR folks. We like to talk, share, learn, etc., etc., etc. But knowing when to stop talking and sharing is critical. Every PR pro I know has inadvertently said something they shouldn’t have to a reporter. It’s OK to not pick up the phone or wait a little while before returning an email. I know it sounds like a direct contradiction to Tip #3 (be honest and transparent), but saying NOTHING is much different than misleading.

What other tips for Bulletproof PR do you have?

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