NASCAR Like Never Before

NASCAR couldn’t have asked for a better start to its season, according to Joe Favorito. The historic Daytona 500 was delayed due to rain, something that hasn’t happened in at least a decade. Furthermore, this wasn’t any sort of event being postponed. It was NASCAR, the fastest growing sport in the US each year since 2003.

So why was the Daytona 500 any different from before, besides the fact that the gun was fired on a Monday? Because Brad Keselowski tweeted and uploaded pictures to his Twitter account during the middle of the race. Yes it’s as cool as it sounds.

Now, I am in no means a fan of NASCAR, but I have to admit that the idea of drivers tweeting and uploading pictures during their pit stops is about as cool as it gets. None of us know what it’s like to drive a car upward of 200 mph, all while racing for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a sort of pressure that we can’t fully wrap our heads around and probably never will be able to.

This may fly in the face of everything the government tells us about cell phone use while driving, but as long as the results are this breathtaking then I honestly could care less. Keselowski’s photos are groundbreaking, and for a number of reasons. As stated earlier, he is just the latest example of social media and sports colliding and making two worlds one. Furthermore, this is yet another direction that social media can potentially take us in the sports world.

It’s not every day that you get to see candid photos from the cockpit of a NASCAR car racing during the Daytona 500, but hopefully with the cooperation of a few parties, NASCAR can make it become more of the norm than the exception.

How to Ruin Your Social Media Reputation

Yes, you read the title right. Too often people are concerned with how to connect with others via social networking, instead of worrying about how what they broadcast to the public and how it can affect them. According to Lauren Dugan, there are 7 easy ways to totally destroy your reputation on Twitter. It’s safe to say that most of those reasons are self explanatory and none are shocking or surprising. However, the fact that a list like this exists is proof that we still have a ways to go in order to utilize social media to its full capacity.

Do we all have a Twitter and/or Facebook, yes. Do we all occasionally tweet or post statuses without completely thinking it through, sure. Is that an okay thing in the public relations industry? Absolutely not.

A member of the public relations community should never use social media to promote or broadcast their interests without fully understanding the consequences that come along with using the medium. One benefit is that you can literally reach millions of people within a matter of seconds, however, that is also the same exact reason that one must tread lightly when embarking on a social media campaign for the first time.

It is everything you imagine and more. Thousands of followers, thousands of “likes” on Facebook, ad millions of mentions. That is the perfect introduction to the social media world, but it rarely happens, unless your name is Jeremy Lin. Lin is one of the few exceptions that I can confidently say is the prime example of how to build a teflon social media reputation. Unfortunately, for every Jeremy Lin there are 5-10 examples of how to destroy a social media reputation before it even has a fair amount of time to build.

Since things spread so quickly in the world of social media, it is more important now than ever to ensure that you don’t inflict any self wounds to the online reputation that is necessary for success.

Dark Side of Social Media

As promised earlier in the blogging season, I am going to examine the drearier side of social media as it relates to sports. We always hear about how athletes can use social media to build their personal brands and provide intrigue for their perspective sports. However, we rarely hear about what takes place when an athlete misues social media.

Using social media without thinking can have large effects for athletes. It can lead to fines, suspensions, and magazine covers. All of this has been discussed previously, and there are numerous examples of what occurs when everyone isn’t included in the planning. Social Media is relatively new on the scene, but it is also something that millenials¬† have grown up with.

This creates an interesting dynamic, because many of today’s new professional athletes are millenials as well. Because of when they were born, many of today’s athletes have a larger understanding of what it takes to make an organization succesful in the techonologic world than an average Joe would. Athletes today are aware of the importance of engaging the audience, and want every chance to be able to do so.

This can lead to the occasional fine or suspension, depending on how the player chooses to reach out to his fan base, but it is the start of something special. These days we are programmed to “think before you tweet,” which is good advice for the most part. But what happens when we truly want to speak out about something that is bothering us? Are we concerned with coming across as politically correct, or getting the message across that was important to us and the rest of the community?

Social media is something that is growing and changing every day, and I am thankful to be a part of that. However, students need to be exposed more to the harsh realities of the social media world.

Gatorade and Cam Newton. Match Made In Heaven?

Gatorade is the world’s sports beverage of choice. Their ad campaigns make you question yourself if you don’t have it “in” you, and their spokespersons are always the epitome of cool. So why did they choose Cam Newton?

Here in Eugene, Ore., most people share the same opinion about Mr. Newton. They feel he is inconsiderate, a cheater, a scam artist and a laptop thief, among many other things. However, I don’t see the same things. After all, how differently would the people of Eugene, Ore. view Newton if he hadn’t beaten their beloved Ducks in the BCS national championship game en route to his Heisman trophy winning, record setting season at Auburn? My guess is if Cam Newton takes down Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners on his way to a national title, instead of the University of Oregon, that the people of Eugene would feel the same way as the people of Auburn, Alabama do.

He is a once in a lifetime athlete. His one season at Auburn and his rookie season in the NFL tell you so. He is a rare talent that comes along once in a decade, so why don’t people agree with him being the new spokesperson for Gatorade?

For starters, Gatorade tabbed Newton as the only other NFL player besides the Manning brothers (Eli and Peyton) to represent the organization. The brothers have a combined three Superbowl rings between the two of them, and are certainly on a different playing field than Newton, for now at least. By tabbing Newton as a spokesperson of the company, Gatorade is letting its consumers know that it has an eye toward the future. Gatorade only selects the best of the best to represent its brand, and the fact that Newton was chosen only after his rookie season speaks volumes.

What do I think of Cam Newton as a spokesperson for Gatorade? I think he’s the future of the NFL, and the perfect choice for a company aiming to revitalize its organization.

NBA All-Star Weekend. Success, Failure, or Both?

NBA All Star weekend has come and gone, and by now we’ve heard a fair amount of both criticism and praise for the event filled extravaganza. It was a weekend that had it’s high points and low points, but was mostly forgettable. Or was it?

There are those who say that the NBA’s All Star weekend was an overall failure because it lacked true star power, especially in the dunk contest, and they are partially correct. However, deeming the entire weekend a failure simply because of a lack of stars is unfair to league. For the first time ever, the NBA put the outcome of the dunk contest in the hands of the fans, and brought back the popular All Star Pulse feature.

The NBA deserves applause for gearing everything toward the fan. The league is in the forefront when it comes to using social media as a way to improve fan interaction, and this is the perfect example. The dunk contest may lack identifiable names to the casual fan, but the league still reeled them in by allowing them to control the outcome. Don’t we all wish for a little more control and power anyway?

In Peter Robert Casey’s article, Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s VP of Marketing, says “Our mission for all star weekend…is to enhance our fans engagement and enjoyment of the game.. That’s what social media is about for us. It’s a way for fans to interact with each other on a global basis.” In today’s mobile world, the social media campaign that the NBA launched based around All Star weekend is the best way to do so. 2,949 Twitter and Facebook mentions per hour are one sign that the strategy was effective.

So was ALL Star weekend a success? As a sports fan and public relations enthusiast, I say yes. The social media campaign yielded results that exceeded expectations and that is a large determining factor. As far as star power is concerned…I say let the stars shine on Sunday, and leave Friday and Saturday to the up and comers.

Until next time!

What Will We Do Next?

Public Relations and sports go together like peanut butter and jelly. The two were invented seemingly with each other in mind. Both industries continually evolve and force you to adjust or be left behind. Similarly, both industries constantly look for “what’s next.” We are constantly searching for the next young sports phenom, the next great championship player, or the next social media site to take the world by storm.

Since we are society that is always looking ahead, I started to wonder…what’s next for sports and social media? We’ve seen athletes take and/or lose command of the social media world, and we’ve seen sports organizations use social media for promotions. We have seen it all, or so it appears.

What’s next in the worlds of social media and sports is what Colorado State University basketball coach Tim Miles did during halftime of a recent game against UNLV. Coach Miles did what so many coaches across America despise…he tweeted during a game. Some may say this is uncharacteristic of a head coach and frowned upon, but Miles’s tweet has the potential to change television broadcasts forever.

We’ve all watched a sporting event where the coach is stopped before heading into the locker room for halftime to partake in an interview that he has no interest in. Here at the University of Oregon, we are very familiar with this, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Miles single-handedly took the first step in eliminating the half time interview. Imagine the possibilities.

Could this potentially lead to controversial things being said by head coaches? Sure. But imagine the insight you could get from a tweet or two from your favorite team’s head coach right before or after halftime. It almost certainly would be more interesting than what is said during any run of the mill halftime interview, with Chip Kelly being one of the exceptions of course.

Tim Miles provided sports and social media with a potential gateway into the new frontier. Hopefully, we aren’t too cautious to explore it.

The Rules are Changing

Change is either embraced or shunned. You either adapt and survive or die off.

This is the problem a number of big corporations face today, with the ever changing landscape of business and social media. Nilofer Merchant of the Harvard Business Review addresses this issue in her blog post Rules of the Social Era. She raises several interesting points, the main one being that many businesses still operate under the Porter Value Chain model.

It is a battle of old school versus new school, so to speak, and old school is losing.

With the advent of social media, everything forever changed. The Porter Value Chain model was an effective way of running an organization for a long time and still is to a certain extent, but it no longer fully meets the requirements of consumers. We want to know how an organization works, why they choose to operate the way they day, and much more. Essentially, we want to know the inner workings of an organization, not just what the company does to produce its product.

That sort of insight is difficult to provide without fully embracing social media, and not in the way that many fans of the traditional business model think. Some organizations have begun the foray into the social media world, but aren’t involved deeply enough. Social media success isn’t based solely on the number of “likes” or followers you have. It is about engagement.

Consumers want engaging conversations with businesses, and they deserve it. Social media has made it easier than ever to fully communicate with large businesses or corporations to express satisfaction, concern or curiosity about the future. It is all at our fingertips, and choosing not to become involved sends the wrong message.

Does the organization have something to hide? Do they not care about what the consumer has to say? Are they losing their grip on their field? These are all questions that certainly come to mind when a business chooses not to fully immerse itself in the social media world. I don’t speak for everyone, but I know I wouldn’t want those sort of things being said about my company.

Become engaged, before it’s too late!