Who Is Winning The PR Battle For The Fans, The NBA or The Players?

If you haven’t been keeping up with the details of the NBA lockout here- and shame on YOU if aren’t, shameless plug- Then you’ve been receiving the bulk of your info probably via ESPN, Fox Sports etc. I’d also venture to say that where you get your information from probably shapes your opinion of the on-going negotiations.

Going with that theory, I checked in with Sakita Holley, CEO of House of Success, a NY-based lifestyle brand relations firm, to get her thoughts on who is winning the PR battle between the league and it’s players and, to get her thoughts on how social networks help (or hurt) athletes marketability:

 SJ: Do you think the NBA player’s twitter campaign had any effect?

SH: At this stage in the game, the players’ moment of solidarity using the #StandUnited hashtag and tweeting ‘Let Us Play,’ is a futile effort. Most NBA players haven’t been using their social networking platforms to their full potential, so initiating this one-off activism effort to grab the attention of team owners and NBA executives is probably a lost cause. If they want their twitter campaign to have any effect, it has to be a sustained effort over time…even AFTER the lockout ends.

SJ: David Stern is taking the more traditional approach for his updates. Do you think that’s because it’s more in line with the audience he’s speaking to? Is it more effective?

SH: David Stern isn’t the most progressive executive when it comes to communications. He makes statements when he feels like he needs to, and I honestly don’t think he cares about whether or not his messages are resonating or if they’re effective.

SJ:  Do you feel athlete’s are hurting their marketability by using twitter?

By using Twitter? No.

Athletes hurt themselves and their personal brand by the WAY they use Twitter. A lot of athletes and celebrities feel that because it’s “their Twitter account” they can say and do whatever they want, ignoring the fact that they are public figures and are bound to a different set of rules.
They don’t realize that 140 characters on Twitter or a status update on Facebook can increase or decrease their brand value. They also don’t understand the amount of money, endorsements and opportunities that are lost based solely on how they conduct themselves online.
Because of this disconnect, I will be consulting with athletes and their organizations through my firm (House of Success) about the proper ways to use social networking platforms. Because even though athletes have their individual brand, when they conduct themselves properly online- and off, it has a positive effect on their team, the league and the overall sports community.
SJ:  What’s the one piece of PR advice you’d give to athletes about social networking?

Don’t underestimate the power of social networking platforms. There is an example almost every single day about how one tweet made or broke someone’s career.

My #1 piece of advice for anyone using Twitter is to avoid using offensive language (curse words, N-word, etc), because it is a consumer-facing platform. A lot of people get offended when you tell them that they shouldn’t curse or “tweet how they speak” because they feel that if they omit this language then they aren’t being authentic or true to themselves.

Too bad they don’t realize that “keeping it real,” isn’t doing anything to elevate their brand.

Sakita Holley is the CEO of House of Success, a NY-based lifestyle brand relations firm. For more information about the social media training program, please email [email protected]