Maintaining an athlete’s positive image the most basic PR strategy


When speaking about sports, the most basic public relations strategy is maintaining a positive image. Players are icons, heroes, legends. The best ones are remembered for something great they’ve done; they are remembered for building a positive image and sticking to it. Athletes contribute to their communities, perform community service, donate money to charities and become philanthropists. Although great athletes did not deploy specific public relations strategies, they work on building a positive image, and they brand themselves outside of professional sports.

However, there are many athletes that forget that all eyes are on them. They make foolish mistakes regarding their image, which sometimes cannot be reversed. I would like to compare two athletes that tainted their reputations and tried to rebuild them. In 2007, Michael Vick was indicted on dog fighting charges and spent two years in a federal penitentiary. Vick returned to the NFL in 2009, where he was branded as an animal abuser.

In 2006, after a game in Boston, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Myers was arrested for punching his wife in the face. As a professional athlete, the incident with Myers and his wife was amplified, and Myers found himself labeled as a wife beater.

The major difference between Vick and Myers is how they handled the incident after the fact. After serving his jail sentence, Vick began working with the Humane Society to combat dog fighting, reported Time. His former home, where the dog fights occurred, has been transformed into an animal rehab clinic, which Vick has voiced his support for. Vick works on rebuilding his image by speaking out against the crime that he committed and helping to aid abused animals.

Myers, on the other hand, handled his situation completely wrong. The man had been labeled a wife beater, but he wanted to show the world what a nice, loving guy he was. So what did he do? He took a reporter and photographer to a gun range. According to a Yahoo! Sports article, Myers told the reporter that Myers said he liked to shoot guns, and he has a friend who’s a former Navy Seal that taught him to use weapons, which he takes interest in. Not exactly the best thing to tell people when you are trying to appear all warm and fuzzy, huh?

Branding and image is plays a large role in athletics, especially when an athlete’s actions are amplified. So here are a few tips if you are an athlete:

1) Don’t do something illegal such as dog fighting or punching your wife. That’s sure to give you a negative image, and it could be hard to change people’s perceptions of you after the fact.

2) If you do do something illegal, remember the best way to rebuild your image is to refrain from participating in activities that reinforce people’s negative perceptions of you.

3) Rebuild a positive image by giving back to the community, donating to charities, participating in community service or becoming a philanthropist for a specific cause.

4) Don’t commit more crimes after you’ve rebuilt your image. Show that you committed a mistake, not that you’re a repeat offender.

These are just basic steps, but following these steps will keep a positive light on a lot of athletes.

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2 responses to “Maintaining an athlete’s positive image the most basic PR strategy”

  1. asharonson says :

    Great Post Rachel! I agree, athletes are viewed as role models and even, heros. Their image and change in a heart beat. Many athletes positive image can change due to one fault. It is important about how they react to the situation, not just simply for them, but for their fans who believe in them. I also like your tip, “Don’t do something illegal such as dog fighting or punching your wife.” You would think that would be obvious, but I guess some athletes need reminding!

    • Rachel Starr says :

      Thanks, Ashley! That tip does seem obvious, but you’d think that more athletes would know not to do such things! Athletes, celebrities and politicians all have to be careful because their lives are center stage for everyone to see and judge.
      Thanks for your comment!

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