The career of a professional athlete may not last long on their field of play, but even after retirement, they can still continue to use their brand that was built while playing. That’s what endorsements and branding deals can do for a retired pro athlete. But making substantial deals isn’t just about how well an athlete did as a player; it’s also about reputation, comfort talking in front of a camera or audience, education, and even health … their personal brand that is distinct and different from the team or sport’s brand. Much of that may start long before an athlete ever gets on a pro team. Some of it, hopefully, they learned from parents, coaches, teachers, and even clergy. But when they make it onto a college or pro team, it’s time to really hone their skills outside the game. Sometimes a team’s PR people can work with them when they are in the early stages of their career, or if they are in the first round of a draft pick, they may already have a separate firm willing to work with them.
How Can a PR Agency Help in the Early Days?
First, an evaluation of skills and weaknesses can help determine where to spend more energy. Some people are naturally comfortable speaking in front of crowds and make a good show of it. They think fast and have good responses. Others may need a lot of help with this as well as diction and proper use of language. If the player sounds too much like s/he is from one side of town and wants to represent products that are marketed to the other side, there is going to be a problem. Doesn’t matter which side of town, it just works better to sound reasonably educated.
Just like on the playing field, confidence can take someone a long way. Confidence comes from knowing you do what you do really well. So practice on any issue can change the future of an athlete in huge ways.
Finding Something Unique
Players can set themselves apart by offering something a little different from the rest. Odell Beckham, Jr. is a strong player, but he’s also got a bit of a “bad boy” rep on the field and he’s built some of his career around that trait. As he comes more into his own as a man, he can soften some of that by finding a cause or two he really enjoys and building those into his press portfolio. Right now he’s building sponsorship deals, but he also has his own style when it comes to fashion – that could lead him to deals after his athletic days end.
Athletes should expand into areas not related to sports. Would the athlete’s skills and personality work well with financial institutions, art, or maybe something culinary? There are any number of possibilities. Ronda Rousey, along with acting and modeling, is also involved with video game productions. PR specialists can help an athlete determine what interests them and how that can translate into a future. Karl Malone has turned his retirement into a very lucrative ownership of several car dealerships, several have become sports broadcasters – even outside their native sport— and others, without a bit of direction, just fade into a distant memory.