PR in Sports: Iowa Coach Thanks PR for Transformation

sports public relations

Public relations continue to play instrumental roles in the success of brands and public figures across a wide range of industries. Great PR campaigns keep people like Kim Kardashian in the media, launch a platform for Coca-Cola’s place as a household name, and transform tech companies like Apple from startup to established forces.

Recently, the sports industry also benefited greatly from the use of PR tactics to improve communications, respond to crises, raise funds, protect players’ images, and grow their audience.

Responding to Crisis

For instance, Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head football coach constantly looks for new ways to improve. He does this for his players and himself. After watching his last two press releases in 2014, Ferentz decided to hire a public relations team to improve his communications with the media.

Ferentz stated, “It was an awakening for me to watch those two press conferences… In a nutshell, I did a really poor job. It’s not something I was proud of, and I was committed to trying to do a better job in that regard and sought some people out that could help me in that area.”

Through this experience, he learned the importance of placing the image of the organization he worked for above his own personal take on the disappointing end to the season. Working with public relations specialists reminded him he is part of a team, and that his comments and behavior in the media reflect on the rest of the team, especially when things go awry.

His experience with PR experts and the changes that ensued showed how PR can help sports leaders to communicate effectively during a crisis to protect sports organizations and their players.

Growing an Audience

Public relations play a big part in the success of sports all around the world. Even the NFL – arguably America’s biggest sports engine – employs integrated PR tactics boosting its visibility and growing a fandom.

The sports industry is so good at doing this they draw big turnouts for events even when no games actually take place on the field.  For instance, on April 28, the 2016 National Football League Draft began. This marked the first of three scheduled days when all 32 teams would select players, fresh out of college.

The draft is arguably one of the biggest sporting events, following the Super Bowl. It’s also the biggest sporting event that doesn’t involve anyone actually playing a sport. In fact, the 2014 NFL Draft garnered nearly 46 million viewers for the three days it aired.

But how did they do it? Big sports names like ESPN and the NFL rely on the beastly public relations engines behind them, boosting visibility through PR stunts, campaigns, and the art of storytelling. In essence, they turn an otherwise mundane event into something more akin to a reality show.

These PR tactics account for the billions of dollars the sports industry makes, and the reason even non-sports watchers tune to the Super Bowl almost every year. At the college level, it helps properly represent universities and protects players from bad publicity where possible.

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