Image matters, even when you’re making $20 million a year

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul doesn’t want you to be mad at him.

Why would you be?  Well, if you for some reason liked former Clippers’ coach Vinny Del Negro, you might be.

If you follow the Clippers, you know that Del Negro was let go as the Clippers coach.  I am a Lakers fan myself, but the story in today’s LA Times caught my eye —,0,3427555.story

When it was announced a few weeks ago that the Clippers would not be extending Del Negro’s contract, a flurry of articles appeared that all but said it was because Paul wanted him out.  Some stories also added Blake Griffin as a co-conspirator.

To some, and apparently Paul, it gives the NBA superstar a harsh image.  Nobody wants to look like a guy who gets another guy fired.  The same situation happened with Dwight Howard when he was with the Orlando Magic and didn’t particularly care for coach Stan Van Gundy (why do fired coaches all have three names?)  Howard denied he demanded that Van Gundy be fired, but he was fired anyway. To keep Howard happy, they the Magic obliged and fired Van Gundy.  It didn’t do them much good because Howard left Orlando for the Lakers anyway.

I am a PR marketing pro, not a professional athlete.  But there has to be something about stepping into an arena in front of 19,000 fans all of them knowing or thinking that you care more about your career than other’s.  Even contracts valued upwards of $20 million a year, as Paul can get when he re-signs, doesn’t mean high profile athletes don’t care about their image.

So the Clippers front office made it clear to The Times that it was a “team” decision to let Del Negro go, and not Paul’s.

Interesting timing.  In about a month the Clippers hope to re-sign Paul and keep him with the Clippers for five more years.  Not that I have first hand knowledge, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a few calls were made before The Times’ article appeared.  It probably went like this:

Paul to his agent: “I am tired of taking the image hit for Del Negro.”

Agent to Times reporter: “Hi, just want to clarify that we fired Del Negro, not Chris Paul.”

Times reporter in article: “Clippers said they fired Del Negro, not Paul.  Just want to make that clear.”



Communicating via telephone — a novel idea

I love email.  I use it dozens of times a day to send messages.  And I know I am not alone, as I also receive dozens of emails each day.

But every now and again I like to pick up the telephone and actually talk to a person.

What is strange, is when I do, I often get a puzzled response.  It seems that for some people the computer hasn’t augmented how we communicate with one another, it has replaced it.

The best thing about email, in my opinion, is the ability to send documents, photographs, videos and web links.  It is a miracle of technology that when working on a client project, we can instantly send the client a graphic layout for approval even if that client is on the other side of the world.

In the pre-internet world, it would take days to get artwork or even photographs to a client.  Then it would take days to get it back with comments.  Today, it is all done in the blink of an eye.

However, back to my point, while email has that ability, it has gradually replaced basic conversation.  And it shouldn’t.

There is no reason to send an email when a phone call will achieve the same result.  Yes, there are situations when people travel and using email is easier than playing phone tag.  But more often than not people use email to avoid speaking to one another.

That’s why in our marketing firm we make a point of picking up the phone and talking to our clients at least a couple times a week (as well as meeting when it makes sense).  There is something about hearing a client’s voice that an email can’t replace.

And I’m happy to report that we practice what we preach.  We also encourage clients to pick their phones and call us even if it is just to say hello.



Crisis PR Rule No. 1 for non-profit and for-profit organizations

Understanding how to deal with a crisis public relations situation is key to maintaining a good reputation.  Some PR firms, such as Farr Marketing Group, specialize in helping non-profit and for-profit organizations deal with crisis situations.  The objective is to minimize any negative effects from a public situation that could impact your organization’s brand.

In this first in a series of posts on crisis PR, I want to talk about rule #1 in dealing with a crisis PR matter.  And it may surprise you what it is.

Simply put, it is learning to understand what is a real crisis and what is not a real crisis.  This is critical in that too often organizations overreact when something potentially negative occurs.  Many organizations tend to believe that the entire world is watching them at all times.  Sometimes that is the case, but most times, it is not.  So, when something happens that a CEO thinks will damage the organization’s reputation, s/he mobilizes the crisis team to go into action to “get ahead of the story.”

But what if there is no story?  What if the “crisis” is not a crisis at all and will quietly go away?  Mobilizing a crisis team to take action when no action is necessary, will do precisely what you want to avoid — calling attention to the matter.

While it is critical that an organization needs to handle a crisis skillfully, it is equally as critical to learn to identify when you have a real PR crisis.

If you have any doubts, please feel free to contact us and we’ll put it to the test.


The Art of the Pitch

There’s no question that social media plays a very important role in the marketing of all organizations.  If you’re not on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. then some may believe you don’t exist.

This had led some PR firms to focus on generating a constant stream of content for their clients.  Posts on FB and words of wisdom on Twitter are seen by some marketers as a winning marketing and PR strategy.

We of course do social media for our clients.  As stated above, it plays an important role.  However, if I ask a client which they would prefer — 100,000 hits on a YouTube video or a feature story in the Los Angeles Times, they will always chose The Times.

It is prestigious when a third party writes about your organization or company.  People want to point to articles that appear in the mainstream media as validation that they are doing good work and worthy of media attention.  Plus, everybody likes to tell their story to Anderson Cooper.

However in our age of controlled social media posts, it is worrisome that the art of pitching a story to a reporter, editor or producer is getting lost.  Young PR people are entering the field thinking they can make a client happy by simply writing and posting great things about them and trying to get others to “Like” and re-post.

It’s a mistake.  If a PR person or a PR firm doesn’t know how to position a client’s story so the press take interest, then they are doing a disservice to their client.  Pitching stories and getting media attention takes skill, practice, creativity and an understanding of how the media think.  That’s what real PR is — the heaving lifting, generating content written by others, not by yourself.

And that’s how you get your organization covered in the New York Times (in addition to your Facebook page).