PUBLICIST Cowboys comms head proves adept at avoiding PR fumbles

The Dallas Cowboys may be America's team, but in August they're Southern California's team.

The Dallas Cowboys may be America's team, but in August they're Southern California's team.

Escaping the scorching Texas heat, the club trains here during the pre-season. Lacking our own pro squad, LA football fanatics are thrilled to have the Cowboys. 'Da Boys, in turn, are delighted to be exposed to legions of potential new fans.

Smelling the pigskin all the way to Venice Beach, I followed the scent north to Oxnard to chat with the team's PR director, Rich Dalrymple, one of the best in the business. He's been with the club since its purchase by Jerry Jones in 1989 and enjoys the demands and opportunities of working for a PR-savvy owner.

"Mr. Jones has a keen awareness of the media," says Dalrymple. "He always makes himself accessible. Because of that, he has become required attribution for virtually any story concerning the NFL. In turn, he has utilized that exposure to express his own messages and increase the visibility of the franchise."

Dalrymple runs about as smooth a ship as does head coach Bill Parcells, whom he accompanies exactly on time to the daily press conference, which is broadcast live from a press tent to two Dallas-area radio stations and covered by dozens of TV cameras and print journalists.

During the four-week camp, two publicists and four interns help handle the multiple press requests, from arranging one-on-one interviews to preparing for national media days. Owing to the strong communication between management and PR, Dalrymple was able to deftly calm a potential media storm surrounding the stunning release of quarterback Quincy Carter during the very early stages of training camp.

"I received sufficient advance notice of the situation to prepare a statement and make sure that we were all on the same page, " says Dalrymple. Because the AP, ESPN, and other national outlets already had reporters in camp, he says the club was able to disseminate the announcement on the ground and avoid a flood of calls. "Everyone from the owner to the coach stayed exactly on message, so no fuel was poured on the fire."

While deftly avoiding a potential PR penalty flag from the QB "sacking," Dalrymple was about to be challenged by the equivalent of a zone blitz: a visit by Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes.

I'll tell you how that turns out next week...

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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