In victory or defeat, the Jets PR team always acts like a winner
You compete in the country's most demanding market. Your home stadium bears another team's name and is located outside your own state. You're the New York Jets. But despite playing in New Jersey's Giants Stadium, and having to compete for attention with so many other teams, you've sold out some 70 home games in a row - thanks to a loyal fan base and one of the best PR departments in sports. And while the season is only five months long, keeping the Jets as hot a ticket as The Producers is a year-round job. It requires a steady stream of information, a quick-footed staff, and a strong relationship with coaches and players.
"I think a vital aspect of this job is not falling into the mood of the team," says PR director Ron Colangelo, now in his fourth year with the Jets. "We need to be steady, professional, and not let ourselves be affected by the highs and lows of winning or losing."
Five years ago, the Jets didn't even have a marketing operation, but that has changed in a big way. Two weeks ago, as I observed proceedings during a game with the Miami Dolphins, marketing was heavily involved in pre-game and halftime activities honoring two recently retired players.
"In the past, communications wouldn't have been included in something like this," Colangelo says. "Now we have terrific synergy with all aspects of the organization."
Colangelo is a smooth, affable presence as he goes about his pre-game duties, from meeting with his counterpart on the Dolphins' staff to discussing rosters with the referees to coordinating an in-house radio interview with head coach Herman Edwards. At one point, a young PR staffer with the Dolphins stops by to thank him for his career advice.
During the game, Colangelo and his staff of three full-timers, three grad assistants, and ten student "runners" work in the largest press box in the NFL, which accommodates beat writers, national and local media, and outlets from the visiting team. Tons of printed materials are available, including a 60-page briefing about the day's contest. After the game, the PR staff ushers players and coaches into post-game interviews, made much more pleasant by the team's victory.
The following day Colangelo starts the week all over with another head coach's interview and preparations for the upcoming game. There's no rest in satiating the media in New York, because when you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way...even all the way to New Jersey.
- Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer