Sports-oriented publicity doesn't have to break the bank

Does a client with a limited budget prevent you from suggesting a sports-oriented publicity tie-in? It shouldn't.

Does a client with a limited budget prevent you from suggesting a sports-oriented publicity tie-in? It shouldn't.

Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, look at it as an opportunity to show management just how creative you are by developing a sports marketing publicity program that can gain national major publicity without incurring the multi-million dollars price tag needed for big ticket sponsorships and athlete endorsements

Make certain that, when planning the program, you create one that works for both the client and the media. Also create a niche for you and don't compete with the big ticket boys.

One example would be a sports psychologist talking about the importance of parents not pressuring youngsters to become the next Michael Phelps or Willie Mays. It's an easy transition to have the psychologist also talk about how to relieve the stress that youngsters and world-class athletes may feel before major sporting events.

Speaking about the importance of staying in school and getting a college degree is always a media topic for an athlete talking about life after sports.

Another sure-fire media-friendly story is having a sports trainer talk about ways to prevent youngsters from getting injured; also tips for “weekend warriors” and what the “pros” do to prevent injuries.

If you do want an athlete, look for one who had a short career or one prior to the big bucks era, thus not being able to “cash in,” to carry the message.

Want something more ambitious? Ever watch an event on TV with someone not familiar with the “inside sports” terminology who doesn't know the meaning of an “ace” or “love” in tennis, a “power play” in hockey, football's West Coast offence, or why a batted ball hitting the foul pole in baseball is fair? What about a premium explaining analysts terms used on telecasts, since they often do not?

Here's an example of one program that I developed that gained major publicity when I was with Burson-Marsteller for nearly 25 years. A client wanted to promote its educational product line. I chose a flash-card game called “Math Baseball.” You know, if you get six times six correct you've hit a double, 12 times 12 a home run.

We arranged for Monte Irvin, the Hall of Famer, to be the “Math Baseball Commissioner.” We created our own portable “baseball field” on a piece of cloth so the youngsters could “run the bases.” Irvin gave interviews on the importance of making education fun. The “baseball field” provided the visual for TV coverage. The initial “ballgame” achieved its objective of gaining substantial coverage and was rolled out to other cities.

Major League ball clubs were eager to use “Math Baseball” as a community-relations program, providing ballplayers to act as local commissioners free of charge. Since the program was not officially tied to Major League Baseball Promotions no sponsorship fee was required.

It worked for me. It can work for you.

Consultant Arthur Solomon can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com

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