The season before Charlotte Jones’ father bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, the team was 3-13 and losing more than $1 million a month, but Jerry Jones recognized the value of a traditional brand known across the country.
"Players will come and go, and people will come and go," she said. "But that brand, that tradition, that authenticity of what the team meant to people was the most valuable thing we had, and enhancing it to grow became the mission of our family."
Jones, the Cowboys’ EVP and chief brand officer and chair of the NFL Foundation, shared the story of her foray into branding, purpose and football with GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick during the PRDecoded session Inside the NFL: Playing with Purpose.
Jones realized very quickly that if the country is paying attention to what Cowboy's players are doing off the field, she has to use it to the team’s advantage.
"Our goal every year with the Dallas Cowboys is to try and find a way to win the Super Bowl, but that's not our purpose," she said.
Opportunity presented itself in 1997 when she was asked by the national chairman of the Salvation Army for help drawing attention to the organization's charitable work. Despite her father's skepticism, Jones pulled together a Thanksgiving Day halftime show that raised $15 million for the Salvation Army.
The lesson Jones learned during that first major pitch is something she has used every day since, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
"You need to have a high tolerance for ambiguity," she said. "You have to work really hard to produce what you think is the best, and then you have to sit back and just let it go. You cannot let not knowing what the outcome will be paralyze you."
Another thing that paralyzes philanthropic communicators? The feeling of needing to have the answer for everything.
"We have a garnered focus and strategy around a specific thing, like the Salvation Army or social justice, so that we can have a bigger, measurable impact in certain areas instead of trying to be everything to everybody," Jones said.