Thursday, August 10, 2006

PR Department

I was surfing a bit yesterday and again it amazed me how many Blazer blogs are cropping up everywhere. That made me wonder what, if any, notice the Blazer PR department is taking of this phenomenon. You'd have to be blind not to notice the groundswell, or to ignore the free publicity. All the ad slogans and official statements in the world don't carry as much cachet, or engender as much goodwill, as a corps of grass-roots folks dedicated to doing your advertising for you. And intentionally or not, there's no doubt that these sites are basically commercials for the team, piquing interest on a daily basis.

Many people like to play "If I Were GM", but let's stop for a second and pretend that we are Blazer PR guys. What would you do to take advantage of this growing medium? I know they already have their own site and blogs, but as I said in an earlier post, that only goes so far. The content is good, but it's still the "team site", so what do you expect them to say on it? While it's the best source for people who are already dedicated fans, the Blazers are unlikely to convince any skeptical potential converts through their own site no matter how glitzy it is. Besides, why do all the work yourself when you've got others eagerly doing it for you? It's like that guy in "Lady in the Water" who only works out one arm and not the other.

Here are a couple of my suggestions. And lest somebody think that I'm being self-serving, suggesting the Blazers should do something for me or take notice of what I do, let me say up front that because I live a state away and have a real life job I could not participate in any of these things myself. But I still think they're good ideas.

1. The Blazers ought to have a "Bloggers Lunch", similar to the meet and greets they have for season ticket holders. Let guys sit down with Kevin Pritchard, maybe a coach or two, and a couple of players. Let them ask some questions, even some tough ones. Let them walk on the floor at the Garden and in the locker room. Maybe even let them attend an otherwise closed practice. (Give the players fair warning that everything they do that day is going to be written about several dozen times over, of course.) Can you imagine the stream of publicity that would come out of that one afternoon?

2. The Blazers ought to invite a guy like Eric Marentette to walk with them through the intricacies of next year's draft process, from the scouting to the conversations to the war room on draft night. He'd have to be subject to some editorial control, of course, such as not disclosing sensitive conversations before the draft, but he could post along the way and then write a more complete retrospective afterwards, detailing how we got to that point. They could also cover other events like, "What's a road trip like?" and "What's it like doing a TV/radio broadcast?" Or maybe even, "What's it like to spend a day with [insert player here]?" If they were really, really brilliant they'd hold a contest to select a fan writer who would follow the team all season long just like a beat writer and give their perspectives. You'd have people salivating to do ALL these things...for free! Just pick a person who you think is responsible and whose writing style you like. Post entries on the Blazer website (or O-Live if they'll cooperate) and you're set.

3. You know those cool videos that are popping up left and right on YouTube and other places? Well, the organization is sitting on the biggest vault of Blazer highlights ever known to man. Either have your video guys come up with some compilations or get some internet friends to come in and do it for you. You could do historical packages detailing each year or era, set to era-contextual music. You could also do individual packages of popular players' careers (like Clyde or Jerome). What fan could resist watching 30 or 40 of those? Such memories it would bring up.

And by the way this raises a side point. The overall Blazer PR strategy should be simple. Forget begging people to come back and forget slogans about the team being resurrected and such. What you need to do is visually, emotionally, non-verbally, instinctively draw a connection between the team's deep past (which people remember fondly) and its near future...kind of skipping over or sublimating the recent past. These videos, perhaps with added vignettes, would be an easy way to draw the connection. I've had this nagging idea about a video where disgusted Blazer fans, collectively having had enough, take a trip (probably with their children who should be the next generation of fans) down to Union Station to throw memorabilia of less-than-charming players (Bonzi, JR, Qyntel, etc.) out the "departures" door and onto the tracks. After the catharsis of the purge they all stand there looking forlornly out the door as if not knowing what to do, and the kids especially look sad. You see a tight shot of a little girl standing there, only half understanding what's going on. Then you see a huge hand come to rest on her shoulder. The camera moves up and it's Martell, and standing there are Jarrett, B-Roy, and whatever other young guys you want to include. The girl looks up at Martell, then looks at her dad. Her dad looks at Martell and then nods to her. Martell scoops her up and she laughs. All the other kids and then the adults gather around the players and they start walking out together. A line of people start applauding on one side of the station and it's all the superfans--Dancing Lady, Paint Guy, Hippie Man, Grandma Blazer, the works. Then a line of people on the other side start applauding and it's as many of the good old players as you can gather. Jerome, Buck, Clyde, Duck, Luke, Gross, Steele...you name it. One of the prominent players nods to Martell as he walks by. Martell nods back. One of the superfans does the same with one of the new fans. Then the young players and their new fans walk out the door into the sunrise and the camera moves up to reveal the sign over the entryway which says simply, "Arrivals". Set the whole thing to some music (my personal favorite would be the Brewer and Shipley classic "One Toke Over the Line" but that's probably too edgy and close to home for them to use it) and you've sent your whole message in a three minute video without saying word one.

Anyway, the point is if a schmuck like me can think of ways to use the internet and its interactive popularity to the team's advantage, the team should probably be able to also. If you give 'net users something they can play with, share, or best of all help create and contribute to, they will flock like seagulls at the fishing docks.

Got any nifty PR ideas? Share them below or by e-mail.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

41 Comments:

Blogger Ken said...

"People get ready, there's a train a comin', picking up passengers from coast to coast..."

Dave, you are on a different level than Steve Patterson seems to be. The first thing the Blazers would have to do is to figure out that they needn't have an adversarial relationship with the people who write about them.

They are doing so many things right that it seems incongruous that they are still (and by they, I mean him)forgetting that their daily connection with ordinary people is through the media.

Having Barrett write his blog is an awesome first step. Getting rid of Nash (even though I think he was as much a fall guy as anything else) was a good second step.

Having Pritchard handle the press without Patterson's help would be an even awesomer third step.

Recognizing the bloggers as you have suggested would further relations along the same lines.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

The one thing Barrett's blog needs to be if they want it to take off is more INTERACTIVE. That guy gets 32 comments just for rolling out of bed in the morning, but the team/site/author don't take advantage of it by having him respond back. Even if they had to have a lacky shuffle comments back and forth to him in order to get responses and then type them up it would be worth it.

I've always gotten the feeling that, at least at the top level of the organization, fans are seen more like pieces to be moved on a chessboard than actual people to have an actual relationship with. I don't know if that's true or just perception, but what you're talking about, Ken, hasn't helped the whole deal.

--Dave

12:39 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Well, hell, Dave, while we’re at it, let’s have PA give bloggers $1,000,000 towards goodwill then [just kidding………………………sort of].

I think the Blazers need to fully acknowledge a couple of things. First, criticism is not always all that bad. Sometimes constructive criticism is good so long as it’s honest (well, that lets KFXX & The Oregonian out the door). Second, if I were the Blazers, I’d print links to any & all Blazer blogs, whether good or bad, and just have fun with it. They would look better if they weren’t so thin skinned and let people disagree with them and respect that as even bloggers are………….. just…………..fans- for crying out loud. Let people see what’s being said about them. I also think some senior Blazers & players should post comments and even request permission to be guest posters every so often. Some good humored bantering with scrubs like us could go a long way in the PR department.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Barrett could be more interactive. What I meant was that Barrett puts a good face on things for the Blazers. He's personable, funny, and he really connects. Nash, the few times I read his blog sounded like he was only there to spar with the media.

The Blazers could do worse than using your idea of finding a blogger to follow the team for a year. The possible, (probable) problem with that would be that the relationship would become either one sided or adversarial within a very short time.

"I'm sorry , Dave, I know we said you could write what you like, but if you don't change this blog entry your seat on Blazer One is revoked."

Nash had the unfortunate habit of not screening his thoughts before they became speech. "Telfair is already a better player than Damon."

Patterson has the opposite habit, "As long as Darius is part of this team, he's part of this team." Wow, Steve, can I quote you on that?

As another long distance fan, who quite frankly depends on the Oregonian, O-live and bloggers like you, Dave, I'm disgusted with the relationship that has evolved between the Blazers and the media.

OK, I will shut up and let other people have their turns now.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

dave great idea but 1 year too
soon,now if we end up with the
winning ticket of oden*noah
1 or the other then that
informercial would be awesome
as for barrett i love mike
but damn he's a blazer yesman...

1:30 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

my first question is this: Is fatty capable of posting without mentioning the long odds of us landing Oden or Noah(who i don't think is going to be a great NBA player anyway)?

That aside, I think your commercial idea is freakin FANtastic. pun intended. you gotta find a way of getting that to the blazers front office. i got chills just visualizing it in my head.

I like your plans for "blogger days" as well. If they were to do something like that I'd make my own blog! of course it would probably just be profanity laced and a bunch of tirades, but if it got my butt at a table next to jack and martell and Roy, i'd be happy.

Not sure where you come up with your stuff Dave, but i totally dig it and you really help me enjoy being a blazers fan from afar.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Eli said...

I'd really like it if there were a big links page for all the Blazers blogs out there. Every blog seems to have links to a few, but it would be great if someone could compile a list of all of them and keep the list updated so that when I'm absolutely going nuts for something written about the Blazers I'll be able to find it.

2:45 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

scott r- I enjoy seeing if fatty can get oden into his posts. Face it, at least he's creative.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Better than Brangelina guys...

--Dave

3:17 PM  
Anonymous TwoDeep said...

Don't know what you do for a real job Dave, but unless it involves a good deal of creativity, you're wasting your talents.

Terrific ideas!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Chippendale's dancer, of course. You could tell it just by looking at me. Very creative work...

--Dave

3:51 PM  
Anonymous TP43 said...

There's got to be a joke about the length of your tassle there somewhere . . . Dave's official new nickname is Chip.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

eli, that's an awesome idea about the "master list" of links. i had actually meant to mention it in my reply, but alas i got sidetracked with thoughts of Oden....


And Chip, keep up on the great work! don't let us take away from your dancing time though! LoL

5:49 PM  
Anonymous School Marm said...

Dave, I've been thinking I need to get out more and "get a life" as one of my associates suggested. Could you find a place in your video for a middle-aged, single, prim and proper teacher type?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous roseburgian said...

You have some great ideas, Dave. The video clip scenario was very nice. I'm assuming we're all sending this link to the Blazers? I can't imagine the Blazer organization actually acknowledging bloggers as you suggest, although I do think it would be great if they did so.

It certainly seems that their PR department needs some help - I'm often out of touch with what's going on with the team, but I recall seeing an official slogan that I was certain was somebody's idea of sarcasm. Silly me--it was the real slogan for the team.

I would love to have a dvd of clips of past teams. I could sit and watch it when sulking over the current state of the organization.

Ooooo ooooo, and, yes! A compilation of all the Blazer blogs would be excellent (thank you, eli).

By the way, I now understand how you're able to get your posts up so bright and early in the day, Dave - well, I'm assuming the dancing is at night [grin].

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Lance Uppercut said...

I'd like to think that I had a little something to do with the explosion of Blazer blogs, but I'd also like to think that I can still do more than 3 pull-ups without requiring rotater cuff surgery. Mostly though, I think the fact that two of the best NBA bloggers in all the land, being Henry Abbott and Eric Marentette, are both Blazer fans, so I think they inspire a lot of other fans to say what's on thier minds. I know that's why I started blogging.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

Lance, you can do THREE pull ups? Damn. i'm jealous! Put something else on your blog! i'm tired of seein Joel's Baby already!

On a side note, i wonder if he is bigger than my boy...i think they are about 3 mos apart and i remember hearing the interview when joel re-signed where his wife said something about how HUGE he is. My boy is 6 mos now and weighing in at like 24lbs! what a chunker.

Someone...find out if Joel's baby is already bigger! (I'm positive he'll grow up to be about a foot taller than my boy being that dad is 14" taller tham me.)

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Lance Uppercut said...

Info on Joel's kid is hard to come by. I know from experiance.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Baby Suri Northwest style?

--Dave

11:15 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

we definitely need to start a links page...I'd be willing to do that on my blog if people sent all of their links to me. Just leave a comment on my site http://ripcity247.blogspot.com

3:55 PM  
Anonymous jorga said...

(Advance warning: this is long, I was thinking aloud.)

I like your ideas, Dave; the train video brought tears to my eyes (yeah, well, I cry easily.)

Your "Blogger's Lunch" idea is cool, but why should I have to start a blog just to get to go? And why should I get to go just because I have a blog? OK, I know we're talking PR and reaching out to fans who are only reading blogs won't touch as many people, but there is still word-of-mouth...

In other words - reaching out to all fans is important. Long ago we talked in e-mail about "lessons for ladies" (paraphrased because I can't remember what words you actually used) - basketball explanations for fans who have never played the game and want visual examples of a pick-and-roll or flagrant foul .. ok, so we don't need the last one.

Would the fans sit still for a 15 minute "lesson" before games? Get some local high school players and their coach to demonstrate what to look for in the game. James DePriest would talk about what to listen for in a concert ... basketball is as elusive to some as classical music is to others.

OK, not feasible to do "lessons for ladies" and not enough fans would be interested in a pre-grame demonstration, but how about a DVD? Not a how-to for kids learning to play, but a "How to watch the Blazers" specifically for the less-knowledgeable fan. They could film JJ and Joel walking through a pick-and-roll and then include some clips of well executed ones from earlier seasons. Show us what to watch for when the other team is at the foul line... Show us what is and what isn't an assist... etc etc. Not just a commercial for the Blazers, but a real learning tool. Give them to the bloggers who will write about them. Give them away at games, sell them cheaply at local stores, paper the town with them (think AOL).

Where did all the Blazer merchandise go? We used to be able to buy all sorts of stuff "emblazened" with their name. Make connections with local businesses - I still have Dairy Queen glasses with Blazer names from years back. Now is an excellent time to bring 'em back.

Imprint pencils with the Blazer logo and give them to all the area grade schools, one for each kid. Keep the schools supplied so when a kid needs a pencil they'll get a Blazer one. Donate Blazer pens, notebooks, etc. to the high schools to sell in their school stores (assuming school stores still exist. My kids are out of h.s. Sigh.)

At games have random drawings for admission to a practice; a Rose Garden non-game day tour to see the locker room, sit on the bench, walk on the playing floor; tickets to future games; jackets; limo rides to and from a game for season ticket holders; dinner with Kevin; lunch with LaMarcus; breakfast with Zach ...oh, that wouldn't work...; a workout session with the trainer; ... I could go on brainstorming for hours on this one.

Donate, donate, donate.

Bottom line: involve the fan personally and get the name out there again.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

That DVD idea is a good one. Especially if distributed in schools under the guise of teaching basketball.

Also the reason I mentioned bloggers specifically is because they'd write a ton about it, thus spreading the word en masse. You're right though that the Blazers need to shift focus a little. They do a pretty good job with value added stuff for their season ticket holders. That's vitally important when they're reducing (or giving away) other tickets and they should definitely keep doing it. But at this point it's also mostly preaching to the choir. I doubt anyone has season tickets (before the $199 deal anyway) who isn't already a pretty committed fan. Doing stuff like this would lure people who are more on the fence, which might actually get your sales up instead of just protecting what you've got.

--Dave

12:15 PM  
Blogger jojack said...

Dave you're a genius...
"one toke, hell... wait'll ya get a load of these bats!"

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