Rainbows Use All Assets For A Sunny Day…

W.love the underdog…whether it has been Boise State last year, George Mason's Cinderella run or the Red Sox breaking the “Curse of the Bambino,” the ability for fans to follow and the media to embrace the underdog is a long time favorite. This year we have seen the University of Hawaii Rainbows, BCS eligible and Sugar Bowl Bound…embrace the role and expand it into season-long exposure from a host of angles. Many of the stories, from their downtrodden offices with broken VCR's to the Father Flanagan approach of Coach June Junes with his players to quarterback Colt Brennan overcoming trouble with the law to be a role model for wayward youth, have been embraced and exploited to the hilt. However the credit has to go to the University PR staff for identifying unique stories for the media and then making sure the media have the opportunity to tell the stories with as many slants as possible. Now whether or not Hawaii finishes with a Sugar Bowl win and an undefeated season is out of their control, but the control and spin that has been organized and consciously promoted has set the stage for success. Some recent solid wide ranging examples of that spin include. Carter Strickland's piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on the huge disparity in revenue, success and exposure between UGA and Hawaii. Paul Newberry's AP piece documenting all the differences in “The Team Like No Other,”Stephen Tsai's piece in the Honolulu Advertiser on June Jones’ tactical approach in keeping the team focused, and Pete Thamel's Times piece (one of many) on Hawaii Grad Assistant Brian Kajiyama and his role with the team while having cerebral palsy. Lastly, the pitch even extended to Hawaii's unusual alumni, with a great piece by Steve Popper in the Bergen Record on former Rainbow (and now author) Ian Sample (also the son of former MLB player Billy Sample.and his tales playing pro football in Japan.

The takeaway from this monumental effort for the publicist and the marketer is simple:

1- Plan for the Rainy or the Sunny Day:

2- Keep the Pitches Fresh:

3- Explain the Process To Those In Focus:

4- Never Get a Second Chance To Mak.A First Impression:

5- Treat Those You Meet On The Top The Same As Those When Times Were Dark:

Focusing on these aspects will maximize th.sunny day exposure as Hawaii has done, and will help increase the chances for increased coverage in slow times…

NHL Grabs More Highlights…Bozeman Redeems in Baltimore and Minor Baseball Skiing A Major Offseason Deal..

Some thoughts before taking a few days to tend to our IFL World Grand Prix at Mohegan Sun (live Saturday on HDNet at 9:30 by the way)…While the NFL Network makes history with its multinetwork broadcast Saturday night, the NHL continues to make nice strides online with a full slate of behind the scenes features leading up to the January 1 live broadcast from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo…from time lapse photography and video, to a full behind the scenes series in the Buffalo News, to online pregame shows and weather reporting, as well as the buy-in from Bob Costas, the league is doing everything it can to catch the casual viewer and merchandise him or her to tune in again, or visit nhl.com, to see more of the personalities and the stories of the sport.

Some other quick notes noticed over the last few days...we have touched on the AFL and their off-season P.push, but we came across a cool (literally) offseason hook by the Oklahoma City Red Hawks. The Red Hawks built the world's largest snow tubing slide in stadium to draw fans during the holiday period, a great way to keep the fan base connected, see the stadium and maybe pick up some tickets or merch for the Christmas stocking. If you haven’t seen Sports Illustrated's photo gallery of Athletes Who Care, it's worth checking out…the wide range of athletes included, from household names to high schoolers, is a really nice and unique touch…and on the redemption side of sports, nice job by Jere Longman in today's New York Times telling the story of Todd Bozeman at Morgan State, a coach who saw life in the fast lane at Cal and is now working his way back up..

Arena Football First Person…A Nice Advance Piece

PR Move of the Day:Arena Football League some nice expsosure as it heads toward its season openers in a few months. Cody Swann's piece takes readers behind the scenes (with accompanying stills) and spoke to many who have went through the open tryouts, which will be held in several cities in the coming weeks. The first hand tryout, especially when it involves media, not only is a great tease for upcoming events (and a natural for ESPN who has an investment in the AFL), but is a perfect “slice of life” to show the personalities tha.we sometimes miss when thinking about the pro athlete.

Some other quick items of note...Damon Hack had one of the better Christmas pieces worth reading on SI.com, looking at the Houston Texans and some of their very unique and impactful ways to give back to the community…also worth reading from last week on si.com is Rich Deitsch's media awards from 2007, which includes some of the best blogs from Fang's Bites to Neil Best's Media Watchdog (many links are included on the page here)….lastly, another great nostalgic post by Terry Lyons on the late Shelby Stother and some of his great thoughts about the holidays…worth a read for sure.

Controlling The Message…Is Roger Dodging Or Making A Solid Pitc.

Happy Holidays…with a great deal of item. to get some credit for this week we wanted to take today to address a growing opportunity/phenominon/quandry for the media in the digital world…the ability for athletes/teams/brands to break legitimate news on their own websites, ala Roger Clemens in the past 48 hours. Now its not Osama Bin Laden controlling his message with a release to Al Jezerra, but media savvy athletes, reperesentatives and brands are increasingly taking advantage of the digital space to decide when and where they break news and release information, be it Roger Clemens on Rogerclemens.com, Stephon Marbury via text message to the New York Post, or Venus Williams’ injury update on her site earlier this year. The speed with which the practice is picking up is very noteworthy for those in the business. Less than three years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs were vilified for releasing a coaching change on Maple Leafs.com, and Dan Snyder was critiqued because of his ability to provid.unique media content, with his message, on washingtonredskins.com.

Now mainstream media are not questioning the tactic as much and in most cases they are using these sites as legitimate news sources.This week we saw Clemens emerge with his first major statement only on his charity website (which still has images on top of him in an Astros uniform from two years ago) and also teasing his upcoming “60 Minutes” interview with Dan Rather for this Sunday.athlete picking a slow time to break news (Christmas week), mass distribute only his statement without media scrutiny (via YouTube) and drive traffic to a future controled space (60 Minutes).The lack of commercial involvemen.on the site, on the background, or in the YouTube video gives Clemens sincerity, but one would surmise in the future there will now be a commercial opportunity for the site and the charity now that media and fans know the site location.

Another great story worth a read on the increasing use of the digital space to spread interest and information was in this past week's Los Angeles Time.. (via Fang's Bites) looked not just at USC and UCLA's increasing broadbased streaming efforts, but at the mid-major Horizon League and its work to provide streaming free of charge in the hopes of drawing numbers and then advertisers. Unique digital content for a fee reains a difficult sell for all but the highest value properties…but providing content for free still is the best opportunity to partner and use the digital space to drive interest.the media providing free publicity for his site and his message was perfectly plaid this week..

NHL Scores Looking For New Horizons…Some ’07 Books Worth a Read…

PR Move of the Day:New York Times with a lengthy feature on staffer Willie O’Ree, the first African American to play in the NHL, and his current role as good will ambassador. Although there are obvious obstacles in bringing a minority audience and participants to the game, the piece today was a nice coup to tell the story and hopefully build casual awareness during a crowded holiday season and beyond.

Here are also some good titles for 2007 that may not have made thst best seller list…even the sports best seller list in some cases…but they gave great insight, showed diverse opinions, and especially for those in the field, provided background or new information in non-traditiona.sports or areas of sports that are sometimes shrouded. Although there were no new titles by some of the best in the business in sports this year…Michael Lewis, David Maraniss and the late David Halberstam especially…there were some great, insightful works worth reading, including:

The Best American Sportswriting, 2007. Edited by Pulitzer Prize winner Maraniss, this series is a must for anyone in the industry.

Maravich by Mark Kriegel. The best bio of the year gave insight into one of the sports most misunderstood legends.

The GM by Tom Callahan. Great look inside one of the quietest organizations in sports, the Giants, and beautiful insightfull light shed o.one of the mos.thoughtful and respected General Managers of our time, Ernie Accorsi.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. Like the GM, it gives us the first person mindset of a coach who has faced tremendous personal and professional ups and downs throughout his career.

American Shaolin by Michael Polly. As MMA grows, this book gives huge insight into the roots of a foreign culture, the Shaolin Monks, and their unique lives…a good read going into the Beijing Olympics as well.

1941. The Greatest Year in Sports, by Mike Vaccaro. Much has been written as a one-off about one of the most turbulent years in American history, but the talented New York Post columnis.puts it all in a macro perspective..

A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan. This well read, well traveled went worldwid.behind the scene.of every fight sport imaginable. A great read not only about tactics but about cultures as sports becomes more global every day.

Far Afield by S.L. Price:

Running The Table by L. Jon Wertheim:

Four Days To Glory by Mark Kriedler:Hoosier-like appeal.?

.Love and Blood by Jamie Trecker. The must read soccer book of the year. The oft-quoted, very opinionated Fox Sports columnist goes day-by-day at the World Cup with the personalities that make up the game and gives the novice great historical and anecdotal insight into the structure of the game.

Game of Kings by Michael Weinreb. The world of competitive chess is unveiled and dissected by a great freelance storyteller. Again, not the mainstream but great writing, tales and color.

.read about 35-40 titles this year (I love the library) and still have a few to go, but these give diverse insight and should be included on the reading list for both casual pleasure and professional insight and comparision.?

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No Offseason for NASCAR, T.O. Scores Points Too…

PR Move of the Day:Greg Biffle appearing on the Food Network tonight with Paula Deen, an announcement in the Sports Business Daily about a new partnership with Camping World to become the official RV, an. a nice online piece about Jimmie Johnson and Nick Lachey partnering for a celebiry golf tournament. Three diverse pieces that cover business partners, charity and personality promoting all aspects of the brand in a quiet week…great job by all involved and great examples of how to effectively use the offseason.

Kudos also to the Dallas Cowboys and Terrell Owens for quickly diffusing what were obviously tongue in cheek comments made this week about Jessica Simpson being in the stands for Sunday's loss to the Eagles. The old T.O. may have let the story fester but he did a great job of diffusing and making it into a non-story in 24 hours…great to have a PR pro like the Cowboys Rich Dalrymple running the show year in, year out and leading the charge to dispel such things.

Lastly, some good reads on the business and sport in general…great piece in today's Dallas Morning News by Jean-Jaques Taylor on the restoration of Cowboys great Bob Hayes’ gravesite…hopefully it will help lead to more exposure for Hayes, who should be in the Hall of fame. Also if you haven’t seen these two recent Wall Street Journal pieces on some unique PR spin, check them out. One is on paid media vs. hiring an agency, and the other is on the persistence of publicist Todd Brabender and his success for some unusal clients. Not sports related per-se, but worth putting in best practices.

Some Additional Props For The Bowls…

As mentoned a few days ago, we are continuing to look for opportunities created and maximized by the non-BCS Bowls to expand interest and sponsor visibility. We touched on the Emerald Bowl and their use of the game as a platform for product and to being their promotional run to the Super Bowl. Another unique opportunity is with the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.Thump Bowl, an online version of the popular table top game using a triangular piece of paper. The game gives fans an opportunity to compete against others online, with a host of prizes for the best online scores. The winners will be feted during the game between Connecticut and Wake Forest on ESPN and the program is being supported virally through spots on YouTube as well as radio on ESPN and XM and Sirius.?It's a fun and unique brand extension to a non-BCS game that will get the title sponsor added exposure and creativity, especially in the digital space. Another noteworthy piece is Sarah Talalay's piece in the South Florida Sun SentinelNew Orleans Bowl-bound Florida Atlantic University's plans to use the added exposure to benefit the school in it.quest to grow its platform in a crowded marketplace. Many media question the value of the non-BCS Bowls. but these two stories are examples of how the schools ca.find ways to benefit themselves and business partners with these opportunities.

Lastly, kudos to Sports Illustrated, the NAIA and Carroll College for landing on the front of this week's Sports Illustrated's 2007 Pictures of the Year. Although 99% of the time the selection is just about the greatness of the photo, the opportunity to present a smaller school on the cover, as opposed to those who may have more than one shot in their athletic lifetimes to land one of the most coveted positions in sports media.is a great gift for the little guys during this holiday season.?

Now Pitching…From Toronto to Minnesota to LA…Good Examples of Some Solid Strikes…

Many in PR lament that the art of pitching stories, or having a jaded and overworked media accept and then follow through on the story lines, is a thing of the past. However the pitching of stories will hopefully remain a key, if not the key component, i. publicity. Especially with business partners looking for more and more ROI, pitching those great human interest stories and working in the business partners or the events are probably more critical now than ever. So with that we set out across the web on Sunday to find some unique pitches and receptions on some mass media sites. here are some good examples of successful pitches worth reading. Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a great feature on the life of former collegiate hockey player Maggie Souba, now playing professionally in Russia, a great slice of life to show the adjustments athletes have to make in sports away from the limelight. In the LA Times, Kurt Streeter had a very strong piece about the University of Tennessee's star Kandace Parker and the skills she posseses that make her “the one” to resurrect the LA Sparks and the WNBA...great hook for women's hoops in LA as well as exposing a rising athlete to an audience that may not know about her just yet. Then the Toronto Globe and Mail had a great piece on the Raptors Jamario Moon, his well traveled route through Europe and the D-League and finally to the NBA...another great story that shows the route athletes sometimes have to take to achieve their goals. All three didn’t fall out of the sky, they were the work of solid publicity campaigns, smart editors and dogged writers who could capture the storytelling aspect for the reader, and expose these stories to a wider audience. All examples of how the proper pitch can work.

Couple of other quick notes…Good piece in Ad Age by Jeremy Mullman looking at sponsor effects out of the Mitchell Report (which won’t be much)…Darren Rovell yesterday called Andy Pettitte admission of using HGH the PR Move of the Year. While not quite that, since he is at the end of his career, has mimimal sponsor activity and is not Hall of Fame material, it was a strong first strike move by the athlete and his reps to be out front and be the first real name to move past the issue. It's all about looking forward. Lastly, check out Terry Lyons blog about the St. John's Hoops Symposium from Saturday. These types of events have huge upside if run and merchandised correctly locally and regionally, and Terry has a nice critique on the day. New York college hoops seems to have lost its way recently, and finding a way to merchandise and promote the rivalries with events like this could make sense.

Minors Take Advantage of A Major Story To have Fun…

PR Move of the Day:Savannah Sand Gnats of the Class .South Atlanti.League. The Sand Gnats took advatange of the Mitchell report to put out a release Friday revaling that their muscular mascot, Gnate T. Gnat, was not implicated in the report. Great example of a team using creativity to make light of a major story and find a way to get themselves some ink in the offseason.Casper Ghosts of the Pioneer League. The Ghosts, announced on Halloween (but we just found it) that they will be the first team to have glow in the dark hats, for the 2008 season.?Special thanks to our friend Ben Hill for keeping us up to date on all the goings on around the minors.

On another note, Jason Peck's blog has a great list of 50 good sports networking websites…a good collection for some resources when needed.

Bobcats Access Gives Reason To Watch…Some Points On The Mitchell Coverage…

PR Move of the Day:NBA again has made a strong push to create casual fan interes.wit.a reason to watch at this time of year when choices are high and the buzz around the game (way after opening night and way to early for the playoffs) is low…great example was the effort put forth between the league, the Bobcats and ESPN last night to give fans all access during the Bobcats first national apprearance of the year, against the Orlando Magic…the genesis of the story was detailed in yesterday's Charlotte Observer, and is worth reading since it explains the mindset and planning that went into what would seem to the outsider like a simple concept…the long-controversial micing of coaches was also put forth by the league this week, and the yin and yang is spelled out very well, including give and take from Jeff Van Gundy, in a good piece in yesterday's LA Daily News…now will either effort mak.more fans tune i.? Maybe not…but it generates buzz and curiosity, creates sponsorable elements (graphics and features), shows a little more insight into the personalities and for a digital partner creates strong unique content, all of which are going to become more essential as sports marketing evolves…good first strike by all parties involved.?

Some points from the fallout of the Mitchell Report we think are worth noting, along with some best practices:

First. Damage control from erroneous reporting…the gaffe committed by WNBC TV in New York and then perpetuated by media trying to be first and not accurate was documented in the Chicago Sun Times…once again we see media rushing to be first and not entirely accurate, and people like Johnny Damon and Albert Pujols and their agents and team staffer.all waste time chasing shadows…good job by those wrongly accused to deflect the damage and hopefully put things to rest…Point to be taken away. The publicist should be sure of the facts of his or her client's story beyond a doubt, not strike back quickly until all are in agreement on course of action…once a wrong has been committed, be fair, honest and strong in both getting corrections and telling the truth.

Second…Moving On…Two solid examples here…Bob DuPuy's q and a with Darren Rovell addressed the business side for MLB away from Commissioner Selig's presser in a clear and concise manner and gave good perspective…second, Pau.Godfrey of the Blue Jays in the Toronto Star addressed his team (which was heavily involved with names) and the action the league must collectively take going forward.? Point To Be Taken Away… Don’t pooh pooh the facts…state the position, address your concern and say what can be done going forward…everyone knows now what has occurred in the past, the fans and the business partners want to be assured by those in charge that the ship is being steadied and leadership is not trivializin.past trangressions…lead and show decisive moves for the future and instill confidence as leaders.

Third…Collateral damage…because I have witnessed fallout from some controversies ranging from athlete suicide to some well publicized court cases recently, I always look for what the collateral damge is…Tyler Kepner in today's Times has a very poignant story on Yankees pitcher Ron Villone and his alleged involvement and how a trust was betrayed…he also talks about his remorse not just for Ron but also for all those guys who didn’t use perfomance enhancing substances and never made it to the majors by staying the course…there were also a number of pieces on fan fallout and sponsor issues, many of which seem to be handled well…Point To Be Taken Away. Sports, like any industry, is vertical…we see when the smoke clears on top, but watching how thos.problems reverberate to those who make a living not on the field or court but through the field or court always have to be taken into consideration by those decision makers…therefor.solid and clear communication and outreach to fans and business partners to reassure and then rebuild trust in the long term is essential.

Finally…Those in Glass Houses…While many officials were being respectful and finding ways to control damage and looking forward, we saw a comment in the Philly Daily News by Phils manager Charlie Manuel expressing relief that his players were not on the list. Point To Be Taken Away.?There is no reason for anyone in situations like this to make broadbased assumptions…being more guarded, because one never knows what the future holds, is always the better way to go. Say less, not more.