Barbara's Blog

Do you have a no. 1 fan?

Fans are arguably the most important group of the sports industry. Without a supportive fan base, teams would not generate the same amount of money, energy or popularity. In basketball, fans are often referred to as “the 6th man,” which alludes to how much the sport values its fans.

To maintain a loyal fan base, the organization must place fans as a top priority. If fans do not feel they are being treated well by “their team,” they will not be as inclined to continue their loyalty. When creating a public relations plan for a sports team, it is important to place the fans as the main focus group. An example objective for this group is “To enhance relationships with current fans and cultivate relationships with potential fans.”

When developing a public relations plan to enhance and cultivate relationships between a team and its fans, it is important to consider some of the factors that drive fans to attend sporting events:

-Entertainment: Fans attend sporting events to escape from all of the pressures and stress of the “real world.” While at a sporting event, it is as if someone hit the “pause” button on the rest of your life, and all that matters is the outcome of the game. Fans come to a game expecting to be entertained, not just by the game itself, but by the other activities taking place as well.

-Eustress: Also known as “good stress.” It is the combination of euphoria and stress that one feels during a game. Lakers fans feel stress when the Lakers are down 90-87 with .9 seconds left in the game, and they then feel pleasure and excitement when Kobe scores a half court shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. It is this addicting combination of pleasure and stress that keeps fans coming back for more.

-Family: Sporting events bring families together. Even if all family members are not huge sports fans, they will still attend games with their spouse and/or children to spend time with them. Families appreciate the quality time they can spend together, and sporting events are a popular place to do so.

-Group Affiliation: One of the most thrilling things about being a fan of a sports team is the fact that you are automatically joined together with thousands of individuals. When someone walks down the street in a t-shirt with your favorite sports team written on it, it is common to give them a little “Go team!” shout. Fans appreciate the ability to identify with such a large group of people who have the same amount of enthusiasm for a team. Strong fan bases keep fans coming back for more.

As you can see, fans are not extremely difficult to please. As long as the team takes care of them, they will take care of the team. They are already drawn to sporting events for reasons other than tactics that can be implemented with a public relations plan. As long as the team and the organization provide them with a reason to continue returning, fans will remain loyal and true.

Now that we have analyzed this group and what draws them to sporting events, it is time to develop tactics to achieve our objective. Please stay tuned for my next blog post, which will provide tactics for enhancing and cultivating relationships with fans.


Note to Howard: Keep your criticisms to yourself (it’s in your best interest)

While I was sitting in my room, cozying up, reading sports headlines and pondering what to blog about, the perfect news story popped up my ESPN homepage. The story? “Howard fined for criticizing officials.” The Orlando Magic’s All-Star center, Dwight Howard, was fined $35,000 for criticizing officials in his latest blog post. Here are the comments, direct from his blog post:

“I mean it was almost comical at times how I was getting fouls called on me. There was nothing I could do out there and I felt like I couldn’t even move without getting that whistle blown on me.

I’m not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don’t see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them. No star player in the league is outta games the way I am. I even talked to Pat Ewing about his career and he said he never had foul trouble like what I’m going through.”

Now, I understand where the guy is coming from. He’s a big guy — 6’11” and 265 lbs. to be exact. Big guys are going to get fouls, it’s inevitable. But playing only 105 minutes in four games and receiving 22 fouls? In four games, there is a total of 192 minutes (48 minutes per game), and a total of 24 fouls (6 fouls per game). For a player, especially a four-time All-Star, the number of fouls in comparison to the number of minutes played seems a little ridiculous. That being said, both players and coaches must listen to the officials, no matter how outrageous their calls seem.

Instead of maintaing decent relations with NBA officials, Howard felt the need to complain about the officials in his latest blog post. It is posted on the Internet for all of the world to see, including NBA Commissioner David Stern. Stern made a firm statement last week, threatening players and coaches with harsh consequences for denouncing the league’s officials. This statement, among others included in Stern’s harsh warning, can be found on the NBA’s website:

“And if someone wants to try me in the rest of this playoffs, you know, make my day. Because the game is too important and I don’t think that the people who trash it are respecting it, and we’ll do what we have to do — the players and coaches alike — because they give the impression to our fans that the referees somehow have an agenda.”

Stern is referring to comments made by multiple coaches and players during the first round of the play-offs. In addition to this, Stern expressed regret for not placing harsher sanctions on coaches and players 20 years ago when he was appointed to his position. Personally, I think that Howard was irresponsible for posting those blog comments, and he remains irresponsible for not removing them after he has been fined. It is not hard for professional athletes to maintain a respectable image among the league and in the eyes of their fans; all they have to do is show up to play and keep their public comments positive. Keeping up with a personal blog for fans to read is great PR, as long as the posts are appropriate. Howard is a good guy and NBA fans love him for his goofy personality, but I wish he would be smarter when dealing with his frustrations. Typically, he is a respectable player, both on and off the court. I hope that he writes his $35,000 check and takes his frustration out on the court instead of on his blog from now on.

Calling All Athletes

Calling all athletes–if you haven’t yet created a Twitter account, I hope you are convinced to create one after reading this post. Looking for an extra way to connect with your fans? Look no further.

Keeping up-to-date Twitter accounts is great PR for pro athletes if used in an appropriate way. Tweeting personal messages about your lives allows your followers to feel as though they somewhat know their favorite athletes on a deeper level. Yes, I do realize that sounded a bit ridiculous, but you get what I’m saying. Athletes who keep up with their Twitter accounts draw fans in through the personal connections that they make, without any extra effort at all. Public relations is based upon fostering relationships, and athletes on Twitter are doing just that.

Here are a few examples of how tweeting is an effective way to communicate with fans:

Placing information on Twitter is a direct way of notifying fans about about other social media updates or television appearances they may enjoy, like Phoenix Suns center Amar’e Stoudemire and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver turned “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Chad Ochocinco do here.

Tweeting is also a fun way of expressing personal feelings you have like Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant does here. It is a great way to engage in a conversation with fans, because they feel comfortable enough to reply to your tweets because you put yourself out there.

Here, Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Bosh confirmed his decision to become a free-agent via Twitter. Asking a question to your fans makes them feel valued, because everyone appreciates giving their opinion.

Just remember, be careful what you tweet. When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble provides a few examples of consequences athletes have been given when they violated the leagues’ Twitter policies.

Here are a few links I discovered when exploring the topic of this post online:

The Real NBA Players on Twitter provides a list of all of the verified NBA Twitter accounts. provides a complete directory of all professional athletes on Twitter and a live feed that shows the most recent tweets from athletes on the site.

That’s all for now, tweet tweet tweet.

And now, the journey begins…

I am currently finishing up my junior year at the University of Oregon, leaving me feeling both excited and unsure. I am looking forward to completing my last year here and moving on to “the real world,” but I am also feeling a bit of confusion about how my time in college has seemed to fly by at a speed I never thought possible. This is my first blog; it’s the starting line to my journey in the field of public relations. At this point in my life, I am unsure where this path will lead me and where the finish line is located. I am excited by this uncertainty, and I appreciate you taking the time to dive head first into this journey with me. Please feel free to leave a question or comment in the box below and I will be sure to respond!

Photo Credit: Darren Larson