Word got out last year that the WAC hired a PR firm to lobby for a BCS berth for Boise State. Then we heard that the BCS itself hired Ari Fleischer’s PR firm to improve that organization’s image (how’s that working out?).
First off, an organization should never publicly announce it is hiring an entity to improve its brand or image. I understand it is not always possible to keep this kind of information under wraps, but once it becomes common knowledge, any ensuing campaign is then diluted somewhat since the target of that campaign is now very aware it is being spun. This can result in the effort backfiring, especially when applied to something like the raging, glorious mess that is college football. If you are going to try to influence the only major sport where media and public opinion is crucial to success, you’d better be on your game.
Second, I think it’s a dumb idea in the first place for college football conferences, organizations and teams to hire firms with no background in the sport and no sense of perspective on the issues involved. This is how we end up with piped in rap music at football games and cheesy marketing campaigns more appropriate to pro wrestling and it’s second cousin, the NFL. Really, what does CAA or Ari Fleischer know about college football?
If you are going to hire a PR hack, make sure that no one knows you are hiring the PR hack and, above all, make sure that PR hack has a clue.
Who should they hire?
Well, gentlemen, I’m available.