September and October not only mark the end of summer and the beginning of fall, but they’re also when many professional sports seasons begin and end. September brings the start of a new football season, and baseball season comes to a close with the World Series at the end of October. Interestingly, today, a professional sports team isn’t seen as just a team. It is a unique brand, where one player’s actions or behavior reflects on the public’s perception of the team as a whole.
In a recent article in the Public Relations Society of America’s Tactics, Los Angeles Angels’ Vice President of Communications Tim Mead comments on how team managers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a public relations strategy and the need to maintain the brand of the team as a whole. “The Los Angeles Angels are very supportive of public relations because they realize it is about brand management. Everyone has a responsibility to our brand.”
At the end of September during one of the last games of the season, two Washington Nationals players, Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, got into an altercation during which Papelbon grabbed Harper by his throat. Eventually, both players had to be separated by their teammates. The day after the altercation, the Nationals issued a statement on their Twitter page saying Papelbon’s behavior was not in line with the way their players are expected to conduct themselves.
Now, it is also not uncommon to see teams tweeting and posting about doing volunteer work in their local communities. When looking at the New England Patriots’ Twitter account, many of the tweets show players visiting patients at hospitals or surprising students at area schools. In showing these activities, the Patriots build a brand image that illustrates that not only are they known as a strong team on the football field, they are also a team that enjoys giving back.
In today’s era of multiple social media accounts, it’s likely that a team – and it’s players – will be active on many, if not all, of them. Which social media platforms do you follow your favorite team on?