Archive for October, 2008

I’m a huge hockey fan. While growing up in Portland, a city without a professional NHL team, I became a fan of the Portland Winter Hawks. My parents took me to games when I was a baby, and I’ve been going ever since.

Hockey isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in Canada, so some of you may have no idea who the Winter Hawks are. Well, the Winter Hawks are a junior hockey team, consisting of players between the ages of 16 and 20. The players are from the United States, Canada and Europe. Their goal is to get drafted when they are 18, so they can one day play in the NHL.

Years ago, the Winter Hawks were popular in Portland, especially for being a junior hockey team. In 1998, the team won the junior hockey championship, the Memorial Cup. It was a usual occurrence for more than 10,000 people to attend home games. The team was featured all over the news and in the newspapers. This was the case, until recently. So, what happened?

A couple of years ago, the team was bought by a new ownership group and things have been going downhill ever since. The owners immediately started making decisions about players and trades, but they didn’t really know anything about the hockey. So, the team started to play bad. They also got rid of longtime employees and stopped broadcasting games on the radio. These things didn’t go over well with fans. The owners continued to change things and didn’t seem to care about what people or players thought. There were reports that the owners weren’t paying the player’s medical bills. Because of all this, the team has lost many supporters and season ticket holders. On average, about 2,000 people show up for games. The team hardly has any media coverage.

I’ve become fed up. I rarely follow the team anymore or go to games. This is very disappointing because I remember the good ol’ days. How can the Winter Hawks fix their tarnished reputation?

For starters, the team has just been sold. The new owner said how grateful he is to the fans, employees and players for sticking around. This is a step in the right direction because the team needs to rebuild relationships and gain people’s trust back. The community has to be reassured of their importance to the team. Without fans and supporters, the Winter Hawks don’t exist. The Winter Hawks need to hold public events to reach out and bond with the community. They have to get the word out to the media and the public that things are changing.

In the next few months, the Winter Hawks will be put to the test. They better pass.

Read more about the Winter Hawks at: After the Whistle


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It’s been more than two months since Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but he’s still all over the place. In the past week, I’ve noticed him numerous times in the media. I read a blurb about his love life in US Weekly and I saw a clip of him hosting MTV’s TRL. I also caught the new Guitar Hero commercial that features Phelps, along with Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant and Tony Hawk. These athletes are some of the highest-paid professionals in their respective sports, so Phelps has got to be right up there with them.

Olympic champions are praised, but then they are usually soon forgotten. Michael Phelps hasn’t been forgotten. Why not? Maybe, it’s because the country became fascinated with the determination of Phelps, and we all watched closely as he accomplished the impossible in Beijing. Or maybe, it’s because he seems like an average guy with big ears, who genuinely cares about his mother, his fans and his teammates.

Phelps has made many public appearances and he now has a prominent spot in popular culture. He hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live and was a guest on Oprah. When he visited his hometown of Baltimore for the first time after Beijing, 30,000 people showed up.

I think Michael Phelps is here to stay. According to the Baltimore Sun, he will rack up $100 million in endorsement deals over the course of his career. Phelps is also number one on the Davie-Brown Index, which rates the appeal of athletes and celebrities. He ranked higher than Michael Jordan and Oprah.

How will Phelps continue to stay popular? Well, his endorsement deals are a great start. He’s sure to be seen in more commercials and advertisements for years to come. Phelps recently started the Michael Phelps Foundation and donated his $1 million bonus that he received from Speedo for winning eight gold medals. There’s also been some talk about Phelps staring in his own reality TV show.

From a public relations perspective, the blog PR Buzzsaw states that besides maintaining the buzz about Phelps, having a crisis communications plan is a good idea. After the 2004 Olympics, Phelps was arrested and charged with DUI. He’s probably grown and learned from his mistakes, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know what could happen before Phelps swims again at the 2012 Olympics in London. Let’s hope that he continues to be a hero.

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We all know that our economy is hurting. The impact of the bad economy trickles down to newspapers and the sports industry. Newspapers across the country are cutting jobs and pages to save money. At some newspapers, this can result in limited sports coverage because there are fewer reporters. Newspapers also don’t have enough money to send reporters to games or events.

While looking for information on sports public relations, I stumbled upon a great sports PR blog by Christy Hammond. Christy discusses how declining sports coverage in newspapers hurts the sports industry and what can be done to make up for the lost coverage.

Many people keep up to date on sports by reading the newspaper. Sports teams, leagues and PR departments want to see stories in the newspaper. This is important for a sports team because they can use the coverage to maintain and grow their fan base. When sports coverage is cut from newspapers, people aren’t able to get the same information as they did before and may become angry because they want to read about their favorite team. If people are still interested, they will have to find information elsewhere. The sports industry has to embrace different forms of media to receive more coverage.

Reaching out to bloggers and joining the blogosphere is a great way for the sports industry gain coverage. Some hockey teams in the NHL have formed relationships with bloggers and have invited them into the press box to cover games. This is a perfect thing because teams and leagues will most likely gain more coverage through blogs.

I have been a sports fan my entire life and I’ve always enjoyed picking up the sports section of the newspaper to read about my favorite teams. Lately, I’ve been using the Internet to read about sports because there’s so much more sports coverage available online. It looks like I’ll have to continue doing this because there may not always be a sports section in the newspaper.

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Whole Foods Market
is known for being socially responsible. The natural and organic grocery store is also on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Top 25 Green Power Partners. As a way of communicating with the people they care so much about, Whole Foods Market has created and maintained a company blog.

The blog has a simple name: Whole Story. Among other things, the blog features posts about organic recipes, current events, environmental issues and company deals. All of the topics are relevant and somehow relate to the company or the company’s values. The posts are fairly short, which is perfect because my attention isn’t lost. The layout is pleasing to the eye, and the green colors remind me of nature. This ties in with the company’s green brand. High quality pictures, especially of yummy meals, also stand out.

Many people write posts, and the blog is updated once or twice a day. This is great because there’s always something new, so people have a reason to visit the blog frequently. People can also print coupons which, with the state of our economy, is another incentive to check out the blog regularly. Comments show that people appreciate these coupons.

Whole Foods Market cares about engaging with the public because they have created and maintained this blog. They also encourage and welcome comments, which the “About Us” section states. Because of this blog and the positive communication with the public, the company is definitely benefiting from social media.

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This whole blogging thing has gotten huge, and it’s about time I jump into the blogosphere. I am a senior studying public relations and communication studies at the University of Oregon. I keep thinking about graduation because it’s getting closer and closer. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I have no idea where the future will take me. I want to work in many areas of PR, so I can experience different sides of the field. My goal is to be involved in sports and entertainment public relations. I also love baking and decorating cupcakes, so I hope to open a cupcake shop some day.

Blogging is important in the PR world and I’m happy to now be a part of it. This blog will discuss everything and anything that is related to PR. Anyone is welcome to enjoy this blog, especially those interested in learning more about the public relations field. I am definitely interested in learning more! I also hope to gain experience that will send me in the right direction in the future. Happy blogging!


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