Did Howard Bragman score the biggest public relations win of this year thus far? Many seem to agree that the Fifteen Minutes PR chief did by managing and breaking the Michael Sam (who has officially announced he is gay and if drafted, will be the first gay active NFL player) story to the country.
In an article for PRNewser, Bragman shared his tips on how to handle a PR situation this big.
His first universal PR rule is to jump out in front of a story. This is to make sure that no one else can intercept the pending story and run with it. Sam chose Empire Athletes to represent him and asked point-blank if him being gay would be a problem for them. Empire then realized how big of a story this would be and began brainstorming publicists to represent him. Bragman was chosen and made it very clear that this one-time announcement would not take precedence over his career.
His second rule, which is a pretty awesome rule, is to tell the tale once. The media will do its job by taking the story and turning it viral. With all of the social media platforms that are available now, it takes such a short time for a story to reach tons of people. President Barack Obama even tweeted to Sam congratulating him on coming out.
According to Bragman, you also need to be prepared for the worst possible scenario response. You need to be ready to defend your offensive strategy.
Another key rule is stick to your trusted channels and friends. This is important so no third parties can spin your story. While sticking to people you trust, you also need to make sure you emphasize the fact that there is a person, a well-rounded person at that, behind the announcement.
Last, but certainly not least, Bragman suggests releasing your statement, making your peace and getting on with living your life. Sam made his announcement with Bragman behind him and that was it – Sam will not be an activist and this will not affect his career.
Bragman has denied any further interviews with Sam and has suggested that the “media circus” around the announcement has already started to die down. Bragman has said helping athletes come out is “one of the most rewarding parts of his job.”
Overall, I think Bragman did a wonderful job of handling Sam’s story. Once rumors started to swirl, it was best that they got ahead of the game. By denying interviews and not dragging it out, I believe, Sam will profit in the draft. It shows that as much as this is a part of his life, it’s not his whole life and I think that proves he will not let it affect his career. This is a huge win for both Sam and Bragman.
--by Trish Bradle, PRSSA General Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.