Sunday, February 5, 2012


As I get ready to hunker down in front of my television set to watch the SuperBowl tonight,it will be only the fifth one that will really matter to me from a pure rooting interest. Why,you may ask?…Simple… The New York Football Giants are playing. MY Giants, the team I have had an emotional relationship with since I was seven years-old.

My brother-in-law, Frank, 17 years my senior, went to all the games when I was a kid and is responsible for addicting me to “Big Blue.” He would bring me the game programs and would spend time talking to me about that afternoon’s contest. I would read the program cover-to-cover and memorize the roster and the player’s numbers, which I can still recall today, Webster, #29… Gifford, # 16….Conerly,#42….Huff,# 70….well, you get the picture.

I remember sitting next to the radio listening to Marty Glickman (home games were blacked out in those days) describe the action, in his exciting and colorful style. I visualized Alex Webster “twisting into the line for 2, 3, 4 yards…” as he would say or a “….high, spiraling kick,” booming from the leg of the Giants punter, Don Chandler.

I would often squirm in my seat, talking to the radio, urging the team to stop its opponent on a third and one, or prompting a Giants’ runner to… “go, go go,” as Glickman painted the picture of him bursting past the line of scrimmage and into the open field.

On October 27, 1957, Frank took me to my first game at Yankee Stadium and, if I was not already hooked, that day fully seduced me to a life-long love affair with The “G-Men.”

I remember that the game was against the Washington Redskins, a team the defending champion Giants were supposed to beat, but did not. I recall that Charlie Conerly was the QB for the Giants and Eddie LeBaron was the QB for the Redskins.

Thanks to my memories were confirmed. The Giants lost to the Redskins 31-14. They committed five turnovers and QB Charlie Conerly was intercepted three times. What the website reminded me of was that the Giants’ offensive coordinator that day was Vince Lombardi and the defensive coordinator was Tom Landry, both of whom went on to become two of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL, though not with the Giants.

What I remember most vividly about that day was coming out of the portal that led to the bleachers of Yankee Stadium in the far end zone, -- where I would end up watching countless more games from with a school G.O. card and later as a season ticket holder which I became at the age of 17, -- and seeing the grid laid out on the bright green stadium grass, the horizontal white chalk lines, drawn perfectly from each of the sidelines every five yards with large chalk numerals identifying the positions on the field, and smaller chalk lines indented within the five-yard markers.

As the game drew closer I recall looking to the far end of the field directly opposite from where we were sitting and seeing a cluster of blue figures, with glistening blue helmets, ascending from the steps of what was the Yankee dugout during the baseball season. It was the home team getting ready to come out onto the field. As they did, the crowd noise began to build to a deafening welcome for the home team. A bellowing cheer of goooooo……giiiiiiiiiants….reverberated around the stadium. It is a cheer that my buddies and I still echo in the parking lot prior to each home game.

Moments earlier, a herd of white jerseys with gold pants and scarlet helmets had trotted across the tundra from the visitor’s dugout and assumed their positions on the far sideline.

The ball was kicked off, a brown sphere tumbling end-over-end towards the goal line, climbing -- it seemed to this nine-year old boy---higher than the famous Yankee Stadium façade. The game was officially under way, and so was my life-long romance with the New York Football Giants.

It has been a romance sprinkled with disappointment, despair, adulation, love, hate, defeat, triumph and any other emotion you can imagine. I have seen the Giants go from the glory years of the late 50’s and early 60’s,--when they were in the championship game almost every year -- to the depths the late 60’s and 70’s-- when they were often among the worst teams in the game, -- to the 80’s when they began to rise again--- and finally captured a SuperBowl title-- by winning SuperBowl XXI, in Pasadena 39-20 over John Elway and the Denver Broncos, a game I was fortunate enough to attend.

For the most part, the Giants have been more than competitive in the last 25 years, appearing in three more Super Bowls winning two of them, including that memorable upset in 2007, when they toppled today’s opponent the New England Patriots, ending their bid for an unbeaten season.

I have seen or listened to virtually every Giants game since that day in 1957,more than 300 of them in person. I still attend every Giants home game and have introduced two more generations of my family to Big-Blue just as my brother-law introduced me.

As I kill time waiting for today’s kick-off I am hopeful that I will witness my boys grab another SuperBowl title, but win or lose, I am thankful for that day in 1957 when “Big Blue” became part of me for life. GO GIANTS!!!

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Coaching A Football Team and Running a PR Campaign: What They Have In Common

Call me crazy, but with the football season in full swing, I began to think about how running a PR campaign is not too dissimilar from coaching a football game. How? You may ask. Let me cite the ways.

First of all, PR campaigns, just like football games begin with a game plan. Included in that game plan are the various strategies and tactics (plays) to be used to achieve the goals on both offense and defense.

A good PR plan includes a proactive media relations plan that is designed to "score" (placements) and a solid issues/reputation mangaement component to protect the company and defend its image.

Prior to kickoff, football coaches watch reels of film and pore over reams of data to learn more about the opponent. We, as PR people, gather as much written and video information as possible about a client and the industry in which it operates so that we can be as prepared as possible for anything that may occur on the "playing field."

Coaches often call blitzes to sack the quarterback and have their own field general call audibles to change the designed play at the line of scrimmage if he sees an unexpected formation from the opposing defense.

During the course of a campaign PR practitioners often have to decide when to call an all-out media "blitz" and when to change a tactic on the fly to adjust to any changes in the landscape and sometimes we even have to decide to "punt" and regroup.

Perhaps the biggest similarity is the exectuion of the plan. Teams win or lose based on execution, or lack thereof. A football team must limit its turnovers (fumbles and interceptions) and penalties to have the best chance of winning. PR pros must also limit "turnovers," (typos, informational mistakes, missed deadlines, etc.)to maixmize the success of a campaign.

When it's all said and done, the name of the "game" is winning, whether it's on the gridiron or in the business world, the team that scores the most "touchdowns" usually wins.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

PR Begins At Home

Public relations professionals are charged with building images, managing issues and creating awareness. The public forms opinions and perceptions based on the information available to them in both traditional and online media outlets.

The collective consensus of the world at large constitutes the
powerful and influential "court of public opinion" that sets people free or sentences them to time in the "people's penitentiary."

Typically, we form opinions of public figures without ever meeting them. They are formed by actions taken, subsequent quotes from newspapers, web sites, TV interviews, blogs and tweets, etc.

We, the public serve as the jury in judging public figures. Does President Obama really cave in on big decisions? Did Tiger Woods handle his crisis the right way? Are NFL players such as Osi Umenyiora and Chris Johnson justified in wanting to renegotiate existing contracts? Based on the opinions formed we can label people as being malcontents, disloyal, weak minded, strong leaders, etc.

Can public opinion change? It sure can, but not easily. Again it's predicated on actions and events.

Public opinion is not relegated to celebrities and luminaries. Opinions are formed about each of us --by people who may not know us or know us well-- in the workplace, at school, at parties and virtually everywhere we go.

For example, if you complain often in the workplace, you may get branded as a rebel-rouser, if you are abrupt and rude in dealing with staff or fellow employees you can be portrayed as difficult to deal with. On the flip side, if you react well under pressure and handle tough situations in a professional manner, you may be perceived as a strong leader and loyal employee.

Remember, how we judge people is often perception, we can control the perception and subsequent PR by our actions. We are our own PR people...PR does indeed begin at home!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jeter Branding: What or Who is a Brand?

As I sat in Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago among a  sellout crowd -- whose electricity had enough voltage to evaporate the wall of humidity that engulfed the park that night-- watching Derek Jeter’s pursuit of attaining his 3,000th hit, a watershed baseball milestone that only 27 other players have reached, it dawned on me how appropriate it is that it happened this year, the anniversary of two other time-endured historic Yankee moments.

In 1941, with the backdrop of America’s impending entry into WW II, “Joltin’”  Joe DiMaggio captured the country with his astounding 56-game hitting streak, forever cementing his already iconic aura.
Twenty years later, at the start of a decade that saw sweeping cultural change, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, dubbed the M&M boys by the media, embarked upon a captivating home run race in chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record, which Maris broke with 61 homers.
DiMaggio, Mantle, The M&M boys, are “brands” that have endured time. As Derek Jeter becomes the first to have all 3,000 hits in a Yankee uniform his place in team history is secure. He has become a household name and contemporary baseball brand with his many accomplishments, but it remains to be seen how his “brand” will endure the test of time.
Yes, I did say BRAND. Brand, you say. Is an individual a brand? You bet.
Joe DiMaggio, forever linked with Marilynn Monroe, his affiliation as a spokesperson for Mr. Coffee, the ongoing admiration of his remarkable streak and now, the launch of Joe DiMaggio products and website. If that’s not branding what is it?
Mantle as well lives on, with a restaurant in New York the countless number 7 shirts still worn by Yankee fans and much more that sustains his brand.
Jeter’s “brand” is seen everywhere in a more highly sophisticated media and marketing world and that will continue long after he is finished playing but will it transcend generations the way DiMaggio and Mantle have?
Players and celebrities are indeed brands just the way, Coke and Pepsi, are. People buy products and have relationships with brands.
What we as business people need to remember is that we are all brands.  We don’t have 3,000 hits or 56-game hitting streaks, but we DO have assets and accomplishments and we must leverage those to make consumers want to have relationships with us and purchase our products and services.  How good we are at doing that may very well, decide if our brands stand out and endure the test of time.    

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