Friday, November 19, 2010

PR in the Postseason

Last month, the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time since the team’s inception 38 years ago. Okay, so I know this is old news, and don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash the entire goings-on of this year’s postseason.  In a nutshell, the Rangers lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants. While it was a hard loss for long-time Texas fans, we couldn’t stay sad for long since the loss came after a career season full of ups and more ups. So, why am I writing about this? It’s been over for a few weeks, after all.

As a PR student, what I realized while watching (mostly in disbelief) this postseason is how the 2010 Rangers squad must have been a PR practitioner’s dream. Think about it. The Rangers were the underdogs of the American League. And people love the underdog, especially in sports. This makes PR efforts a breeze, right? When the Rangers beat the Yankees in the American League finals, excitement roared across the nation. Why? Because, in general, people would much rather support the underdog. Support the little guy. Support the mom-and-pop store over the international big box. And since people love the underdogs, the media loves covering them.

Did that make this season a free ride for the Rangers’ folks in charge of media relations? As a PR pro, when your client is an underdog in the business world, you have to work much harder to get media attention for the client. But, when your client is the underdog in the sports world, media attention automatically follows. Your job is finished!

No, of course the job doesn’t end there, and I am not discrediting the Rangers’ PR crew. Just because the Rangers received a lot of media attention, does not mean their PR people just sat back and watched it happen. They still had to manage the attention and coordinate with a lot of reporters, camera crews and even bloggers, which can certainly be a difficult task. Plus, they also dealt with some negative media attention stemming from players’ personal issues and season-long changes in ownership and management. But, my point is that representing a team that the media itself is rooting for must be easier than representing one that the media or the community doesn’t support.

Now that the season is complete, uncertainty looms overhead. What will happen next year? Sure, it’s up to the team to determine how much media attention it will earn, but I have to think that the PR people behind the Rangers have another long, fun (hopefully drama-free) season ahead of them. Working for any organization with a large public following has to be a lot to handle, especially a successful sports team. In addition to added media attention, the Rangers now have a plethora of new bandwagon fans, maybe from younger generations who are reviving their baseball fandom. This creates an entirely new challenge for the PR people behind the organization.

No matter what happens I wish the team―and its behind-the-scenes support― good luck this next season—hopefully the Rangers will win the whole thing this year, even if it means giving up that the coveted underdog title while trying to stay on the front page and the center of the attention.

This blog was contributed by C. Pharr's fall intern, Carrie Rodgers.