Those of us who work in the public relations departments of professional sports teams or very high profile college sports programs realize that we keep the team and players first, and that it is vital to do our best work behind the curtain, so to speak.
Believe me, it’s what goes on behind the curtain that sets up everything else, in pro sports, in politics and in a lot of public businesses.
I have at times advised people that it is what happens in the back room that matters most; the front room is just for show.
I don’t do many peeks behind the curtain, but here is a small one today. Because my staff and I sometimes chuckle about the perils we face daily — all a part of the job, and accepted by all, but it happens all the time.
Let’s take an amusing look at a “simple five-minute interview.”
Simple, right? The press guy asks for an interview, PR finds the player, interview happens.
The request might be for a player who has an issue, relative to performance, playing time, an off the field situation or problem, whatever.
You should be able to tell by whether or not the hairs on your neck stand up when the request is made. If that happens, take it as a bad sign.
So, let’s say the PR guy proceeds with this questionable strategy of setting it up.
The coach is probably unhappy because he did not want the player talked to at all, and expresses it to the PR man in very specific terms.
The player is unhappy because it took five minutes, which to him was too long, and he beefs at you.
The press member is unhappy because he only got five minutes—it was too short—and he beefs at you.
Other press members are unhappy because he got that guy and they didn’t, and they beef at you. “He gets all the stories,” the beef might go.
Other players might be unhappy because they were not requested, did not get publicity, not getting enough pub, that guy gets all the interviews, and that gets expressed to PR, again in very colorful expression.
Someone high up in the front office might be unhappy because of either the size of article, placement of article in paper, the pictures (or lack of pictures) that went along with the article, and THAT gets expressed to the PR person. And if that complaint comes from high up, it can be a lonely day at the office for the PR man.
Finally, the PR man himself is unhappy, because all of the above just happened to him, and he questions why he set it up at all. Good question, by the way.
It is a delicate line to walk. A tightrope with no net — but if you think you need a net, maybe you should not be in the circus.
You have to have your head on a swivel and be thinking of the absolute best interests of the team, the coach, the political candidate, whoever and whatever is the focus of your organization or movement, at all times.
What benefits the team is what you do.
Otherwise, it might just be better to decline that simple five minute interview.