A memo to commissioner Larry Scott and the Pac-12 CEOs:
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I’d like to congratulate all of you on another successful bowl season and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately I can do neither of those things, so let’s get right to business, shall we?
It has come to my attention that the Pac-12 is seeking public relations help to repair its tarnished brand. According to John Canzano of The Oregonian, the league retained PR giant FleishmanHillard to perform damage control after a particularly tumultuous few months in LarryWorld.
As Oregon State president Ed Ray so eloquently stated in an email obtained by The San Jose Mercury News, the Pac-12’s real problems stem not from its 4-13 bowl record over the past two seasons, a men’s basketball season with more federal indictments than NCAA Tournament victories, a self-inflicted officiating scandal or an ever-growing revenue disparity between the Pac-12 and its major conference peers.
No, the real problem is poor messaging.
“We should talk about seizing the communications initiative in the sports world,” Ray wrote to the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors last fall. “I think some of your concern is probably due to having to deal continually with the characters who populate sports media.”
To that end, the Pac-12 has retained a PR firm to drum up some positive press. Among the recommendations, as reported by The Oregonian:
• “Conduct in-depth analysis of the influencer landscape to identify neutral to positive voices and systematically build relationships with these influencers to shift the conversation.”
• “Expand upon media partnerships with The Players’ Tribune and Los Angeles Times and identify new national partner(s) to increase national and regional coverage.”
• “Enlist one of comedy’s great ‘coaches’ or ‘fans’ to star in a digital series that addresses the challenges of last-minute schedule and late games in a way that honors the true commitment of the Pac-12 fan.”
Not to be the nasty sports media character here, but what did you guys pay for that? Because if it was the more than the cost of a ticket to Monday’s CFP title game, you probably got ripped off.
Fortunately, I’m here to help. To demonstrate my goodwill toward the Pac-12, I’m offering these PR suggestions free of charge.
Though we appreciate commissioner Scott’s willingness to be interviewed anywhere and any time, our polling indicates his favorability ratings are at an all-time low. Thus, we suggest hiring a celebrity spokesperson to represent the Pac-12 in various public capacities, such as holding a sandwich board on Market Street during rush hour.
I know money is tight, so I’ve contacted a few B- and C-list celebrities who might fit the bill.
• “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey
• Chantix spokesman Ray Liotta
• White House attorney and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani
• Larry Culpepper, the Dr. Pepper guy
• Snickers the trained seal
• Tesla founder Elon Musk (He already hates the SEC!)
• The Australian Bee Gees, noted friends of the Pac-12
•Louis C.K., who I hear is available at a very reasonable rate
If you like those ideas, here are a few other can’t-miss suggestions.
• Create a Pac-12 reality series in which Larry Scott, Woodie Dixon, Bill Walton and Mike Leach share a Bay Area high-rise.
• Strategic product placement. You know those kids who wipe down the basketball court during timeouts? Replace them with Roombas.
• Two words: Jell-O Polo.
• Continue the Pac-12’s innovative strategic vision for implementing corporate buzzwords and meaningless tech jargon in every public statement. Disruption! Brand awareness! Synergy!
• Strengthen the “Pac-12 After Dark” brand by forbidding certain teams from playing before midnight. I’m looking at you, Oregon State.
I know sports writers can be cynical at times, but I offer these suggestions in a true spirit of cooperation as someone who wants what’s best for the conference we all follow. If you’d rather spend tens of thousands of dollars on fancypants media consultants, well, that’s your decision. I just want you to know I’m here if you need some free advice.
At least this way you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
Follow Austin on Twitter @austinmeekRG. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.