I type this post to act as a warning for other professionals or hopeful professionals in the sports PR industry and I am not specifically trying to call out the Golden State Warriors PR director. With that being said, I felt like this issue needed to be brought up here.
On May 21st, Warriors PR director Raymond Ridder commented anonymously on a Warriors fan website (WarriorsWorld.net). Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News has more details about what exactly happpened:
In the comment, signed as “Flunkster Dude,” Ridder wrote that he appreciated that afternoon’s season-ticket-holder conference call, conducted by GM Larry Riley, team president Robert Rowell and broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald.
“I actually enjoyed the call and appreciate their honesty,” the Flunkster Dude wrote. (Full comment attached below.)
As PR director, Ridder was heavily involved in setting up the call, in large part to stem the tide of recent negative publicity about the Warriors’ front-office decisions and the shedding of former executive VP Chris Mullin.
After the afternoon posting, there was an immediate uproar on the WW.net site when the site managers revealed that they had traced the comment’s IP address to the Warriors offices.
If done properly, I have absolutely no problem with someone from a team’s PR department commenting on sport blog posts or message boards. However anonymous commenting never seems to be a good idea when it comes to this issue. If you don’t feel comfortable associating yourself and team with the comment, you probably should opt to forgo the comment altogether.
When it comes to message boards, a lot of the threads tend to have a negative nature for them. Just like sports talk radio, it’s easier for the callers to talk about something going wrong. There’s only so many ways to say that I love my team or am happy they’re doing well, but if a team is going through a tough time or a big loss the phone lines blow up. While it can certainly be valuable to monitor the message boards and see what the fans are saying, you also have to take that with a grain of salt and realize that you’re getting a certain subset of your target demographic. As a result, it may not be helpful to insert an official opinion from the PR department on certain topics, especially if the discussion is so negative that your comment would look completely out of place.
Personally, I used to be a fairly active member of a popular Red Wings’ forum and comment on a lot of Wings’ blogs before I started interning for the team. Since then I still visit and read what fans and bloggers have to stay, but I pretty much keep my comments to myself. I have two reasons for that decision. First, my comments would likely be more positive in nature just because I am a part of the organization and respect what we do. Since I don’t want to proclaim that I’m associated with the Wings in every comment or forum post, I just don’t leave any at all. Second, you have to keep in mind that you do represent the organization. Even if you are visiting these blogs and forums outside of work, you have to realize that people can find out your affiliation with the team and a poor comment could not only hurt the team but your personal brand.
Honesty is the best policy in this regard so please don’t anonymously comment on a blog or fan site if you work for a team’s PR department — it’s just asking for trouble. But that’s just my opinion, what do SPRB readers think about this?