The BLACK paPR Report


PR from an African American Perspective

Talk to Us, LeBron

There are people who know when they need a publicist or PR consultant and hunt us down. I love those people. Generally, they are savvy and understand that they are a brand or a brand in the making, and they understand the value of PR in getting them from point A to Z. These are the people we love and love to serve.

There is another group of people who kind of sort of think they need a PR consultant and/or publicist and they thoughtfully explore the option. We love them too, because they are people who want to make an informed decision before plunking down their hard-earned money. And they are generally great clients once they are convinced that we can serve them well.

There is yet a third group of people who truly believe they need a PR consultant and/or publicist and they really do not because they do not have any clearly defined goals or any knowledge of themselves as a brand. Some practitioners will take them on as a challenge while others will refer them to the practitioners who will take them on as a challenge. 

And then there are the people who really need a PR consultant and/or publicist but decide to wing it alone under the close watch of media critics and even fans. 

Just like my beloved LeBron James. 

LeBron, you really should hire me

On the Monday following the Cleveland Browns’ gift of a win to the Dallas Cowboys in Cleveland, no less, one of my favorite Plain Dealer columnists Phillip Morris wrote an editorial (Sick of LeBron James Not Cheering for Cleveland) about LeBron’s chronic and flagrant support of opposing teams. Phillip wrote:

“Sunday, I passed the point where I can ignore James’ trumpeting of his loyalties to other teams. When he hugged and chatted up Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones on the sidelines before Sunday’s Brown’s debacle, I could look at the greeting as two businessmen trading stock tips. But then James, wearing a Yankees cap, extended the same warm embrace to players Terrell Owens and Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. While Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth was busy pulling a groin muscle during warm-ups, James was on the Cowboys sideline encouraging Owens to get the ‘popcorn ready.'”

Geez, LeBron, if you’re ticking off Phillip, another person who could use a publicist, then how do you think the people who buy the tickets to watch you play feel? It’s really not a good look to tell people who love you — who buy the tickets, the gear and pay the taxes that support the Q where you work — that you don’t care for our city’s teams.  Am I oversimplifying matters? Please help.  

I guess it wouldn’t be so bad, but LeBron doesn’t talk to the fans vis-a-vis the press about his choice to wear a Yankees cap and root for the Cowboys. Just like he didn’t talk about that controversial Vogue cover. Though he did talk about being cited for driving 101 mph calling it “no big deal.”

Oh yeah, there was also the time LeBron refused to sign a letter condemning the Chinese government’s part in the genocide in Darfur. 

You said you didn’t have enough information to comment. I would have briefed you, LeBron, that is if I were your PR consultant. 

Recently, named Mr. James a Do Wrong Man for the above-mentioned infractions, a distinction that was borderline self-righteous on their part, but one that deserved a reasonable response other than the one stated in their profile. “Everything my name is on is going to be criticized … Who cares what anyone says?” Unfortunately, thought a whole bunch of black female consumers who have purchasing power and buy his sneakers and jerseys for their kids would care. 

As a PR consultant, I know how difficult it is to convince a client that they should care about what anyone says, still one word seems to work. MONEY. 

MONEY as in income source is a pretty good reason to care. Ultimately, people tire of being mocked and abused, and will place their dollar loyalties elsewhere. Fans don’t mind a sports star having their favorites, but in this case LeBron is from northeast Ohio and is employed by a northeast Ohio team. Perhaps, LeBron’s fans are owed some consideration for their loyalties to the city and especially to him. 

That was my first bit of free advice and here is my second: Talk. Talk to us, the fans and stakeholders in your career, and tell us the things we need to hear to remain (1) engaged with you in meaningful dialogue and (2) endeared to you.  We’re grateful you’re doing philanthropic work in the community, but that’s not the only time we need to hear from you. If you could just stop taunting us with the Yankee caps and public support of opposing teams, we’ll probably remain loyal to you should you decide to ever leave. 

So LeBron, how do we make this right? How can we make this better? Silence can be cruel, don’t be cruel. Hire a PR consultant. Talk. 

Best, Robin Caldwell

Filed under: African Americans, Crisis Management, Media Relations, Public Relations, Sports PR, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Pam Purifoy says:

    Robin, you hit the nail right on the head! You are the public relations industry’s publicist! You write what I’m thinking!

    All the best to YOU!

  2. chad783 says:

    Robin…you can also add Chad Ocho Cinco and now Kayne West. Check out my blog to see my recent entries on the other two superstars publicity troubles.

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