PR Winners and Losers in the NBA DraftThere’s a reason drafts are becoming some of the most interactive programming in professional sports. The shows are not just about who the teams pick, they’re about uniting the fans and filling the faithful with hope so they will show up for games, buy merchandise, and Talk Talk Talk about “their” team. And this draft gave teams and fans plenty to talk – and argue – about.

The 76ers, coming off a string of disappointing years, drafted another big man in the hopes of shoring up their future by building through youth. Ben Simmons, from LSU by way of Australia, should provide a strong force under the hoops and an interested cog in a machine that’s not quite ready to challenge in the East, but getting better every year.

Simmons was far from the only foreign-born player selected this year. In fact, 14 foreign players were picked in the first two rounds of the draft, reflecting both stronger international development as well as strong scouting outside the U.S.

Way back in the 90s, when the U.S. sent the Dream Team to the Olympic Games, the result, was essentially a foregone conclusion. The USA would win gold. But the event was also a coming out party for American hoops, an introduction to a soccer-obsessed globe. After watching Magic, Bird, Mike, and the guys dominate, millions of new basketball fans were born. These fans grew up, and so did their kids. Now, two decades later, the fruit of that PR effort is ripe for the picking.

The Suns went international as well, grabbing power forward Dragan Bender, a 7-foot-tall Croatian, who spent time developing in the Israeli professional league, and the Pelicans picked Bahamian shooting guard Buddy Hield. Closer to home but still from across the border, Jamal Murray was picked up by the Nuggets after standout time at another college hoops powerhouse, Kentucky.

That’s not to say traditional American basketball programs didn’t have something to pound their chest about as well. The Lakers had the second pick in the draft – how long since that’s happened? – and they chose Duke’s Brandon Ingram. An excellent shooter and ball handler, Ingram also comes from one of the nation’s perennial top basketball programs. Ingram is very young, only 18, but the NBA may just be the most forgiving of the pro spots when it comes to helping younger players excel early in their careers.

Each of these players, as well as the others picked in the draft, are not only there to handle the ball and learn how to be pros. Even more important for them and their teams, these players need to learn how to Be Pros, how to exist as a marketing apparatus on an even larger machine full of other previously plugged in marketing brands. This reality is even more pronounced as the NBA became the first major US sport to allow brands to advertise on jerseys. So these newly drafted players are entering a new world. Until now, they simply represented themselves. Now they have the team and an affiliated brand, literally, on their backs.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

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