Sunday, September 21, 2014

Minnesota PRSA's fortuitous sports public relations event

 

minnesota timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx VP of Communications Brad Ruiter addresses PR professionals.
In a week when NFL players' alleged misdeeds dominated the headlines, the breakfast event hosted by the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America on sports public relations and communications was fortuitous indeed.

The event, held at Target Center (home of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx), featured members of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx communications team. Brian Kimmes, facilities project manager, kicked things off with an overview of the transformation of a nearby building from Block E to Mayo Clinic Square. The building will be unique in that it will have a sports medicine center in the same building as the team's practice area, something that no other NBA team can claim.

Next up was Brad Ruiter, vice president of communications for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. After a brief overview of his background and current position, a lively question-and-answer session ensued.

The first topic? This year's trade of all-star player Kevin Love. "We got extremely lucky that LeBron James wanted to go back to Cleveland," said Ruiter. "The dominoes started to fall into place."

It didn't take long for the indictment of Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson to come up.

"Don't blame the Minnesota Vikings PR team for what is happening with the Adrian Peterson situation. In professional sports, the buck stops with the owner," said Ruiter, referring to the team's loss of sponsors and a press conference in which Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman looked extremely uncomfortable. "The Minnesota Vikings have gotten themselves into a hole and need to get themselves out day by day."

Ruiter knows the public relations personnel at the Vikings and the other Minnesota professional sports teams. In fact, the Timberwolves collaborated with the Vikings to get the recent stadium bonding bill passed. The Vikings approached the state legislature while the Timberwolves handled the Minneapolis city government lobbying efforts.

Ruiter compared and contrasted Timberwolves and Lynx fans, saying that Timberwolves fans are very cautious about the team and are taking a "wait-and-see approach." On the other hand, Lynx fans are a small yet very passionate group. "Lynx fans would run through a wall for the team," said Ruiter.

While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pummeled in the media for his handling of off-the-field drama, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been praised for the way he handled this summer's Donald Sterling/Los Angeles Clippers situation. The difference, according to Ruiter, is that Silver stepped in right away. 

In addition to getting an inside look at the public relations operations of an NBA team, attendees also learned something important about sports public relations -- a lot of it involves reactionary situations.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!
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