Break Into Sports With Public Relations

[highlight]The PRSSA 2012 National Conference was held in San Francisco from Oct. 12-16. Over the upcoming weeks, Progressions will provide summaries of select sessions and insights from the presenters. Want to write your own recap of a session? Contact Editor in Chief Ashley Mauder at[/highlight]

Kicking off the first round of professional development sessions at the PRSSA 2012 National Conference was a session led by Andrew Nicholson, director, new media for the Sacramento Kings and Nima Zarrabi, director of marketing/public relations for REP1 Sports. Both men discussed the importance of public relations, and the benefits of using public relations in the sports industry.

Nicholson gave attendees insight on a huge campaign that the Sacramento Kings implemented last season to create hype for a big game against Oakland. The objective was to encourage fans to represent the Kings by participating in “Black Thursday.” – fans were encouraged to wear black to the game and send their pictures to social networking sites run by the Kings’ staff. On game day, nearly everyone in the entire arena wore black and perhaps in part because of this effort, the Kings won.

Sacramento Kings

An important step to the success of this public relations campaign, Nicholson said, was the players’ involvement. The players were humanized to the audience through a series of videos and ads to promote the “Black Thursday.” At the end of the campaign, players appeared in another video thanking the fans for their support.

Nicholson explained that without public relations, the Sacramento Kings would not have had nearly as much success in their “Black Friday” campaign as they did.


Important tips from Nicholson included:

  • Work hard and accept the grind.
  • Make the most of every step. It is going to be a hard journey, so embrace it.
  • Teamwork is the key to success.

Zarrabi explained the sports industry from a different view, with tips on how attendees can brand themselves as well as branding sports figures.

Part of Zarrabi’s job is to prepare football players who will soon be drafted to the NFL for media relations efforts. From January to April, he preps the players to make sure they will be able to speak to the press and fans in a comfortable manner. Mock interviews help teach the players how to answer tough questions related to their personal lives. The time that Zarrabi spends with the players is critical because he often shows them the steps required to launch their careers.

Nima Zarrabi

Important tips from Zarrabi include:

  • Always bring something to an interview that will advocate yourself. Whether you bring in newspaper clippings of articles you wrote or a mock public relations plan you created; showing your work goes further than speaking about it.
  • Build up relationships with athletes that could potentially make it to the professional scene. Not only will you gain experience in representing them, but hopefully they may want and need you to professionally represent them one day.
  • Work hard at your internships; it is like an athlete training to be drafted.
  • Keep your eye on the prize.
About the blogger
This is a guest post by Alyssa Carfi, treasurer for the Fashion Institute of Technology PRSSA Chapter. She is studying Advertising Market and Communications with an interest in public relations.
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