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Under Armour’s Olympic-Sized Attempt at Damage Control

UA speed skating suit

Sure, it looks cute but what a drag. AmIRight?

Earlier this week, there was an international kerfuffle over Under Armour’s ingenuity and allegedly having a hand in the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team sucking in Sochi. Although Shani Davis and Heather Richardson were trying to take the high road, be good craftsmen and not blame their tools, they took the road always traveled, wadded up the aerodynamic suit, dropped trow and blamed Under Armour.

Why? Back flap. Sounds like a problem for Weight Watchers, right?

Well, even the dietary wunderkinds there couldn’t help this foot-in-mouth disorder. The clothing maker was stumbling upon many tongues to figure out how to spin its way out of this. And now, it found a hero … actually, a heroine. She is the betrothed to Eldred Woods, U.S. injured downhill skier Lindsey Vonn.

Wait, what?

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Lessons in Media Relations from Derek Jeter

Sure, Derek Jeter is a great athlete…but can he teach us anything about communications and media relations strategy?

Kwittken + Company CEO/friend of the site Aaron Kwittken’s most recent Forbes story says “yes”. In fact, Kwittken goes so far as to call the veteran shortstop “one of the greatest communicators of all time.”

His points:

  • Jeter sidestepped the sports media entirely by announcing his retirement on Facebook (which he primarily used to promote his charity in the past), prompting The Boston Globe to call him “the Yankee you can’t hate
  • When the frenzy around his search for that 3,000th hit got too hot in 2011, he turned not to ESPN but to HBO, which made a documentary about the story:

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Bode Miller Defends NBC Reporter After She’s Slammed for ‘Tone-Deaf’ and ‘Shameful’ Interview

After becoming the oldest medalist in Olympic alpine history, Bode Miller found himself in an interview with NBC reporter Christin Cooper, who questioned him repeatedly about the death of his brother, and how that loss has shaped his experience at the Olympics. While such personal questions are often asked of athletes in this type of situation, Cooper seemed not to take any of the hints that her line of questioning was pushing Miller into an extremely emotional state, and she failed to let up until he had broken down into tears, hidden his face, and had been rendered speechless.

The scene sparked an angry outcry from fans and journalists alike, who felt Cooper lacked tact and sensitivity. The AP’s David Bauder, for instance, called the interview “tone-deaf and cruel, and short-circuited the thoughtful, intelligent perspectives Miller had started to offer until he couldn’t talk anymore,” and The New York Times‘ Richard Sandomir wrote that “Cooper and NBC lacked the sensitivity to know when enough was enough.”

In a classy and kind response to the uproar, Miller himself took to Twitter to thank his fans for expressing their concern for his well-being, but also to defend his interviewer.

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Game of Thrones Shares Some Content with U.S. Olympians

Today in Things We Missed This Weekend, HBO’s Game of Thrones took a little extra step to increase the already-insane hype for Season 4′s April 2 debut.

Well before most viewers were settled in to check out the latest trailer ahead of True Detective (which just got really interesting, BTW), the show’s Twitter feed sent a few custom “sigils” to American Olympians who count themselves among its many, many fans.

Here’s the first one, for figurer skater Meryl Davis. We particularly like the co-opting of Twitter bio platitudes (hat tip to Henry David Thoreau):

The hope, of course, was that these athletes would share the custom graphics with their own Twitter/Instagram followers.

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Why UnderArmour Got Too Big for Team USA’s Olympic Britches

speed skaters

A good craftsman never blames his tools. Unless you skate for Team USA. 

Athletic wear companies are always trying to trick up uniforms. Look at the Oregon Ducks as Nike’s petri dish. Adidas is bringing the catchy Zebra look back. And then there’s UnderArmour, which looks like they drop a hit of acid before they take it to the drawing board.

They make great stuff. I own several shoes and suits of theirs. Suffice to say, I’m not alone so Team USA thought it would be a great idea to get the company to help Team USA speed skating to “protect this house.” Together, with defense giant Lockheed Martin, a newer, faster, stronger uniform was made.

And now, it sucks out loud or has it?

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Michael Sam’s Publicist Shares Lessons Learned from His Coming Out Story

NCAA Football: Missouri at Indiana

We think you’ll agree that Fifteen Minutes PR chief and Reputation.com vice chairman Howard Bragman scored one of 2014′s biggest PR wins to date by breaking and managing the Michael Sam story.

He also happens to be a LinkedIn “influencer” who shared his lessons learned in a post earlier today. His key point: coming out is less about making news than “owning your truth”—which sounds like a great message management tagline.

So what are his universal PR lessons?

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Derek Jeter Wants You to Pay Attention to Him One Last Time

shutterstock_105336665

Oh hi.

One thing is clear this Valentine’s Day: Derek Jeter loves the attention—and so do the products he will help promote.

The New York Yankees veteran/endorsement machine’s announcement (via Facebook) that the coming season would be his last was really the beginning of what looks to be an exhausting marketing campaign that should serve as a model for future sports stars planning to hang up their cleats.

This will go well beyond t-shirts and posters.

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Chobani Brings Russian ‘Yogurt Standoff’ to a Peaceful End

cups-pyramid-with-new

We kinda feel for Chobani. The “Greek” yogurt company only wanted to amplify the good will earned by its sponsorship of American Olympians and this cool follow-up to its Super Bowl spot by sending product samples to U.S. athletes in Sochi…but Putin’s “regulators” were like, “Nyet” due to arcane “customs rules”, something something.

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Richie Incognito Got Tired of Living Up to His Name via Twitter

NYDailyNews incognitoA long time ago, Miami Dolphin (really effin’) offensive lineman Richie Incognito created a viral poo-poo storm when he blasted his teammate Jonathon Martin on the Twitter when he deemed that he should be worthy of stricken with the worst carpal tunnel in the history of ever with this family-friendly tweet:

“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”

Since then, Richie Incognito has been a skosh of legal trouble, sent packing from his NFL job and hired a PR team. He has been advised by everyone in the world to shut up, but meh? A guy’s got to vent right?

And man, did he.

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Behind the Michael Sam ‘First Openly Gay Football Player’ Story

It was the perfect time to break the perfect sports story: one week after the biggest, most boring Super Bowl ever, a young man set to become an NFL pro told the media that he happens to be gay.

Of course it wasn’t just a spontaneous announcement from Michael Sam; it was a PR masterpiece of sorts orchestrated my one Howard Bragman, his agency Fifteen Minutes Public Relations, and many others.

You’ll note that Sam made sure to thank Bragman and Empire Athletes in his second-ever tweet:

Sam reached 50,000 followers faster than any account we’ve seen outside the Vatican—and most of the people who had problems with his announcement chose not to voice their opinions in public.

Now for some backstory behind this historic PR Win.

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