This year at the American Football Coaches Association and the Senior Bowl the Anachel team discussed the importance of coaches shedding their old school mentality of, “The film doesn’t have sound,” when it comes to talking about themselves as well as the importance of taking control of and carefully managing their own brands and reputations.
Like it or not, we live in a search engine world where (almost) everything we want to know we can find on Google. Think about it: When we need an answer to a question or we want more information, what do we do? We Google it. What pops out of the “Google machine” is a powerful driver for how people form opinions and make critical decisions. Today, a coach’s career can be destroyed in less than one hour by false narratives online or an uniformed social media mob mentality. So, what can you do?
HERE ARE 5 WAYS COACHES CAN START TO CONTROL THEIR BRANDS AND REPUTATIONS.
- Understand that your brand is what you say about you, and your reputation is what millions of others may say about you. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and a litany of other (good and bad) online advocacy campaigns, reputation and brand terrorism is our new normal and being able to minimize and control it is a very specialized strategic communications game plan. Start controlling your brand and you’ll control your reputation.
- Have a strategic communications plan, and as Jody Powell, former White House Press Secretary said, “Being pissed off is not a plan.” Just like
yougame plan to compete, you have to have a strategic communications plan for your brand and reputation management. And, the onus of responsibility for managing one’s brand, doesn’t fall on your agent or employer. These plans are not fluff. They are based on attaining and maintaining your business goals, an online analytics audit of your reputation and brand strategies and reputation tactics to grow and protect your legacy, among other key elements. Don’t skip the strategic communications plan; it’s like throwing out the architectural blueprint as you build your house.
- Own your online footprint or someone else will. That means developing your owned media. What the heck is owned media? Owned media is any content produced and controlled by you (or your reputation team) such as web content, videos, social media, guest columns, etc. Creating and maintaining uniquely branded owned media is critical to internal culture and external branding. Having owned media (websites, social media, etc.) will also allow you and your team to counter
negativityand quell false narratives when the sh*t hits the fan.
- Get over the, “You’re not that guy,” attitude regarding brand and reputation strategies. There were 5,000 coaches at the AFCA and Senior Bowl combined and 4,000 of them were out of work. Good coaches. How are you going to differentiate yourself in a noisy marketplace? Maybe you got fired and believe sitting out a year is the answer. Go ahead and submerge your head in the river while you fly fish hoping it will all be good when the coaching carousel comes around. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. With digital and social media, the haters will still be perched on page one of Google in 2020. Stakeholders such as franchise owners, GMs, presidents, athletic directors will never run the risk of hiring a coach who could potentially get them fired. You could be the best coach on the planet, and one issue that makes its way online can potentially destroy your opportunities. You have to be able to proactively plan for what may be looming in or out of your proverbial closet.
- Hire experts. From political candidates to entertainers and CEOs, high profile leaders have strategic communications and brand and reputation management teams outside of their workplace. The employer is going to take care of you, well, until they don’t. They are building their brand, not yours. Ideally, the two work in partnership, but to do nothing is basically crossing your fingers and surrendering your reputation to the masses. There’s an old saying in football, “You’re either coaching it or letting it happen.” Hire people who know what they’re doing and start securing your reputation and legacy.
ANACHEL is a strategic, litigation, public relations, crisis communications and reputation management company. Its partners, Carrie Cecil and Ramsey Poston, have worked in politics, on political campaigns, for law firms, search firms, professional and intercollegiate sports leagues, energy and entertainment corporations, media conglomerates, and regulatory agencies.