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Keeping the Press in Public Relations: Lessons from Kobe Bryant

Posted on December 9, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
by Shelby Bonner.

Fan or not of Kobe Bryant, the news of his emotional poem announcing that he would retire at the end of the current NBA season was one of the biggest sports news stories over Thanksgiving weekend.

Bryant’s short poem directly addressed his younger days as a basketball player in a wistful and sentimental tone. In the poem Bryant wrote, “I fell in love with you, A love so deep I gave you my all.” Bryant went on to write, “You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream, And I’ll always love you for it. But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.”

The announcement was very unexpected, with supposedly no prior media knowledge. Another important factor is that he chose to reveal his retirement on a website, The Player’s Tribune.


Bryant’s way of announcing his retirement was shocking to many; most were expecting a full in-depth interview when he chose to retire. People expected Bryant’s retirement announcement to be something similar to the legendary televised special orchestrated by ESPN in which Lebron James stated, “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”

And while Bryant’s ode to basketball was a refreshing way to make a big announcement to many, public relations professionals seem to be a little uneasy. The fact that Bryant chose a self-publishing website, ultimately bypassing reporters, has a much different meaning to people in the industry.

It goes without saying that public relations professionals still need the press. So, how can we keep up with the evolving media, without completely ignoring the press?

We must make sure to carefully evaluate all stories that are posted on any blogs to keep everyone happy. Monitoring content will be seen as a peaceful act and keep journalists, readers and your company in good spirits with each other and diffuse tension.

Also, it is necessary to let our clients know when and where will be the best option for them to make a statement and respond to an issue. Good counseling results in good decision making, which will leave not only your client, but also the press, happy with the choice that was made.

While our first priority as a public relations professional should always be the client, keep in mind that it’s important not to burn any bridges that we might want to cross back over.

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