Welcome to Boston Kyrie Irving,
We’re so happy you are here. However as both a Boston sports fan and a PR professional, I can admit Boston doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to embracing new sports stars. Some say it’s a hard place to play. Since the Celtics traded an extremely popular player, Isaiah Thomas, to get you, your degree of PR difficulty is even higher than most.
My dual role in life has also given me some insight as to how you can build a positive PR brand in Boston.
- Image is everything: Boston sports fans love players who show effort. From KG to Dustin Pedroia, some of our favorite players are the ones who aren’t afraid to let us see them sweat (literally). Players with a quiet, unemotional personality are seen as uncaring. J.D. Drew always looked as placid as a calm lake when he played for the Red Sox and it took a grand slam during the 2007 ALCS to get Boston fans to warm up to him.
- Avoid negativity: All players experience slumps. Boston sports fans can be less than subtle when highly paid, highly talented players struggle. Just ask David Price. Complaining about it or showing anger will hurt your brand. Ignore the newspaper, turn of the radio, and keep working and the cheers will be even louder when your natural talent shines through.
- Study Celtics history: Around here, Celtics Pride isn’t the name of an awful movie, it’s how the fans feel about the franchise that has won the most NBA championships (17). Fans born long after the bulk of those banners were raised still revere Bill Russell and Larry Bird. Showing off your green team knowledge in interviews is an instant slam dunk with fans.
- Embrace everything Boston: You got off to a good start by asking the right way to pronounce Waltham. Keep it up. When Shaq finished his career in Boston, everyone knew he was playing out the string, but it was ok because he guest conducted the Boston Pops, pretended to be a statue on a bench in Harvard Square and donated one of his giant shoes to the Boston Children’s Museum.
- Be supportive of other Boston sports teams: You will often see Patriots on the Jumbotron at the TD Garden and supportive tweets sent between teams during the playoffs. If you root for a team in a different city, do it quietly. Even the universally worshiped Tom Brady got grief for wearing a Yankees hat in public.
- Be charitable: Boston fans love players who support local charities like The Jimmy Fund and Run to Home Base. Photos of Boston athletes visiting children at any of Boston’s many hospitals are always published, posted and shared.
- Have Boston’s back: Big Papi is the gold standard of sports PR, but his popularity hit new heights when he addressed the crowd after the Boston Marathon bombings and said, “This is our F’ing city.”
So good luck Kyrie Irving. While you were dismantling the Green during the playoffs last year, I told my son how much we would love you if you were on the Celtics. I’m looking forward to you proving me right.