This morning I attended a great presentation through the San Diego Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Aptly and simply known by his Twitter handle @ChargersPRguy, Bill Johnston, Director of Public Relations for the San Diego Chargers, gave us PR folks not only helpful professional advice but a captivating and entertaining look inside the world of sports PR.
Peppered with funny anecdotes from the ghosts of Chargers past and even examples of internal conflict between his PR division and team management, Bill structured his presentation around his top 10 list of ways to be a successful PR pro.
As you can imagine, the elephant in the room was the looming residual of Bill Johnston’s most recent PR crisis; the infamous ‘Take a Chill Pill’ letter he wrote to angry Chargers fans after the team’s devastating loss to the Denver Broncos last October.
As a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan, I empathize whole-heartedly with Chargers fans. Almost 45 years of a checkered past, a parade of embarrassing losses and a series of team management decisions that leave most sports fans saying “WTF?!” make Chargers fans and Saints fans somewhat kindred spirits. My only hope is that San Diegans, can forgive us for taking Drew Brees and Darren Sproles.
I must admit, prior to meeting him, I questioned the ‘Take a Chill Pill’ approach as a PR tactic. Now, I applaud and even envy it. I envy the Chargers PR guy. He took a risk; a big one, and he reminded us all that it is just a game. He came to his team’s defense. He ‘Bolted up’ and got some fans ‘Charged up.’
So, while San Diegans may be up in arms about the chiding they received from the Chargers PR guy, I think the message was simple, yet brilliant. “If you want these players and coaches to succeed, then support them. Don’t tear them down…. We’re all at our best when we know others believe in us.” True fans take the good with the bad. They ride the waves that can often be rough. They accept the losses and they party hard for the wins…because that’s what being a fan means.
Public Relations Manager