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6 Questions with Brian Berger, President/Founder of BBPR Inc.

Front Office Sports

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By: Natalie Mikolich, @npmikolich

We recently caught up with Brian Berger, President/Founder of BBPR Inc. He shared with us what it is like to work in sports public relations, how the Sports PR Summit came to be and his advice for those who want to work in sports.

How did you get started in sports public relations and what was your first internship? What was your first career position?

I got my start in PR working for the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA). I interned with the team in their broadcasting department and then parlayed that position into a job as an event coordinator running events at the Memorial Coliseum. When the Trail Blazers decided to move from Memorial Coliseum to the Rose Garden arena (now the Moda Center), I moved into a PR/Marketing role. Part of my job was doing PR for the new arena during construction, traveling to other arenas to gather information for our arena and serving on the Grand Opening committee. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. I worked with athletes, rock stars and senior executives and it prepared me for when I started my own companies.

Where do you currently work and what is your position? What does this consist of?

I am currently the President/Founder of BBPR Inc. (Brian Berger Public Relations Inc), a boutique strategic and crisis communications firm. In addition, I am the President/Founder of the Sports PR Summit (NYC) and Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop (San Francisco) — www.sportsprsummit.com. I am also a co-founder of the media & social media training company Everything is on the Record — www.everythingisontherecord.com. I am headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Can share with us what are some of the different tasks and activities you tackle on a weekly basis?

I love working with a variety of clients and colleagues as no two days are the same. One day I may be planning the programming for one of the Sports PR Summit events, another day I may be sitting in a locker or board room conducting a media/social media training and then there are days I am working on communications strategies with my PR firm’s clients.

How did you first develop the concept for Sports PR Summit and how did it come to be?

I developed the concept for the Sports PR Summit New York City in 2013. When I worked in the NBA, I always enjoyed networking and exchanging ideas with my colleagues at the NBA League Meetings. But I yearned for interaction with executives from other leagues, brands and agencies. So out of this need, I came up with the concept for the Sports PR Summit.


We know that PR people spend a lot of time in hotels, so we make it a goal to always hold our events at unique venues — so far we’ve been to the MLB Fan Cave, Sports Illustrated, The Players’ Tribune (our current home in NYC) and Twitter (location of our recent event in San Francisco).

Our Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop in San Francisco grew out of the need to expand the conversation around social media at our New York City event. We saw the need for an entire day of discussion around social media versus a singular panel discussion, which wasn’t enough. Having our recent San Francisco event hosted at Twitter headquarters was fantastic.

Can you share more with us about the Sports PR Summit that takes place annually and now the Twitter summit?

The Sports PR Summit in New York City takes place each May and the Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop in San Francisco takes place each July.

Our invite-only events bring together senior PR and social media executives, national media members and athletes for panel discussions, featured conversations and networking. PR people, reporters and athletes have a natural distrust for each other and our event helps bring those groups together so we all have a better understanding of the other’s world. PR and social media executives all face similar challenges as well so bringing the entire sports world together for discussions helps us come up with solutions together.

We work in the communications industry, but we don’t get together face to face enough in my opinion. Once you meet someone face to face, the dynamic of the relationship changes and a closer bond is usually formed.

Anyone who attends one of our event returns as long as their schedule allows. We bring together so many bright and talented people, which makes me very proud.

The Sports PR Summit has an amazing Steering Committee and our members bought into the concept for our events from day one and they have been an important part of spreading the word about our event to colleagues in the PR industry.

What advice do you have for those looking to break into sports business and particularly the public relations profession?

The best nuggets of advise I can offer are these:

– Don’t be afraid to work hard and don’t ever expect that something will be handed to you. I started as an intern making $500 per month with the Portland Trail Blazers. I got people coffee, did grunt work and attended any meeting they’d let me sit in on. People who are hiring want hard workers and proactive thinkers.

– Writing is a vital skill. Whether it’s a press release, a social media post or an event recap, writing is a very important skill in our profession.

– Think like a journalist. When I am not wearing my PR hat, I host Sports Business Radio (www.sportsbusinessradio.com). I receive 20–30 story pitches per day from PR people who are trying to book guests on my show. If I receive a pitch that is catered specifically for me and my show, I am more likely to respond versus a pitch that has little or nothing to do with the topics we discuss on Sports Business Radio. Offer an exclusive experience for each reporter you pitch.

– Have a deep understanding of how to best tell a story and which tools work best to tell that story.

– Be an authentic networker. Don’t just reach out when you need something. Bring something to the table….even if it is volunteering at an event or delivering on a pitch. Once you’ve established a solid connection with a contact, keep in touch with that person and get together in person or via phone every so often.

– Keep your word. If you say you are going to do something, follow through and do it. You’d be surprised how many people find career success just from doing this one simple thing.

How to find me:

On Twitter: @SBRadio, @BrianBergerPR, @SportsPRSummit, @EIOTR

www.sportsprsummit.com, www.everythingisontherecord.com, www.sportsbusinessradio.com

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Public Relations

NFL and ACS Continue to Partner in the Fight Against Cancer

When it comes to cancer, the NFL and the American Cancer Society know that offense is the best defense. Now, the two are fighting for positive change.

John Collins

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Professional sports leagues leveraging their platforms to raise awareness and support various charitable causes is certainly nothing new or unfamiliar.

We’ve all seen leagues like Major League Baseball wearing pink to support breast cancer research on Mother’s Day, blue to raise awareness about prostate cancer on Father’s Day, and many more.

One league that continues to go above and beyond is the NFL, with its impactful Crucial Catch campaign. Done in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the NFL and ACS announced the initiative will be expanding this year, and among other things, will be awarding $3.2 million in new grants to community health centers around the nation to reduce disparities in access to adequate breast cancer prevention and treatment services.

Started in 2009, the Crucial Catch campaign focuses on early detection and risk reduction, as opposed to some other charitable efforts that may be more geared toward research and/or funding for proper treatment and aftercare. Those are certainly equally important, yet as the Crucial Catch website says, “when it comes to cancer, the NFL and American Cancer Society know that offense is the best defense.”  

“This year, marking our 10th of working with the NFL and it’s Crucial Catch initiative, we’ve raised over $18 million to fight cancer,” American Cancer Society Chief Development and Marketing Officer Sharon Byers said.

She is proud of additional achievements, like the 201 grants they’ve been able to award across all NFL markets; the 632,000 patients they’ve been able to reach with education and screening materials; and upwards of 138,000 cancer screenings they’ve had a hand in supporting.  

Another unique element of the partnership is that all the funds raised through Crucial Catch are directed toward the ACS Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grant for Empowerment and Equity program (CHANGE). That’s particularly important because it’s through this program that the ACS works to fight cancer in communities that might otherwise get forgotten or overlooked.

CHANGE is fighting for every life in every community, and has made it a priority to address the critical importance of health disparities and lack of adequate care for some populations,” Byers mentioned. The program uses data to target communities that have lower screening and higher mortality rates, fulfilling the ACS and NFL mission of improving healthcare equality nationwide.

This year, the Crucial Catch campaign will be awarding two-year grants to 32 community health centers — one for each NFL market. The Defender app was also added to the plethora of resources they already provide, as it is “a new tool that provides personalized tips on how to reduce your risk of cancer” and is available to everybody.

Further showcasing the work done by the ACS through its partnership with the NFL, Byers noted the Sun Safety Initiative the two worked on this summer, in which free sunscreen was given out at training camps across the nation.

NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson, for one, loved the effort, as it “expands out Crucial Catch campaign with ACS, allowing us to increase our impact in the cancer space and address issues like the link between sun exposure and skin cancer risk.”

The American Cancer Society and National Football League continue their great work together using campaigns such as these to enact meaningful change.

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Public Relations

How the 24 Foundation Effectively Lifted Its Image in the Community

Started by one Charlottean after seeing Lance Armstrong defeat cancer, the mission of the 24 Foundation is getting aid to those going through a diagnosis.

Aaron Blake

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*Centerfold is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.

Inspired by Lance Armstrong’s triumphant defeat of cancer, one Charlottean decided to take matters into his own hands by spawning the 24 Foundation. The organization now uses 24-hour, non-competitive cycling and walking events open to all levels of ability as a way to raise money for cancer navigation and survivorship.

It began when Spencer Lueders, Founder of 24 Foundation, yearned to make a difference in the cancer community. Lueders became the first person to bike the famed south Charlotte Booty Loop for 24 hours. Only three miles long through the affluent South Charlotte Myers Park neighborhood, Lueders knew his commitment would be beneficial.

In 2017, the organization underwent a rebrand through the likeness of Centerfold Agency, also located in Charlotte, N.C. The rebrand positioned 24 Foundation to be more visible among other cities across the country.

“As an organization, it was important that we ensure each city hosting an event felt ownership of it, rather than feeling like an extension of Charlotte,” said Ann Marie Smith, communications and marketing director, 24 Foundation.

Previously known as the 24 Hours of Booty, the organization’s name did not have much significance outside of Charlotte. Giving a less localized name ensured others in various communities understood its mission.

“24 Foundation has grown to include Indianapolis as well as past events in Baltimore and Atlanta,” said Smith. “Event participants fundraise, and the foundation disperses those donation dollars to our local beneficiaries in each community as well as the national beneficiary, LIVESTRONG.”

The rebrand allowed 24 Foundation to shift its focus and clarify its mission: To inspire and engage communities to make an immediate impact on the lives of those affected by cancer. Without this mission, the foundation’s cause of providing cancer navigation and survivorship to those affected would not exist.

“Commonly, 24 Hours of Booty was thought of as an event to raise money for a cure or cancer research,” said Smith. “However, the rebrand gave us an opportunity to clarify our focus on cancer navigation and survivorship rather than research.”

Now completed, the rebrand keeps the legacy of 24 Hours of Booty alive. Maintaining the foundation’s signature colors and refreshing the logo, allowed them to achieve a modern look while embarking nationally and staying true to their roots.

“One of our favorite things that Centerfold has done is to create both a centralized 24 Foundation brand look and feel,” said Smith. “As well as cleverly modifying brand elements to match each city that we’re in.”

Elements of the live events boast hand-drawn backgrounds highlighting key elements of the host city. For example, Charlotte’s social graphic background embodied the Queen’s Crown and Indianapolis’s 24 Indy, embodied checkered flags.

Smith says these designs are intentional and pose a personal connection to the host city. The local elements, along with biking and community, bring together a wholesome and impactful experience.

“Everything they have created for the new 24 Foundation look is cohesive while weaving in local elements of fun,” said Smith.

Smith sums up the rebranding and repositioning as a great opportunity to tell their story better. The story of 24 Foundation has remained the same since its inception, but with the help of the professionals and a national outreach, the work shines through.

“Our mission has always been to provide aid to those going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as support to family members affected,” said Smith. “But the rebrand gave us the platform we needed to shift from an event-focused to a more mission-focused narrative.”

*Centerfold is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.

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Public Relations

Telling The Kentucky Basketball Story

Jim Cavale, CEO of INFLCR, chats with Eric Lindsey, Associate Director of Media Relations for the University of Kentucky.

Front Office Sports

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