It isn’t just the Pac-12 referees who have an image problem. The conference believes its brand does, too.
The Pac-12 has hired a top-tier public relations and crisis management agency, according to The Oregonian.
“Its mission? Fixing the conference’s broken brand,” sports columnist John Canzano wrote. “The repair is necessary, but what the conference members need most to compete is additional revenue. The brand isn’t broken because of public perception. It’s busted because of results.”
Andrew Walker, the Pac-12’s head of communications, confirmed to The Oregonian that FleishmanHillard was retained. The agency has helped clients such as Levi’s, Chevrolet, JPMorgan Chase, Crocs, Alibaba Group and USA Gymnastics. Walker told Canzano the agency was hired “to provide a review of our overall communication strategy as part of a collaborative process with our members.”
Not only has the conference been embroiled in controversies over refereeing, including a well-publicized instant-replay officiating scandal, but the league has been left out of the College Football Playoff in three of the past five seasons. The Pac-12 only went 3-4 in bowls this season, went winless in the NCAA Tournament last spring and doesn’t have a Top 25 team in men’s basketball.
There’s also people who are upset about the Pac-12 Network’s reach and costs.
The Oregonian outlined some PR strategies given to the Pac-12 from the PR agency:
- “Conduct in-depth analysis of the influencer landscape to identify neutral to positive voices and systematically build relationships with these influencers to shift the conversation.”
- “Expand upon media partnerships with The Players’ Tribune and Los Angeles Times and identify new national partner(s) to increase national and regional coverage.”
- “Enlist one of comedy’s great ‘coaches’ or ‘fans’ to star in a digital series that addresses the challenges of last-minute schedule and late games in a way that honors the true commitment of the Pac-12 fan.”
FoxSports Radio's Clay Travis certainly believes the Pac-12 has a football problem.
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