PR Nightmares (?): The Curious Case of Sean Salisbury

September 25, 2009

Is Sean Salisbury crazy, or crazy like a fox?

The answer could lie in a question many of you might be asking right now: “Who the heck is Sean Salisbury?”

Salisbury was a middling pro quarterback who logged 10 largely forgotten years in the NFL and CFL from 1987 to 1996. Subsequently, he became a middling in-studio football analyst for ESPN, building a largely forgotten broadcasting career at the network that came to an abrupt halt in 2008. Although Salisbury claimed the decision to leave was his because he felt he wasn’t being paid his due, rumors flew that one of the reasons that led to his departure was a suspension for showing a cell-phone picture of his most private of areas to several women. Salisbury denies, and continues to deny, that allegation, but the blogosphere, which has followed this story as if it were the Watergate tapes, is not inclined to believe him.

Salisbury bounced around after leaving his ESPN, turning up on a Dallas radio station, where he was recently fired for what some suspect was more alleged shady behavior. Salisbury again claimed innocence.

Sean_Salisbury_200x200Now Salisbury is on the legal attack. But although he claims to have hired a high-powered lawyer and a high-powered PR firm to help him take down his enemies and restore his tattered reputation (while he claims to be writing a book that will reveal secrets that will take several ESPN personalities down, which would seem to open him up to charges of contradiction), you have to wonder about what is really going on.

The question is, what high-powered lawyer or PR firm would ever allow a client to send a flood of barely literate, threatening and ultimately incredibly loopy iPhone messages to prominent sports blog Deadspin, which has breathlessly and snarkily reported Salisbury’s strange career arc for years now?

Here’s the thing: Salisbury knew Deadspin would post his messages. In fact, as you can see in his correspondence, he practically goads them to do so. So is this an incredibly disturbed individual, or is this really a viral marketing campaign for Sean Salisbury 2.0, the fantastically unhinged sports broadcasting personality? Is Sean Salisbury on a campaign to become the Glenn Beck of sports?

Is this a PR nightmare or PR genius? Only time (and presumably much more poor grammar, spelling and sentence structure) will tell.

We’ll have a good idea if he’s ever pitching iPhones.

Posted by Joe Paone

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ESPN.com, Worldwide Leader in Homepage Clutter

April 29, 2009

Interesting rant on a CriticalMass.com subsite called ExperienceMatters.com lamenting the ubiquitous sports network’s underpopulation of headlines on their home page in favor of flashing banner ads for mortgaging a home or summering in Europe.

As a diehard sports fan in need of instant gratification, I see author Scott Shamberg’s point in his post entitled, “The Bastardization of the Customer Experience.”

As loyal ESPN.com user, I’m pissed. They have continually bastardized their site in an effort to make more room for ads and thus drive more ad sales. I keep coming back because even because the content they have is second to none. This last move, however, is a tough pill to swallow….For today’s consumer, nothing is more important than the experience.  Regardless of where it happens, they have to really enjoy how they get their information and entertainment because if they don’t there are hundreds, literally, of other places they can get it… The point here is that I know ESPN wants to drive ad revenue and I understand and appreciate that.  But if they continue to make decisions based on ad revenue and not the customer, eventually it won’t matter.”

Mr. Samberg is right on about the experience factor and the fact that you can go to other sports sites and easily navigate without all the clutter.  Even though ESPN has the added clout of being a global entertainment and publishing entity, they are not impervious to the laments of social media influencers and non-traditional media, so they better watch their Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back or they might be Goooooone!. (Impossible)

 And since we are on the topic, my biggest issue with ESPN is the fact that they constantly take credit for stories that were broken elsewhere (ususally online) by simply saying, “ESPN has learned,” or presenting some story on Sportscenter I read on the internet yesterday as “BREAKING NEWS.”

If they get a tip from some other non-traditional outlet, they should still be giving credit and then doing some additional investigative digging with the unmatched resources they have to form the “exclusive.” Don’t re-hash something stale and call it your own just because all those other worldwide sports networks haven’t broken the story yet.

Clearly a boycott would be punishing ME more than the network so that’s not an option but I hope the feedback reaches their higher-ups and order is restored.  Now, I wonder where I would go to find out what astute analyst Tim Legler thinks of the Rajon Rondo foul on Brad Miller from last night’s playoff game.

Posted by: Nick