IF ONLY! These are two words you do not want catching up with you, and catch up they will. That is: If you willingly and gladly present lies to the public through the media. I work in the world of Public Relations, and that is where I have encountered through 16 years in this business, some of the most monumental false claims from my competitors. Lies which not only make me laugh aloud, but which prove conclusively that honesty is the only goal in interfacing with the public and the media. These Claims Never Fail to confirm my belief in honesty in PR, and prove me right in passing that insight onto business people and creative artists, and all of those who become my clients.
That is: Mom was right! Always Tell The Truth and that way you can sit most comfortably at your computer, without permanent bite marks adorning your fanny. Such is a wonderful case whose exhibits are on very public display right now. And that is the case of The Los Angeles Lakers Organization and their willing mouthpiece chumps within media, succumbing to the lather of hype dispensed by that organization with the acquisition of two over-priced stiffs, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Both added to a roster studded with the most over-priced stiff in basketball history: Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant, a one-dimensional scorer, accorded by referees with the right to walk with the basketball whenever and wherever, and accorded by his organization with the right to participate in a one-on-five game, in which he gets to shoot the ball whenever and wherever, not for the good of the team, but for his personal statistics. Now that I have told the truth about Kobe the Great, and have your attention, please Read On!
Last night was a fine case in point. Dwight Howard’s ex-team came to the Lakers home-court, fully inculcated with the press releases about this awesome machine The Lakers, then immediately dismantled that machine in front of stunned fans victimized by their own hype and incredulous that the Orlando Magic did NOT roll over and expire in the presence of The Great.
Oh well. If only. If only the Lakers had put out an honest press release: We have acquired Steve Nash, who is old and creaking, and whose good years were spent giving the ball to under-rated players such as Amare Soudamire (considered a non-man in the league because he has been wracked by injuries) . The press release could’ve stated that even on his best days, Steve Nash is not that big a deal, because even in his prime, anyone in the league could score 37 points on him. The press release could’ve stated how Dwight Howard is another Kobe Bryant Chucklehead , who has never been liked by his teammates (a Kobe key) , and who laughs and smiles and clowns every time he misses 12 free throws a game (nice attitude for $25 Million a year). Then the press release could’ve stated that : Bill Russell is the Only Gentleman in League History to win 11 Championships and now that the game is boiled down to a non-team sport but Cult of Personality, we in these basketball organizations like to PRETEND that Michael Jordan won the most Championships at Six. Yes, Six is the number that “our selfish, in-it-for-myself” Shooter Kobe Bryant must have, because we say most assuredly that no-one reads history and Six is The Best, and Highest Number, not Eleven! Six is the New Eleven, and Bill Russell never existed! Please read the idiot Bill Simmons at ESPN.COM, from which most of this b.s. flows from.
Then the press release could’ve explained that Kobe Bryant has never learned to pass the basketball or learned how to rotate on defense, and that if one of the other guards is injured, it would be pretty stupid to have the ball in Kobe’s hands as though he is a competent ball-handler or point guard. Because, for ALL his points, Kobe indeed has a wonderful side statistic: the most games with 0 assists among any of the 100 players who are considered the best in basketball history! And he bloody well had Shaq on the same team for 8 years. Wow! Then add Metta World War, and you have yet another volatile chucklehead beloved by this organization and the media chumps, who doesn’t have coach Phil Jackson to give him the greenlight to clothesline and injure other ball-players with cheap shots, so now he is just another cumbersome entity running up and down the floor pursuing his bogus statistics.
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But lie the Lakers did and people are wondering “Gee, how come an outright lie did not come true?” How come, duh, teams playing as teams, can beat a gaggle of preening, selfish poster-boys, who stand around smiling about their salaries?
Let me simply put this whole matter of lies into perspective! I worked, not too long ago, with an Energy Drink Company called UpShot! You might remember it! The product actually did what it said it did: provided long lasting energy without a negative crash effect, due to its nice herbal infusion. I liked the product because it was created by a true wunderkind of his industry: The man who had created all of the Odwalla Juices, and took the most pride in the Vitamin C Monster beverage that he had created for them. He was at that time concerned with producing the best energy drink without putting sugars and sweeteners into it: just an essential, decent energy potion that was comprised of only healthful ingredients.
Well, one downside, people within the company would tell me, “It tastes like S…t! ” Hmmm, I said. And then realized, So What! This drink has great word of mouth, but not great taste of mouth. This drink does what it says, and there is a gathering mountain of testimonials from First Repsonders, Truck Drivers, Doctors and Nurses, that it is perfect for the energy sustain that they were looking for! I told the excellent in-house PR guy they had, Richard Lohrey, “Let’s go with the truth and let it be the interesting story about the product. It tastes really lousy because of all the good ingredients and lack of bad stuff, and It WORKS for people! ”
Thanks to the greenlight from Richard who GOT the implicit Fun Aspect of telling the Truth that the product tastes bad but accomplishes the energy level goals that it purports to, I began telling the media, much to the consternation of some on the board of UpShot, that there is a new COOL, LOUSY-TASTING product on the market and go get it!
Well, I put Uphot into The X Games as their official beverage that year, and I also got UpShot one of the most interesting segments on Fox News Los Angeles, that was repeated endlessly nationally, about the lousy-tasting drink that outdistances the other sugarized, chemicalized energy-drinks out there. It was a delightful run, and full confirmation that honesty outstrips bland, stupid hype. Richard and I refused to characterize the product as delicious because it wasn’t, and this UpShot campaign became a favorite of ALL of the beverage industry’s magazines as well, because of the novelty and embraceable honesty of the campaign. UpShot did so well, that the hierarchy of the brand made a ton of money and within a year-and-a-half that I worked on the project, became successful enough with the results I had attained, that they did what everyone in LA does: sued each other and went out of business. So in this campaign, I made them successful enough for them to reveal their true natures to each other.
That is why, when all is said and done, an honest press release within The Lakers Organization could’ve revealed the team’s true nature to the public and their true natures to each other, and a TEAM could’ve coalesced around the reality of the situation: That they are a team which does not want to work; but which prefers to acquire, as in the tradition set by Baseball, a bunch of non-team stiffs with Big Names, who want the other teams to roll over and drool because of the Hype, Hype, Hype! If their press releases before the season began, had told the truth, the team would’ve made the public aware of what the reality was, and that names, names, names do not matter in a team sport, and would’ve provided an incentive for the players to work together. Instead what was vile-tasting was disguised in a flurry of hype as what is delicious!
Deal only in Honesty and not Hype, and you will never be going around saying, “Gee, I am so disappointed”. It is too late for the Lakers but not too late for intelligent business people!