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Online Reputation Management for Professional Athletes.

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Through effective online reputation management, athletes and celebrities can achieve their full career and earnings potential, extend their career lifetime and maximize the value they provide to their sport and their fans.

So, why exactly do athletes need effective online reputation management?

Athletes face a growing number of risk factors in their online interactions.

Steven Woodgate is a public relations professional with a strong career focus on sports journalism and the influence of social media on athletes’ reputations. His research has provided some crucial insight into how athletes perceive social platforms and the way they use them to develop their careers.

One of Woodgate’s key findings during a study of 200 athletes was that generally, athletes have a very low understanding of the dangers of a poor online reputation. Nearly two thirds of athletes post messages online regarding their team or club, without a full understanding of the legal risks involved.

Nearly 85% of athletes personally use their own branded Twitter accounts. While a great way of creating genuine engagement with fans, this kind of unfiltered activity can be fraught with risks, particularly when an individual is confronted with the runaway chain of digital content (whether a tweet, image or video) going viral.

The good news is that around 85% of athletes understand that their own reputation has an impact on the reputation of their sport, team or club. However, this doesn’t translate to effectively managing the risk of damaging that reputation.

The internet never forgets.

Go and read the comments on a news story about Lance Armstrong. While his downfall was far more explosive and widely publicized than most, it still represents a stark reminder that the internet never, ever forgets a mistake in an athlete’s career.

Lance’s actions were obviously far more insidious and ongoing than simply going on a Twitter rant, however, they still illustrate the extreme difficulty that even the wealthiest athletes face in attempting to clean up a poor online reputation.

Rather than mopping up the mess after it’s occurred, it is definitely in athletes’ favour to ensure they avoid scandals and digital gaffes to begin with. This is where online reputation management comes into play. With professional advice and guidance, it’s possible to avoid these issues altogether and leverage social media and digital publications to develop an improved reputation.

Sporting organisations are increasingly concerned about athletes’ activities online.

Many major sporting organisations, from local to international levels, are taking significant steps to protect themselves from the actions of athletes and ensure that athletes are restricted from causing significant damage online.

The AFL, for example, has adopted a National Social Media Engagement Policy, aimed at providing players and other members of the AFL with guidance in regard to how they conduct themselves online. This policy is far-reaching, covering an array of social media and digital platforms from Wikipedia to YouTube.

Interestingly, the social media policies of many major sporting organisations also recognize the immensely positive effects of engaging with fans and other stakeholders via social media. The policies are not aimed at restricting the actions of athletes, but rather guiding them in a productive manner.

As sporting organisations become more adept at developing and enforcing these policies, it will become more important for athletes to be aware of their importance and how to stay within the rules when participating in social media activities.

Athletes have the same failings as the rest of us – that’s why we’re here to help.

Athletes are people too. They face the same challenges as the rest of us when participating in the new digital world. However, when mistakes are made, the consequences for athletes and other celebrity figures are far greater than those that the majority of us face.

Fines, irrevocable reputation damage and even job loss are among the major consequences for athletes who fail to effectively manage their online reputation. Sure, not every mistake will be career ruining. However, minor instances one after another can quickly add up to a negative public perception.

Social media can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for developing a positive online reputation. Used correctly, with professional guidance, an athlete can greatly increase their earning potential by improving their public perception via a well-managed online reputation.

Get in contact with us to chat about your options and how we can help you take the next step in getting yourself out there in a positive manner. We’ve got the skills and experience to help you take your digital reputation to the next level.



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