Brock Lesnar’s Illness a Public Relations “Miracle”
“Use absence to increase respect and honor. Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.”
At the risk of sounding like the ever-classy evangelist, Pat Robertson, I would like to suggest that Brock Lesnar’s illness was in fact, a “blessing in disguise”—at least from a public relations standpoint.
Public relations (PR) by the way, is the practice of managing the communication between an organization and its publics, which would include the fans and the media.
Frankly, I wouldn’t even be bringing this up if not for the good news of Lesnar’s improved state of health and return to the UFC after a long and painful battle with diverticulitis. Thankfully, Lesnar is going to be back in the Octagon at a potentially greater level of improved health then when we last saw him beat Frank Mir to a pulp at UFC 100.
That Was Then
During his post-match celebration at UFC 100, after defeating Frank “Mr. Sportsmanship” Mir, Lesnar flipped off the entire crowd who had been booing him for his perceived “unsportsmanlike behaviour,” which included him taunting the beaten and bloodied, Frank Mir.
Personally, I didn’t think too much of it at the time, as it just seemed like a very emotional reaction to all of Mir’s pre-fight back-stabbing and disrespectful remarks.
A powerful lesson for Frank Mir, but unfortunately, it was an even more damaging lesson for Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar then made disparaging comments about the PPV’s primary sponsor, Bud Light, claiming that they would not pay him anything, and so he promoted Coors Light instead (am I the only one who found this funny?).
Lesnar then stated that he might even “get on top of [his] wife” after the show (c’mon fight fans…now that’s funny!).
He would later apologize for his actions in his post-fight press conference, where he held a bottle of Bud Light, but the media was anxious to jump all over Lesnar (presumably greater than Brock’s promise to jump all over his wife that evening) and the hatred was born.
“What kind of champion was this?” the media and fans began to ask.
The Public Relations Effect
“I don’t think [athletes] realize a comment they make is interpreted in greater depth than the depth of thought they gave before making the comment.”—Marv Levy, former NFL Head Coach
“The power of the press can make or break an athlete’s career. For a pro athlete, a good public image translates into higher off-the-field income. You can, to a degree, control how you are perceived by the press and the public, which is the key to building a positive public image. Fans will be more tolerant and the media gentler when an athlete who is seen as likeable is dealing with a slump or controversy.”—Lora Banks, Pro Athlete Magazine Writer
Fans and media became so desperate for Lesnar’s removal as the champion that they even began to conjure up fantasy-laden scenarios about his impending defeat. Sorry fight fans, but Shane Carwin would not have beaten Brock Lesnar, despite all of your powerfully intoxicating and optimistic “wishful thinking.”
Brock stands alone as a champion, and not even the great Fedor could bring him down. This infuriated the media and fans even more because they knew deep down that there was no hope.
MMA fans were stuck with the WWE heavyweight champion—attitude and all.
This Is Now
Much to their own surprise, the fans have sincerely missed Brock Lesnar and the notion that he would no longer be able to return to MMA made everyone suddenly realize just how important Lesnar was (and still is) to the popularity, growth, and overall landscape of MMA.
From a self-serving perspective, the fans and the media all started to realize just how badly they needed Lesnar—if only to hate on him.
And how can they possibly hate on a man who nearly suffered a career-ending illness? For this reason, Lesnar will get a second chance. It’s like getting reborn in the eyes of the media.
Tiger won’t be so lucky.
”Don’t fight the media. That’s a mistake. The media doesn’t close doors. It keeps doors open.”—Brooks Robinson, Hall of Fame Baseball Player
No matter how much anyone disliked Lesnar for his behaviour and absolute dominance of the sport, they now have no choice but to sympathize with the man, and the result has unexpectedly been in the compassion and admiration that he now seems to be receiving.
For all we knew (which was nothing), Lesnar could have died.
You just can’t hate a man in that position. As fans (and media), we must be very careful not to confuse “sports” with real life.
The Future - http://bit.ly/bpuhlX