Who doesn’t dream of having thousands of followers on Twitter or Instagram? You have a platform to speak on and an audience that is listening. These followers are great for you, if it’s your account, but it can be a nightmare for any public relations professional.
Athletes all around the world, in college and professional leagues, are in this situation. When political events are happening, life is stressful, or something goes unplanned, instead of screaming in a pillow they reach for their phone and send out a tweet. No big deal though – right?
Public relations professionals are responsible for keeping the image of the team clean, as well as making sure athletes are being professional on social media. There is some controversy about leagues being able to control players social media accounts, but ultimately the athlete’s name is associated with the team, so their morals reflect on the team and league as a whole.
In an age where social media plays a key role in any public relation professionals life, where do you draw the line between keeping a crisis from happening and letting the athlete express their personality and views? There is no answer for that.
I think that public relations professionals, for college athletics and professional leagues, have a right to monitor a player’s social media accounts and call them out when their behavior starts to become erratic. Players and coaches should strive to use their public platforms for good, and should treat themselves, and the leagues that have helped shape who they are today, with respect. Getting in an online argument with someone who has 10 followers, but follows 800 is a good sign that the user is only there to troll.
For college sports, when a university decides to give an athlete a full-ride scholarship or accepts the athlete onto the team there is an expectation that is set to represent the school in the best way possible. The university takes a chance on you. To avoid an online crisis and the player potentially becoming a part of a firestorm, the public relations team is there to strategically avoid any problems.
Everyone, athletes especially, should strive to express their best selves on any social media platform.