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Image Management for Professional Athletes

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by Staff Writer

Professional atheletes must, by necessity, learn reputation management skills. It's often said that an actor is only as successful as their last movie, but for athletes, they're only as popular as how well they did on their last game. A cold streak can put millions in endorsements at stake, and it's easy for online controversy to exacerbate the problem. An athlete's reputation, and finances, is tied so closely to both their career choices and behavior off the field that reputation management is a necessity.

Nowhere is this more important than on the Internet; in fact, sometimes an athlete's online reputation can smooth over troubles on the field. Here's what athletes need to know about how to keep their fans happy, especially online.

First of all, any athlete should be aware that there's no pleasing some people. Some fans are simply just not going to like you, no matter what you do; this is especially true of athletes replacing a beloved member of the team, or dealing with a personal controversy. It's better not to confront angry fans over social media, or in person, for that matter. Consider it all part of the game.

Secondly, it's important to have an official social media presence, but it's best to have that presence carefully monitored, and to limit what's said, as a part of reputation management. Sports cut across such a wide range of political beliefs and personal opinions that it can be all but impossible for an athlete to offer even the most innocuous opinion without offending someone, and possibly spinning out into a controversy that can ding even a beloved athlete's reputation. The best policy to have is the golden rule: If you don't have anything nice to say, it's better not to say anything at all.

Next, look into, and take seriously, opportunities to reach out to both fans and their families and friends. The difference between a great player known by fans of the team and a great player who is a well-known brand is that the latter takes the opportunities given to put themselves out there in front of people who may never watch a game. Not everybody is a fan of the Chicago Bulls, for example, but everybody knows the name Michael Jordan. That's because Jordan took the time to put himself out there, to the point where his celebrity has eclipsed his basketball career.

Finally, be careful who you trust with your contact information. Athletes are as prone to being hacked as other celebrities, especially if they're suddenly in the spotlight. If people want to know about you, they're willing to play dirty to know about you, so be careful who has your personal phone and email address. Often maintaining your privacy is key to protecting your online reputation.

If you're an athlete looking for help with reputation management, consider ReputationDefender. We understand the unique challenges that come with maintaining a personal brand, and can help athletes handle reputation problems as they appear online or even stop them before they become problems. Keep your head in the game with help from ReputationDefender