Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a blog. So does Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, but he only started his blog just before he suffered a devastating knee injury in the playoffs, poor guy, and he’s not in the Super Bowl. Roethlisberger, on the other hand, is blogging from the Super Bowl and that’s why this new phenomenon of pro athletes blogging is the very tip of a huge new trend in sports marketing. Roethlisberger’s posts will do more than anything to promote the idea among his peers.
This development, however, is quite natural. Roethlisberger, after all, is the leading edge of the MySpace generation of athletes. As of today, he’s been blogging for a year and one day.
As Roethlisberger and Palmer have no doubt realized, a blog is a superb tool to maintain an intimate relationship with your fans and that can only help their career by maintaining their brand (themselves) and, through that intimate relationship with their fans, extending the athlete’s marketability and marketing power.
The intimacy comes from the fact that the voice of a blog is that of it’s author and it is first person; the fan, when reading the blog, hears the athlete speaking directly to him or her. Odd though it may sound, a personal relationship is developed. If you need any further proof of this phenomenon, just read a few of the numerous comments posted by readers of Roethlisberger’s blog.
Read a few of Roethlisberger’s posts and it will soon become clear that the blog is not only a fantastic fan-relationship tool, it’s also an excellent marketing vehicle: He endears himself to pro wrestling fans by posting pictures of himself at a WWE match; he reminds readers that they can buy his BBQ sauce and beef jerky from his site.
Pro athletes can use their blogs to promote their products, let fans know where they’ll be making public promotional appearances, and promote their own sponsorship deals, like what new commercials they’ll be in, or even giving fans a backstage glimpse of the making of their commercials. This has obvious appeal to potential sponsors.
Plenty of athletes have web sites. Barry Bonds even uses his as a quasi-blog, offering updates in his own voice. But these are largely purely promotional platforms, absent the intimacy of a blog.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson have blogs but the operative word here is former. Their blogs serve them in their post-professional careers. And this, too, is another reason more and more pro athletes will become bloggers: Maintaining that relationship with their fans after their careers can help pocketbook, especially if they aren’t the elites of their profession but have local marketing cache.
This is one trend to watch, especially if your business markets to athletes, sports fans, teens, or if your business relies in any way on a specific personality or celebrity.