The Deron Williams legacy will not be solely dictated by the regular media as the Brooklyn Nets star hopes to capitalize on his brand by providing his own measures of control via owned digital properties.
The proliferation of social media in sports, from the players to reporters who were once bound to editorial desks, has allowed a new wave of journalism to flourish. For good and bad, one no longer has to rely exclusively on credentials to obtain the latest story coming out of the sporting world. News can be broken by anyone with a smartphone or anyone with access to the web, and the ensuing story could be found documented on your local newspaper or any given sports blog regardless of size.
It’s no wonder, then, that certain NBA players with an eye toward marketing and branding have turned to consulting firms to try and get some ownership of their own story in the digital and/or social space.
Deron Williams even has his own team of beat reporters, with credentialed media access to home games, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Their mission? Spread the gospel of D-Will on his website, DeronWilliams.com.
The proliferation of social media, as well as sports blogs, has had a seismic effect on brand perception as it relates to players’ character, morals, and story—sports is no longer just about the box score and the individual stats. For better or worse, the heightened levels of exposure allotted to today’s superstars have created a double-edged sword of fame and unreasonable expectations.
With higher visibility comes the potential of lucrative endorsements, especially for the better known superstars like Deron Williams. Being able to contribute your own angle via content marketing on owned media properties like deronwilliams.com gives one a foot in the door over how the story is phrased in the commercial space.
DeronWilliams.com is cutting edge. Operated by a company called Athlete Interactive, the site has Williams-centric game stories, Williams-centric features and Williams-centric photo galleries. The site’s editors shoehorn “Williams” or “D-Will” into roughly 90% of their headlines, which, to be fair, is sort of the point.
Today’s NBA superstars are more than just basketball players, at least the smart ones. They seek out entrepreneurial opportunities even before they reach professional ranks. Leaving one’s presence to one’s own devices could result in catastrophe as we have noted time and again on Twitter. PR nightmares that tarnish the brand and the potential for dollars.
It’s only natural that players like Deron Williams would turn to professionals for aid in how to best represent themselves in the public space. The Twittersphere may demand organic conversation from the player, but in the end such interaction doesn’t necessarily translate into bigger dividends (the end-all for today’s stars). Just ask Kobe Bryant who doesn’t have a Twitter account, but does keep in touch with his fans via his Facebook page which is seemingly controlled, analyzed and filtered by someone other than the Black Mamba.
Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant are paving the way for future entrepreneurs with the ability to ball on the court by providing a model of professionalism where only emotional reaction existed.