Most PR professionals would probably agree that the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” is grossly misstated. However, in rare moments, such as last weekend’s post-game tirade by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, this theory gets turned on its head.
After Sherman made a game-winning play to clinch Seattle’s spot in the Super Bowl, he told FOX Sports that he’s the “best corner in the game,” nearly foaming at the mouth, and called 49ers Michael Crabtree, “a sorry receiver.”
Within seconds, social media exploded with disdain for Sherman’s boorish behavior.
I was astounded and horrified by the amount of vitriol and racial epithets that surfaced following the controversial interview because, after all, isn’t this what audiences crave? Most sports commentators spend their entire career chasing after this kind of elusive sound bite and Erin Andrews was lucky enough to have captured Sherman going bananas on live television. (Full disclosure: I’m a Seattle native and a Seahawks fan.)
Andrews wasn’t frightened or threatened by Sherman, as some have insinuated; in fact, she “loved it!” In a matter of 15 seconds, Sherman went from being relatively unknown outside the football world, to the most talked about player in the NFL.
So go ahead, call him a “thug” or an “idiot,” but he’s far from it. In fact, Sherman graduated second in his high school class with a 3.9 GPA and received a B.A. in Communications from Stanford University.
Sherman should teach a course on public relations because it looks like he’s mastered the craft. Since the infamous interview, his Twitter followers have nearly doubled and his agent said the phone is ringing off the hook with endorsements for upwards of $5 million.
Not too shabby for a guy who makes a measly $550,000, a relative pittance compared to other players. Sherman is quite the opposite of an idiot. He merely seized on an opportunity to promote himself and it’s paying off, in a big way.
So while Sherman will certainly still have his detractors, he understands that controversy sells, and isn’t success the best revenge?
By Chloe Etsekson, Senior Account Executive at Dukas Public Relations