November 1, 2017 / By Ronald Socash
The following is a guest blog post written by a Columbia University Sports Management student who recently visited Taylor’s NY Office:
At the Columbia Sports Management Program, Sports Communication and Public Relations is one of the first core classes a student can take. On Thursday, October 23, our class got a special treat: A trip to the Empire State Building.
Our purpose was to meet Bryan Harris, the Chief Operating Officer of Taylor, and to learn how one of the biggest sports-centric public relations firms has stayed ahead of the curve for the past 30-plus years. While not a Columbia grad, we were proud to welcome him and learn from him, given he is a Penn alum and was sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian back in his college days!
As we got to the Empire State Building, our experience began: entering the elevator, heading toward our destination upstairs, the marble walls and elegant feel really made the “Empire State” experience feel real. We were then shepherded into a bright room with plenty of colors and an incredible view of the city. The offices at Taylor really felt like an excellent place to let the creative juices flow. Once we got settled in, our host arrived: Bryan Harris has been with Taylor for almost 30 years and looked to impart a bit of wisdom on our group of about 30 prospective sports professionals.
Mr. Harris first talked about how Taylor separated itself years ago, and how it continues to do so today. Taylor used to have roughly 70 clients but began the process of paring it down to 15 after the new management team took over in 2004. The idea of quality over quantity took precedence and was our first lesson of the afternoon.
The next topic that to came up frequently was social media. Every large company uses social media to push their message into the minds of the general public quickly and effectively. Taylor not only keeps up with social media, but they also use it as a way to get ahead. Mr. Harris then discussed the specific skills a potential candidate should have if they’re looking to work for a company like Taylor.
He mentioned social media, writing ability, speaking ability, and a few others. Besides that, one specific example really stuck out. “If you have the ability to speak on camera, and then turn around and edit that content, you’re golden,” he said. That mix between technical and non-technical skills separates candidates from the rest.
Mr. Harris then showed us a video about how Taylor helped Tide steal the proverbial Super Bowl ad show. Tide, a popular laundry detergent brand, partnered with Taylor to execute a digital plan to make the best use of their Super Bowl exposure opportunity. The video started off by showing Terry Bradshaw, a former star NFL quarterback and FOX football analyst, sporting a stain on his shirt while on-air during Super Bowl coverage. Along with Bradshaw, Taylor secured partnerships with social media influencers ready to tweet at the appropriate time. Once Bradshaw’s stain appeared on the FOX broadcast for the world to see, Twitter became ablaze with talk about his sloppy look.
Leading the charge on Twitter was Taylor’s influencer network, who were driving traffic and attention directly to the stain. As the Twitter storm raged on throughout the game, a Tide commercial near the end of the broadcast let viewers know the “Stain-gate” was a set-up. The Tide commercial showed Bradshaw, stain and all, using a Tide product to clean up his blotch. As a result, Twitter blew up again. This time, the majority of the population had applauded Tide’s crafty use of the stain as a way to market their product. Mr. Harris showed us how a laundry detergent brand was able to make itself relevant during an event primarily focused on sports.
Overall, the trip was a terrific introduction into high-level communications strategy and business. We learned about the in-depth process that comes with crafting and honing a specific message. Many people think that this may come naturally to some, but we learned just how specific and targeted each message and campaign has to be to succeed. Additionally, I never realized how seriously major brands and companies also take social media. No longer is Twitter just a place for jokes or celebrity opinions. Taylor takes the power of social media very seriously and uses it to their client’s advantage. We left our trip to Taylor with a new understanding and appreciation for strategic communications. The Empire State scenery also wasn’t a bad touch.