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Share your view on Paris Hilton on SBS' message board at: The Paris Hilton Sports Marketing Forum

The Marketing of Paris Hilton - A Lesson For Sports Marketing by Zennie Abraham

...Or how an unknown athlete can become a local Paris Hilton.

The connection between Paris Hilton and sports is closer than you may think.

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Paris Hilton is an international superstar. And what did Paris Hilton do? Well, nothing. "I came to New York when I was 16 years old, and I got invited to all of these parties all the time." Indeed, this was the case. Think about it for a second..or a minute. Paris Hilton is not an actress. She's not a politician. She's not an athlete. She's a young, attractive heiress with a yen for partying. And she did this in the media capital of World.

But even more, Paris made herself available to the people she met "out-and-about." Stars, agents, photographers, and anyone who was someone--and that was just about most of the people -- at an A-List party.

Then, just as Paris was planning to launch a TV show that has since become one of the most popular in America, the infamous "sex tape" video was released and became perhaps the most sought after amateur product on the Internet. Instead of reducing Paris' star status, it increased it dramatically. Now (and aided by the steamy Carl's Jr. commericial) Paris Hilton's name is the most looked up online according to the Lycos 50, which tracks the most popular keywords looked up. As of this writing -- June 13, 2005 -- It's currently ranked number one. It's been on the list for 82 weeks. Think about that. There are 52 weeks in a year. Double that is 104 weeks. That means Paris Hilton has been on the Lycos 50 Elite for almost two years. That's longer than all but a few established stars.

Paris' status as a celebrity is unquestioned. But the question is, what can a sports marketing specialist learn from this? The answer is everything.

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First, sports marketing professionals work with athletes or events that feature athletes. Thus, the athletes, like Paris Hilton, are celebrities, regardless of the level of celebrity. A savvy sports marketing pro can do several things to "up" the media profile of their clients. And remember, that's the measurable objective: content.

First, the sports marketing pro should start her process by going a search-engine-based analysis of the number of times their clients name comes up in a search. Now, if the athlete's name is "Kevin Johnson" there's a lot of competition. The sports marketing pro will have to sift through the 188,000 results for the name "Kevin Johnson." The sports marketing pro should look for the number of times their client comes up, and if there is a question about an article, they should ask.

If the client's "Kevin Johnson" comes up zero, there's where you start: a zero content rating.

The next step is to get your client noticed. You don't really need an expensive publicist to do this. Remember, you're objective is to get your client off the "zero" content rating. The best first step that will gain immediate results is an online press release.

Online organizations like PRweb.com (Tell your company story to thousands!) will allow you to write and publish press releases online for free. In all, there are four different organizations that offer "free press release" services. It takes three days for the service to read and publish the press release, unless you pay upfront. Even then, the base charge is $30, but one can spend as much as $800. Let's stick with "free" for now.

What should the press release say? Depends on the client and what they're doing.

Let's say Kevin Johnson is a track star in an upcoming event. Well, really, he's a college star. Ok. He's a junior college star. Fine. We write the press release to introduce Kevin Johnson and explain that he's going to be in the upcoming meet. If he's got a past record at track meets, put that in the press release. Also give him a personality and mention where he's from and what he likes to do, from his college major to favorite music. Then issue the press release.

Don't stop there. Send a copy to the local journalist who covers the college sports scene. Then make a follow up phone call. But while you're at it, read the magazines that cover the "city social scene" to learn where to "place" your client. Then call the magazine editors and writers to find out when and where the next parties are. Work your clients schedule to make sure they're there. But don't stop there.

Does your client have a web presence? In other words, do they have a website? If so, great. Is it properly optimized? What's that? Well, is it designed so that search engines can quickly pick it up and place it for high search page rank? If so, great, that's a large step. It also means the client's content rating is higher than zero.

But if you have a website for your client and each title page just has "Kevin Johnson" that's not good. Do some research on good page titles for each page. But make sure the titles vary, and match the content of each page of the site. Oh. If you've not figured it out by now, a good substantial website has more than one page-- make sure to have four to ten pages with text content about your client. Like what? Well, here's some suggested subject headings: biography, athletic record, hobbies, diary, news, contact, resume, press releases, and photo gallery. That's nine pages, not including the home--or "index" -- page. So, we have a ten-page site.

But don't stop there. Does Mr. Kevin Johnson have business cards? Great! Ah..Do the cards have the website address? No? You have to add that. There are a number of web-based services that permit you to have up to 250 business cards made for free, all you do is pay for the shipping cost.

So, let's stop and think about what we've done. Your client's about to compete in a local track event. But they've got a website, business cards, press releases, contact with the press via phone call, and appearances at local parties. All of this is the basis for a potential explosion in their status as a public figure. If Kevin Johnson wins the meet, the publicity from that event will help people recoginize where they saw "that name and face" around town. Now, your clients "publicity pump" has been primed.

Review your search engine records after two months. Your client will be well off the "zero content" starting point. Now, you can contact small sports product producers and work deals: affiliate marketing relationships where your client hosts their product and makes a percentage of what's sold through his site, in effect, backing that product. Or working sponsorship deals where the client can -- if not wear the product logo -- then feature it on his website.

What? The NCAA prohibits such athlete sites? No problem. The NCAA does not ban "media" sites. So just design your client's site so that it's named "College Sports Track News Featuring Kevin Johnson." Then bring in some of Johnson's track friends and have him interview them and display their track records. Now, Mr. Johnson has a media site; he's reporting the news --- something the NCAA protects (just look at ESPN).

By now, you've got enough information to establish your client as a local Paris Hilton. Note that I didn't mention videos or sex tapes, but this does bring up the matter of the female bodybuilder...cont'd.

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