J.J. Watt is a defensive end for the NFL and previously played for the University of Wisconsin. His stats seem relatively mediocre to me although he has won the 2012 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year award. Until recently if someone had mentioned his name in conversation with me I would have had no idea who this man is. It was a few weeks ago that an article that gained him notoriety for something unrelated to football popped up on msn.com. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have bothered with a sports article but when I read the word “Proposal” I couldn’t resist. I’m so glad I did because it was a good example of Public Relations and applicable to what we have learned in class.
Breanna, a 6 yr old little girl whose video of her crying because she couldn’t marry J.J. Watts went viral earlier this month got to live her dream when the football star caught wind of her heartbreak. Through social media, Twitter more specifically, Watt was able to reach out and locate the fan and her family. Watt set up a tour of the Houston Texans Reliant Stadium and when she arrived he met her with a ring pop (any girl would be honored), a bouquet of flowers (rightfully so), and a white version of his jersey to wear as her wedding gown. He proposed that she be his wife for the day and spent the day with her and her family holding, her hand he whole time.
Watt’s actions here appeal to the emotional appeal and even self interest appeal (intentionally or not) of Public Relations. What person with a soul doesn’t love a pro athlete that takes time to spend a day with a 6 year old fan? In reading up on the subject some people have made it sound like this could have been just a huge publicity stunt. But looking at page 104, chapter 5 of our book it would be hard to have hit all 8 steps of a public relations plan. Watt may have had a small audience and the accessibility of the football stadium as his facility but he certainly didn’t have to go out of his way to get the little girl all of her wedding presents and set up a tour for her and her mother. I think that anyone would agree that this sets Watt up for a positive image in society as a professional athlete. This image helps to provide a more positive image for athletes overall and maybe help lessen the effects of athletes like Michael Vick and OJ Simpson with negative reputations.
In looking at his actions I also feel that this was an affective way for Watt to reach the people who may not be football fans, like myself. I am just learning about football but I dont know any players by name, with the exception of Tim Tebow, also for an unrelated topic to football. I know Tebow because of his vow to celibacy and the famous Tebow stance. Whether this was something done specifically for publicity or whether it was something that was a genuine attempt at making a little girl’s dream come true, the outcome is the same. It reaches the football fans and non football fans alike and gets people talking positively about the star. Bravo to J.J. Watt for being a little girl’s hero, temporary husband and seemingly stand-up guy. He seems to have a brilliant approach to self image and public relations.