I'm not much of a sports fan (even though I was a cheerleader in high school), so when my good friend Peter Miller  alerted me to the successful brand management of Chad Johnson Ochocinco, the wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, I had to look into it.
Sure enough, Peter is right about Mr. Ochocinco (who, by the way, changed his name to match his number, another brand coup).
This athlete has done a number of things that have enhanced his image and reputation in the eyes of his fans and the public. This is especially important during the current NFL labor dispute and lockout.
- He's quite the end zone dancer, which the League and owners frown on, but fans absolutely love and that's whom Ochocinco's out to please.
- Speaking of owners, there is some tension between him and them, but you never hear Mr. Ochocinco go after them or badmouth them. He has remained respectful and not let whatever private irritations he may have become public.
- He has over 2 million Twitter followers (@ochocinco) because he gives good info and knows it's a great way to connect with fans. One tweet concerned setting a budget and living on less. With his years in the league, I assume he's amassed some wealth. But he knows other players aren't so lucky, and he's encouraging good behavior and helping them get through the dispute without going broke. It's shows heart. It's also an act of leadership.
Now, he uses language that's a bit too salty for my public tastes (and I am a true potty-mouth). I think he should tone it down, but I also have to remember the audience he's playing to--mostly men, many of them young who are also on the social networks and this type of speech is a way to connect with them, to show he "speaks their language."
The result is that all this effort--and it does take effort--has kept him very busy and top of mind, despite the fact he can't play football right now, which I can only guess is the one thing he and the rest of the NFL players wish they were doing
This has all been done through his savvy use of Social Media including his website, Facebook, and, of course Twitter. And, as you know, these networks are open to anyone. To my mind, it is the leveling of the playing field (no pun intended), so that a small business owner, or simply a personality, can create his or her own media, stories, narrative and build a brand. No longer is it necessary to pay professionals to get the word out about you and your work. The media landscape has been utterly transformed.
So, my hat's off to Chad Ochocinco. I hope he keeps it going and when the labor dispute ends, I may actually become a new fan! I will certainly be more inclined to watch his games.
P.S.: Chad, if you read this, will you kindly follow my friend and your diehard fan, Peter Miller, @WinningBalance? You won't find anyone more loyal.
Ruth Sherman Associates LLC  / High-Stakes Presentation Skills Coaching, Consulting & Media Training for CEOs, Celebrities, Politicians, & Entrepreneurs / Greenwich & Los Angeles
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