Can the Yankees get their new stadium filled? Did Alex Rodriguez kill his image for good by kissing himself in the mirror, dating Madonna, and using steroids? And what about how the steroid scandal has affected the reputations of Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens? I asked a public relations expert about these issues and more.
Ronn Torossian is President & CEO of 5W Public Relations. His client list, which includes Coca-Cola, McDonald's, P.Diddy's Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, the Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network to the President of Serbia, is as diverse as his native Bronx, he quips.
Torossian, 34, grew up five minutes from Yankee Stadium and said he used to cut school to go watch Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield play. He calls the Yankees the "icon of American sports," but says that "the entire world has taken a fall," and the team isn't immune.
"The world has changed drastically financially," Torossian notes, "and the Yankees need to change with it." He says the Yankees front office has to "be receptive to what the fans have to say" regarding their criticisms of the new Stadium.
As for the team's dealings in the press, Torossian said "I didn't love" Randy Levine's response to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, where the Yankee president told Garber to "worry about Beckham, not the Yankees."
How can the Yankees stand out in this challenging economic climate? By being a positive story. "Many out there would like to see sports become fun again, Torossian says, "especially in these times."
The use of performance-enhancing drugs, of course, is one of the more negative issues facing Major League Baseball. I asked Torossian his thoughts on the players caught up in the scandal - Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens.
Alex Rodriguez is "not likeable.", the PR maven says, noting "his brand has really evolved in a bad way," Besides the steroids, there was the reported relationship with Madonna and that "absurd photo" of A-Rod kissing himself in the mirror. Rodriguez "doesn't do things to help himself," Torossian says.
So what can Alex do to fix his image? Torossian has a simple solution - "shut up and play ball."
These days, Torossian says that people think ballplayers make a lot of money from endorsements, but "the reality is very few athletes make money off the field."
Manny Ramirez, the PR expert notes, is one of the players whose star power has never translated to big commercials. As for Manny's marketability, "my perception is he really doesn't care that much" about that, Torossian says.
The 5WPR CEO says "the fall of Roger Clemens" coincides with "the rise of steroids" as a hot issue.
But the biggest issue facing baseball these days is the recession. So will the Yanks weather the current stormy economic climate? Torossian says yes. While the team is affected by what's going on in the world, the Yankees "won't fail," Torossian says. "They can't fail."
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