Sully's Blog

Rich Gotham had it right. The Boston Celtics president had joined the team’s public relations staff and me on a conference call to discuss the preseason team media training session I would be conducting. When the conversation turned to Twitter, Gotham provided very specific guidance.

“Tell the players, ‘If you’re going to tweet, tweet with a purpose.’”

Gotham wanted to help the Celtics avoid the self-inflicted Twitter turnovers that can distract a team or even hurt the club on the court. Careless use of social media has resulted in fines (Brandon Jennings of the Bucks) and suspensions (White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen), players being benched (former Jets wide receiver David Clowney, now with the Panthers) and even waived (former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson).

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From a news release issued by NBC Sports & Olympics on Feb. 24, 2010:


“The Billion Dollar Lab” initiative involved the participation of a number of research suppliers and the source line following each of the learnings indicates how the data was obtained.


· 46% of Olympic viewers changed their typical routine to watch the Olympics.

· 63% stayed up longer than usual to watch, resulting in 42% being “more tired than normal.”

· 35% of viewers cried or became teary-eyed while watching (25% among men)

2. BIG EVENT TV... +Continue Reading


Tiger Woods accomplished what he needed to on Friday in order to take the first steps on the road to image recovery. He took full responsibility for his transgressions, his contrition seemed sincere and he talked about specific personal changes he needed to make to live a “life of integrity.

He did not take questions, which was the right thing to do.

However, Woods would have helped himself even further by assuring the media that, at the appropriate time, and certainly before he tees it up again at a PGA Tour event, he will address their questions — as long as they do not cross a certain line.

He shouldn’t be expected to provide the kinds of details that certain, less than respectable, media outlets will seek. But he will have a better chance to put this behind him... +Continue Reading


Bill Gates was taking questions at Microsoft headquarters from an audience of the company’s top female executives. The first question came from a woman who wanted to know how, with three young children, Gates was able to balance his personal and work lives.

“Well, I don’t watch television,” Gates began. “And I don’t follow sports. So I can’t participate in those conversations.”

He said it matter-of-factly, as if it were no big deal. As if time spent watching and reading about sports would be better spent on … well, almost anything.

“I don’t watch television and I don’t follow sports.” I found myself actually feeling sorry for the world’s richest man.

So what if he is the most respected philanthropist in the world and has generously used his wealth to take on... +Continue Reading


ell it first, tell it yourself and tell it all. That is the tried and true formula for handling a messy public relations crisis in the smoothest possible way.

When Tiger Woods let 13 hours lapse after Friday’s early-morning accident without issuing an explanation, he ceded control of his story not only to legitimate news outlets, but also to celebrity gossip mongers on the hunt for a tale –- made up or otherwise -– of adultery and mayhem. The story of Tiger’s first major off-the-course bogey was in their sights and the race was on to fill in the juicy details.

Woods hired attorney Mark NeJame, which shouldn’t raise eyebrows -– after all, the police are investigating Woods’ crash -– but repeatedly declining to be interviewed by the police makes it look like he has... +Continue Reading


Thanks to Joe Favorito for passing along “Let’s Reinvent the Game Story” – an interesting read from the National Sports Journalism Center in Indy…the writer, Jason Fry offers four options for the classic sports game storiesL  1)  Retire them; 2) Revitalize them; 3) Reinvigorate them; and 4) Roboticize them.  Here is my take,  followed by  Fry’s story:

I am in the camp that game stories get their value today from being featurized in a way that tells a story beyond the play-by-play – not by injecting opinion.  Great game stories add color and context  beyond what a viewer would have learned from watching the telecast.  In my view Washington Post Nationals beat writer Chico Harlan (referenced in the story below) at times goes too far.  His stories almost mocked the nationals at... +Continue Reading


I am not sure how many people — especially animal lovers –Michael Vick won over with his news conference Friday in Philadelphia and his “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night. But he got me.

Sure, I reserve the requisite amount of skepticism for all athlete comebacks these days, but I believe that Vick is sorry for his crimes and understands that only his actions will convince people he has changed.

There were four moments in Sunday night’s exclusive “60 Minutes” interview that convinced me:

  • When James Brown confronted Vick with a graphic recitation of the acts associated with the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation, then asked him, “For those who may say it showed a lack of moral character because you didn’t stop it, you agree or disagree?” Vick didn’t... +Continue Reading


On my first day as White House communications director back in July 2006, I stuck my head   in Tony Snow’s office to say hello.  He bounded from behind his desk and said, “Come on – I     want to show you something.“

Tony, who had been press secretary a little over two months, led me out of the West Wing      and up the driveway toward the Northwest Appointments Gate.  “I do this almost every day,”    he said. When we got close to the Secret Service guardhouse on Pennsylvania Ave., Tony i  instructed me to turn around and look back at the North Portico of the White House.

“Look at that,” he gushed.   “Isn’t that neat?  That’s where we get to work.  When I worked here the first time, for President Bush 41, I was too young and too stupid to appreciate it.  This time I’m not... +Continue Reading


The profile on AP White House correspondent Ben Feller in the May/June issue of the “Penn Stater”    provides a terrific behind the scenes look at what life inside the gates is like for White House   correspondents.  Feller, the reporter who broke the story of Sonya Sotomayor’s selection as President  Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, is a 1992 graduate of Penn State.

Before working with Feller during my White House days, I dealt with him when he was AP’s national education reporter and I headed up communications at the Department of Education.  I always found him to be fair and enjoyable to work with.  This profile is must reading for anyone interested in how the press covers the President both inside the White House and on the road.

One update since the story was... +Continue Reading


As I read Mrs. Bush’s column (below, “Do Not Forget Burma”) in this morning’s Washington Post, I thought back on all of her First Lady communications firsts – milestones I wish I had room to include in yesterday’s Real Clear Politics column on the history of Presidential communications.

For example:

  • She became the first non-President to deliver the weekly radio address when President Bush turned the microphone over to her on Nov. 17, 2001 for remarks on the brutality towards women and children in Afghanistan.
  • In June 2007, she became the original First Lady blogger with her posts on from Africa.
  • In February 2008 she delivered another radio address, this time on heart health.
  • On May 5, 2008 Mrs. Bush became... +Continue Reading