Tim Tebow comes to New York City with a very strong and positive brand. But what happens the first time Tebow speaks out in favor of pro-life issues, or for religious prayer in schools? How will New Yorkers (or more specifically the media) react when Tebow behaves as Tebow is famous for--as a fiercely proud evangelical Christian religious man?
Owning a PR firm that works extensively with the evangelical community, Tebow has reason to dis-trust the press corps and to pick and choose his interviews.
There’s no shortage of media clamoring to profile Tebow. But what happens when a reporter with an agenda corners him regarding premarital sex? Or some other (non-football) issue? Tebow needs to beware of the press corps, as my client, a preacher with a large church and following does, whom I challenge every single time he wants to do secular media interviews.
I fight him every step of the way because this minister feels in his heart that people are naturally good and fair-minded, and if they hear what he has to say, he will win them over. He’s completely wrong. The media has an agenda and it’s not to help him. Similarly for Tebow, controversy and scandal sells--not the nice religious young man.
I remember fighting off a producer from 60 Minutes on behalf of another religious ministry. The producer “threatened” not to call me again for an interview with this client if I didn’t grant this one (the show had been asking for an interview for a long while). My response was, “Is that a promise?” I wanted him to assure me he wouldn’t call again, but he thought he was threatening me. Really, though, we were on the same page, as this particular client is better off without 60 Minutes.
Tebow’s team needs to know that some interviews need a simple one-word answer in response to queries ... "no." Some stories are better off undone. If Tebow feels the need to talk “issues,” I’d advise he head straight for Fox News or a Christian broadcaster, where the odds will be more in his favor for a fairer outcome.
I vividly remember a discussion I had with a client regarding shopping. A family member of a pastor visited a local furniture store and purchased a few thousand dollars worth of merchandise, she had paid for with her own money. No wrongdoing whatsoever. However, the shopping “spree” became a lead story in the pastor’s city. I recommended that the pastor tell his family that if they wanted to buy things they shouldn’t do it a few minutes from their home, where people could be watching and talking. It’s not a question of doing something wrong; it’s a question of perception. Be discreet and drive an hour away to shop.
Tebow will face similar issues in the city of New York, whether it’s an innocent meal with a female friend, a visit to a local church (where I assure you he hasn’t listened to all of the pastors comments ever on race, religion and sex), and many other potential newspaper headlines. Tebow has “made it”--and his every move will be noticed--everyone will always know his name, but because of who he is they aren’t always going to be glad he came.
Tim Tebow should continue to put his faith in God--not in the liberal media.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Agency, and author of For Immediate Release, a best-selling PR book.
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