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October 4, 2010

While enjoying the festivities of this time of year, I couldn’t help but notice a familiar face in many of the headlines. To many of us around the country, Fall is synonymous with football. Regardless of whether or not you’re a die hard fan, you at least know someone who is. With that in mind, I’m sure you’ve all at least heard of Michael Vick and are familiar with his controversial saga beginning in 2007 when Michael, one of the most highly profiled athletes, found himself as the most talked about athlete, for all the wrong reasons.

In August 2007, Vick plead guilty to federal felony charges for his role in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement. With the loss of his NFL salary and product endorsement deals, combined with previous financial mismanagement, Vick filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in July 2008. Falcons owner Arthur Blank did not want Vick on the Falcons, and after attempts to trade him failed, Vick was released. Vick’s act was considered one of the most despicable and gruesome acts done by someone who was once so high. He was hated by the public.

Recently however, Vick seems to be on his way back up in regards to his career and in the eye of the public. Many consider him “lucky” for such a comeback, but I don’t think it has anything to do with luck. Vick’s comeback, aside from the fact that he has some major raw talent, is largely due to effective effective PR strategy put together by him and his people.

In the events immediately following the allegations, Vick was quick to humble himself, apologize and own up to his actions. Instead of denying the claims and shouting out against protesters, Vick was quick to show that he realized his actions were wrong and was remorseful for them as well as show that he was willing to take full responsibility for his actions. After serving his entire prison sentence as well as doing community service and beginning to pay back some of the debts he owed, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and was able to return to NFL week 3 of the 2009 season.

Although his physical capabilities had somewhat deteriorated during his incarceration, Vick put in countless hours and extreme effort to get back into tip top shape. With his career on the upswing, Vick’s people knew he still needed to win back the support of the public. This where the most clever PR tactics come in.

We Americans like comeback stories. We believe in second chances. This is exactly what Vick and his PR team had in mind when they decided to work the popular African American television network BET and come up new reality series title “The Michael Vick Project”. With this new reality TV show, Vick portrays himself as “a work in progress”. You might even say that’s the motto of the show. With the show, Vick is opening up his personal life and making himself more relatable by showing some of his own trials and struggles as he fights regain his former glory. He is also promoting the fact that he’s a changed man after everything he’s been through. Since it’s HIS TV show, he is able to control much of the content and make sure he is only shown in a positive light. This ensures that he will get the correct message sent to fans.

Aside from simply having a TV show, Vick has partnered with to provide the latest up to date news regarding him and his career. Videos of the episodes are available on YouTube as well as The use of social media was also not forgotten.  The website provides links to “friend” the show on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. There are also places to blog and discuss the show as well as an area to upload photos to show how much you love the game of football.

Vick must have a PR dream team behind him. Right from the beginning they acted quickly and made him own up to actions and apologize. Followed by hard physical work on Vick’s part to get his career back on track they cleverly tied in a reality TV show make people root for him once again. By reaching out to fans through many different social media venues they were able to create an even deeper connections with fans and even create some new ones. Although he’s still a “work in progress” Vick is well on his way back to the top, and he has great PR strategy to thank for that.

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