Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer is in the sports PR business, in a big way. First came news he was handling the NCAA College Football Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, which continues to face scrutiny from fans who would prefer a playoff system.
Now, Fleischer is handling Mark McGwire as he embarks on his steroid use admission tour. The Times outlined the process as it unfolded yesterday, from statement to several phone interviews, to a full sit down interview with Bob Costas on MLB network.
“I like the door-to-door strategy, in that he is telling his story in long form and in less confrontational settings,” Kevin Sullivan, a former White House communications director who has his own agency, told the Times.
While it took Pete Rose twenty years to admit he placed bets on baseball, McGwire doesn’t have that same luxury as he had to come clean before he begins the season as a hitting coach with his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Drew Kerr, president and founder of Four Corners Communications, has represented sports brands including the Sporting News. He told PRNewser that while “it takes guts” to go through with the admission, this admission is challenging because “this is a career” rather than a “one time incident.” The same sports writers were around back then said Kerr, referring to McGwire’s hey-day in the mid and late nineties, and “their memories are long.”
Also, there is a corporate connection to McGwire doing his first televised sit down with Bob Costas, as pointed out by the Times: “Costas is represented by IMG, which owns half of Fleischer’s company.”