If you happened to flip on the TV, poke around the news or surf the Web this past weekend, chances are you came across the name Melanie Oudin. The 17-year-old tennis phenom from Marietta, Georgia has turned the U.S. Open into a motivational firestorm as she continues to upset seeded opponents and crank her way through the Tournament.
A quick glance at any social media site shows a groundswell of support forming for Melanie. Assuming Melanie has a publicist (that is likely jumping for joy and receiving quite the test in reporter response time) I thought it would be fun to throw out a few PR/social media steps I’d be considering to help capitalize and effectively manage this swell of attention.
1. Provide a Protective Media Umbrella
At 17, Melanie is one of the most composed athletes around and reminds me of a young Venus Williams or Tiger Woods. She doesn’t get flustered and she fights back with a tenacious spirit. She’s got a 15-year-old boyfriend. She wears the word “believe” on her shoes. She talks candidly during interviews just like you’d expect of any other teenager. In other words, she’s a tee up Cinderella story made for media attention.
As a publicist, it’s your job to protect this experience by formulating a media barrier and allowing Melanie to stay focused on the prize at hand, channeling media attention at appropriate times.
2. Contact Twitter & Get Engaged
Melanie remained a trending topic on Twitter throughout the weekend. Currently, it appears that Melanie Oudin is a brandjacked handle on the site. Certainly Biz and the boys would be willing to reset the account for a budding tennis star. Melanie’s publicist could certainly take care of building up followers on her account and though one would not expect Melanie to tweet, posting a few updates/replies before and after matches or on off days would be huge for fan engagement.
3. Shoot Some Video
Similar to the tweets, capturing a bit of behind-the-scenes footage with a Flip or other handheld HD camera would be another great fan engagement tool. The secondary benefit of course being content that can be easily distributed for bloggers and journalists alike with the messaging in your hands.
4. Beef Up Her Facebook Page
Not that it’s bad, but much more could be done to improve Melanie’s Facebook page. The page of course also provides a good opportunity to feature behind-the-scenes video and photo footage along with content-rich status updates. Post U.S. Open, Melanie could host regular one-hour fan chats on her page as well.
5. Provide Your Fans With Their Own Platform
As far as I can tell, Melanie currently does not have a Website set up. Now is the time to get a site up and running and provide fans with a forum for interacting and sharing content with one another. Another easy solution would be to tailor a Ning site for fan interaction.
6. Get Ready for Brand Explosion
Regardless of what happens, Melanie is about to aggressively build her brand. Sponsors and advertisers are undoubtedly already knocking at her door (check out this Times Square media blitz). No one knows for sure what the future holds or how Melanie will develop as a pro, but things certainly look strong at the moment.
Now is the time to be proactive and ensure as many steps as possible are taken to protect Melanie’s online reputation as her popularity blossoms.
What other PR/social media items would you be considering?