Let’s start with the full disclosure: Alan Taylor is one of the people most responsible for my career in P.R. My work at his eponymous firm, Alan Taylor Communications (ATC), wasn’t my first job out of school, but it was the first outside of the college SID realm, introducing me to the kinds of big time events—and the work behind-the-scenes that goes into them—that shaped the rest of my career path and those of dozens of others who called ATC home in those years.
So, I may be biased, but when someone the stature of Taylor—in the sports world and in my life—comes out with a memoir chronicling more than half a century in the business, I took notice.
Taylor’s new book, A Perfect Pair: PR and Event Promotion, published by and now available on Amazon, chronicles his time writing in Florida and California, through his work getting the sports P.R. world rolling with ATC in New York City in 1980.
The book is filled with anecdotes from boxing, tennis, other sports and a myriad of client activities to autobiographical information about how his career in writing and promoting all came together. And while Taylor’s name may not be familiar to readers, those like Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King and dozens of others with whom Taylor has worked reads like a who’s-who of athletes in the second half of the 20th century.
Taylor, 81 and now retired in Boca Raton, Fla., not too far from the University of Miami campus from which he graduated—let’s say a few years before “The U” earned its athletics bona fides, took some time to talk about his career and the book in an exclusive interview with SportsMedia Report.
Alan Taylor: The book was a long time coming, but I needed a push. My family especially my wife Claire had been urging me to write memoir book. Howard Dolgon, my business partner, had pushed also. I ran into a former client who teaches writing in the area. He gave me a “how-to-outline,” and the final push over the cliff to do the book.
SMR: What’s your favorite sports or event memory?
AT: I was blessed with many, many special moments in sports. It is hard to pinpoint one. Handling the publicity, media relations for the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston championship fight in Miami Beach in 1964 definitely stands out as one of my most exciting experiences, which is well illustrated in the book.
I worked on eight different Olympics and have yet to win any medals. But being at the site, working with athletes and clients was an enormous sense of proud. We accomplished many great things for our clients.
SMR: What career tips do you have for people looking to get into Sports PR/Event Promotions as a full-time cCareer?
AT: When I first started my agency in 1980, sports and event public relations was non-existent. I, along with my talented staff, virtually created this specialty. For those looking to get into the profession, I would stress the need to learn marketing and general consumer product business. The idea of just getting “exposure” for your client is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to know how to immerse your client with its l customer. I call that experiential marketing. Once that is mastered, the publicity comes easier because the media is covering the experience and not the product, per se.
Today, of course, today’s traditional media is not what it used to be, but it is still important. The opportunities are greater with the continued growth of the social media and digital platforms.
If I were going into college now, I would lean toward marketing as a major coupled with a sports management minor. There are many good sports management programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. These are heavily geared toward teams, leagues and academic sector opportunities. My dreams and desires were geared toward public sector of corporate America.
AT: The industry in which I grew up has changed dramatically. I lived in an era when getting the client a newspaper placement was very important; ditto for a spot on a morning television show or evening sportscast.
Today it is a new game. We dinosaurs lived and died by the traditional placements. Today’s young turks live and die by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. While the print media is hurting, it is evolving into successful digital platforms. So a client story in the sports section of the New York Times was a homerun by our standards; today a placement on the digital edition of the New York Times would be just as exciting and beneficial to the client.
Just look at every newspaper and how big an effort they are making by fine-tuning their on-line presence? That’s the change.
SMR: What excites you about the future of the industry?
AT: Remember when Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax held out for $100,000 or $125,000 back in 1960s? Unbeknownst to them at the time, it could be said they started the “union.” Sports are no longer sports for the sake of sports. Today sports is big business.
Big business, whether it is in the private sector, academia or sports teams and league, big thinking from grass roots to “fannies” in the sits to selling client products through sponsorships and endorsements will require big time thinking from those entering the profession.
Just ask yourself the question: if you are the owner of the LA Lakers or a sponsor of the Lakers what do you have to do to generate revenue to pay for LeBron James’ salary?
If you are the “widget” manufacturer sponsoring the Lakers what is it going to take to get a return on your investment even with James as its star?
Broadcast/digital rights are a major revenue stream for leagues and teams and sponsors has to learn how to leverage those platforms to get their return on investments.
The creativity to address the new opportunities within the sports marketing universe would be an exciting challenge with just getting the creative juices flowing…but I am glad I am retired.
SMR: How can fans get a copy of the book, ““A PERFECT PAIR: PR AND EVENT PROMOTIONS”?
AT: The book, which chronicles my career from sports writing to sports promoting, is available on Amazon.com by going to the book section searching for “A Perfect Pair: PR and Event Promotions.” The paperback sells for $19.99 and slightly less for the digital version.