David Beckham: How He Scored A Real PR Goal
I was given the assignment of covering David Beckham’s official introduction to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Major League Soccer team that has invested millions in him. His base salary is $5.5 million a year, about 50 times the norm. But that salary could balloon to as much as $50 million a year, based on performance bonuses,new sponsorships, and revenue sharing. Galaxy ticket sales have already soared $20 million since announcing Beckham would join the team.
But enough about the money. Here’s what you didn’t see in my coverage.
The guy is a refreshing change for a super star athlete. For one thing, he’s nice. To everyone. He seems fairly down to earth. He spoke of his children as if he actually raises them. And, ok, his looks don’t hurt. But here’s what impressed me most: he spent two hours, TWO HOURS, in the blazing sun going down a line of reporters, giving each one of us our allotted two minutes.
All that as the CNN reporter behind me kept rehearsing her first line to him out loud in full broadcast voice—“At last, we finally have our day in the sun with David Beckham, David, CNN here…” She did it so many times that I almost, ALMOST introduced myself to him right before her with “At last, we have our moment in the sun with David Beckham, David, CNBC here…” just to force her to scramble for another opening line…but I refrained from such cruelty.
Beckham answered every question, no matter how insane, and seemed willing to talk forever to each of us, except his handlers kept him moving along. He didn’t even sweat. He shook my hand warmly at the beginning of the interview, and again at the end. I felt like I was talking to a normal person, who just happened to be rich, famous, and good-looking. We were all bowled over. It was the PR equivalent of GOAL!
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