Point of View: Behind the scenes: Taking PR pointers from the Spurs crew

By Kristina Bell

I still maintain that the visit to the AT&T center this past Sunday was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When I first read the syllabus in Dr. Cassy Burleson’s advanced public relations class that we would be meeting Tom James, the Spurs’ director of media services, I was ecstatic.

Nothing could have kept me from class, but when I heard there was an opportunity to go behind the scenes and see what a public relations person does for a sports team, I made every effort to make sure I would be able to go.

I lived in San Antonio for more than 10 years. When I first arrived there, I was angry for having to move to Texas when I’d enjoyed my life in Florida.

I used to say there were only two things I really enjoyed about Texas: bluebonnets and the Spurs. San Antonio eventually grew on me, and I think one of the reasons it did was because of the small -town community feel in such a large city.

People laugh when I say that about the 10th largest city in the U.S., but it’s true. The unique culture allows for a connected community atmosphere, but the support for our one professional sports team helps as well.

As big as the city is, no matter where you go, when it’s Spurs season you’ll find flags on people’s cars waving proudly, billboards proclaiming “Go Spurs Go,” and even the old Taco Cabana colors of the Spurs: sea foam green, electric orange and salmon pink splayed across walls of buildings. It’s this familiarity and hope that creates a bond between everyone in San Antonio, and is why we love our team.

The day we arrived, I actually felt a little nervous. This was so exciting that butterflies were in my stomach, and I wondered if it was really such a good idea to give up so much time that could be used to study for a role play in my Professional Selling class. No, I’d switched schedules at work, found a way to get down to San Antonio, and was now standing in the presence of Kris Davis, senior media services coordinator of my favorite professional sports team. It was the right choice.

We took an elevator down to the event floor, and the only way it could be described was surreal. A member of our team gave a “How’s it going” to Antonio McDyess, who responded “What’s up?” Was I acting like a giddy school girl to squeal in delight over something so small? Perhaps, but my enthusiasm was overwhelming any reservation I’d had about going on this trip.

One of my favorite parts of the day was getting to see the players warm up while sitting courtside while Davis explained what a PR professional does in a normal day.

Afterward, we were taken over to the head coach’s office, where Gregg Popovich let reporters ask him questions.

It was strange to hear the half-joking, half-serious comments of the journalists next to us who called us the future competition. When the interview began, the coach gave my favorite quote of the evening, directed toward us after he gave us a warm greeting.

“The length of the answers reflect the quality of the questions,” he said.

For anyone who has kept track of Popovich’s career with the Spurs, they understand his meaning.

While the winning the game was a great highlight, and enjoyable to watch from where the secondary press sit, I feel the next highlight was seeing the press in the locker room after the game. Watching the press gather around the players they wanted to speak to, waiting for them to dress, was surreal.

The players do not answer questions until they are fully dressed, so George Hill, who performed very well during the game, took his time putting on clothing while a large group of cameras and reporters surrounded him.

Overall, getting to learn what a PR professional does for a sports team was a dreamlike experience. This public relations team works every day to ensure people like me get to know and continue to love the Spurs as players and as individual people.

The influence they have stretches nationally and they use influence to promote players of good character and skill. It is inspiring to see professional public relations in action and has only affirmed public relations as the field in which I belong.

Kristina Bell is journalism major and attended a behind the scenes public relations tour with the San Antonio Spurs with her advanced public relations class.