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LeBron, The Media, and Your Message

By FastCompany Expert Bloggers Nick Nanton & JW Dicks

Companies must take control of their own brand message and use their own media to do so when possible. LeBron James' control of ESPN's own show, to announce his jump from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat NBA Franchise, was as strong of an in-your-face illustration of the point as you can make.

James told ESPN who would interview him, when they could pop the question on his choice of teams, which sponsors would fill the hour long show, and perhaps more importantly, where the money paid for the sponsorships would go. Like it or not, and many journalists don't, this is just the beginning of high profile sources taking control of a news event. The bigger the story, the more control the newsmaker will have--and that means content control, revenue control and residual spinoffs. Whether you like the way it went down or not, take a look at the opportunity it presents and think about how you could leverage this kind of coup using your personal brand like LeBron did on a local, regional, national, or industry level.

In a world where athletes and celebrities now have their own direct relationship with fans through social media channels, they can not only deliver the news, they can bring the eyeballs to watch the announcement. When the fans have fun and the media and the celebrity make money, who is to complain except the purist--and that cat is out of the bag.

Even though you may not have superstar status in your own market, don't miss the point that this same formula can also be used in other ways. Local announcements of sports events or celebrity appearances can be used to create your own media appearances where you act as host, agent, deal maker, or sponsor depending on the role that best helps to elevate your personal brand. Use of news to expand your brand is not a new idea, but it's taking on a new form that offers lots of opportunities.