Athletes Premier International Case Study


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PR case study of Athletes Premier International's former client Aroldis Chapman

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Athletes Premier International Case Study

  1. 1. Athletes Premier International & Aroldis Chapman Case Study Prepared by Hamilton Public Relations1
  2. 2. Situation > In 2009, Aroldis Albertin Chapman was regarded as one of the best pitchers not playing in the major leagues. He was a twenty-one year old left handed pitcher on the Cuban National Team whose fastball had been clocked in excess of 100 mph. In July of that year, Chapman defected while traveling to The Netherlands to compete in a tournament and set off a chase among player representation agencies to find and sign a player who would likely attract a multi-million dollar contract. > Based on the recommendation of a childhood friend, Chapman met with Edwin Mejia of Athletes Premier International (API) in Amsterdam and subsequently hired him to act as his agent. Chapman’s friend had emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was young and Mejia had helped him find a college baseball scholarship after high school. > Athletes Premier International (API) is a small agency that’s dedicated to representing historically underserved athletes from Latin America and the inner cities of the United States. Mejia is the agency’s lone certified agent. In 2009, the agency represented a few minor league baseball players as well as several prospects they were developing at their Academy in the Dominican Republic. > In order to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and negotiate with any team that wanted to sign him, Chapman would have to establish residency outside the U.S. and be granted a waiver from the Treasury Department to work in the country as a Cuban National. These steps often take a year to be completed.2
  3. 3. Situation > API was unknown to most of the baseball media and executives and that prompted questions about their ability to represent an athlete of Chapman’s caliber. Rival agencies were also attempting to contact Chapman in order to lure him away or offer their services to API for a cut of the subsequent contract. > Although highly regarded, little was known about Chapman beyond the few appearances he made in international competitions. While his fastball attracted attention, his lack of effective secondary pitches and loss of composure during a tough outing raised some red flags. Unverified statistics of his play in the Cuban National Series showed some control issues with an almost equal number of strike outs to combined walks and wild pitches. In addition, there were questions about Chapman’s true age since other Cuban defectors were found to be older than their stated age. > In order to keep rival agencies at bay and Chapman in shape, API moved him to the tax haven of Andorra where he could quickly establish residency and commute to Barcelona a few times a week to work out in one of the baseball stadiums there.3
  4. 4. Strategy > Hamilton Public Relations developed a focused media strategy that was flexible enough to work with both Chapman and Mejia’s limited availability to conduct interviews and the unexpected changes in Chapman’s immigration status. > It was important to not only show that Chapman was in shape and focused on signing a Major League contract, but share his story and personality in order to attract interested teams and potential sponsors. > To counter the media’s early focus on Chapman’s control problems, the agency recommended comparing him to Randy Johnson in interviews and media correspondence. Like Chapman, Johnson had a dominating fastball, but he had to overcome control problems early in his career before going on to win several Cy Young awards. > Without sharing API’s plans for Chapman, it was also important to convey that they were knowledgeable and experienced enough to get Chapman certified as a free agent and signed to a multi-million dollar contract and attract other clients. > The plan was to build the volume of media as Chapman became a free agent and began talking to teams. At first, API planned to stay in Europe until a contract was signed, but changed course and came to the U.S. to talk to teams and allow Chapman to work out for a select few. > The agency first focused on media and specific writers that would provide a larger audience through their use of both traditional, online and social media in the least amount of time. Hispanic sports media would also be a part of the outreach in order to raise his status in that market.4
  5. 5. Results > Following the announcement that Chapman signed with API, Hamilton fielded interview requests from dozens of media outlets and ultimately negotiated a comprehensive media package with ESPN for the first interview with Chapman. > The half day interview generated a 15 minute interview segment on “Outside the Lines,” a feature story in ESPN The Magazine, an article with additional photos and video on as well as several other clips and digests on SportsCenter, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and their other properties. The interview generated additional coverage in other media commenting on ESPN’s coverage. > Updates on Chapman’s status were relayed through Twitter and email to select media that offered the widest audiences on social media. Updates included info on his workouts, residency and free agent status as well as what teams had contacted API to discuss Chapman. > After he established residency and was declared a free agent, Chapman was brought to New York to start meeting interested ball clubs. A series of interviews in English and Spanish were set up with Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and ESPN in order to further develop his story and introduce his personality to baseball fans and executives. > In the weeks following Chapman’s arrival in the United States he was the most discussed baseball free agent and generated tens of millions of impressions across all media platforms. In addition several companies including adidas, Under Armour and Rosetta Stone held talks with API about securing Chapman’s endorsement.5