The legendary boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was actually one of the best PR stunts in recent history.
And PR isn’t new to UFC.
UFC President Dana White got the Ultimate Fighting Championship to where it is by slugging it out with repeated publicity, turning UFC into the veritable multimedia monster that it is today.
A businessman at heart, he knows the power of publicity and has used the media to get recognition from sports fans around the world. He has applied these tools masterfully. Here are a few of his strategies:
- HE employed a PR firm to train fighters on how to effectively tweet and told them to, quote, “Tweet your asses off.”
- He was brutally honest in interviews and showed passion and didn’t hide behind safe statements.
- With his brash media presence, rough language, and generally strong demeanor he made himself arguably the biggest “star” or “player” in the UFC. Compare that to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who fans boo during the NFL draft.
- Before mainstream media would pick up coverage for fights, Dana White utilized Twitter to reach fighter enthusiast blogs to build popularity. He’s also active on Twitter and despite his 1,000,000+ followers, he interacts with people often.
The PR success of UFC was proven once again with the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. It started in 2015 with the media. Conor McGregor was featured in Esquire magazine after a big win, saying “If you put me face-to-face with Floyd Mayweather—pound-for-pound boxing’s best—if I fought Floyd, I would kill him in less than 30 seconds.” It was bold… and it got printed.
Fast forward two years, hundreds of articles later, and the McGregor-Mayweather boxing match actually happened. A fight that according to contract would make at least $30 million for McGregor, $100 million for Mayweather, and became the second largest pay-per-view event of all time, after the massively hyped Mayweather v. Pacquiao.
Predictably, Mayweather took the trophy against first-time boxer McGregor, but the UFC champ put up an incredible fight and it was an exciting match that satisfied fans. After the success of the fight, media speculation and talk from McGregor even raised the possibility of a UFC Mayweather-McGregor matchup.
This was a major PR stunt and WOW was it Disruption. It earned a spot as the major sporting event of that summer. The fight brought two big sports together – and two disparate audiences – into ONE BIG AUDIENCE. That, my friends, is DISRUPTION, EXPOSURE and INFLUENCE. It’s PR at its finest and something that all businesses should look at when they want an example of what disruption can do in your industry.
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