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Making Athletes More Marketable: National Signing Day

National Signing Day Families across the country are on pins and needles today waiting for the results of National Signing Day. It can bring about a bevy of anxiety for athletes as they take a look back at their exposure with the media and their fans. Unfortunately today, it is almost impossible for a top notch athlete to go unnoticed in the media. The slightest hiccup in their life can be misconstrued and create a public persona that may not be as favorable as they would have liked. It is more important now than ever for popular athletes to remain a squeaky clean image at all times. Last week’s Super Bowl showed us just how much the public craves a marketable athlete. In countless interviews, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has expressed his disdain for speaking with the media. A man of very few words, Lynch goes into “Beast Mode” on the field, but prefers to stay away from the lights of the cameras. This year’s Super Bowl Media Day was a bit comical as Lynch was filmed repeatedly saying “I’m just here so I don’t get fined”. Lynch’s loophole to mandatory interviews provided comic relief for some of his fans, but for others drew adversarial looks. For those who have followed Lynch in the media, it is clear that his only desire is to get out there on the field and do what he loves. There are other well-known athletes that perhaps should have taken a page from Lynch’s book and refrained from making public comments as much. Athletes Michael Sam and Johnny Manziel have been publicly scrutinized for being outspoken in their personal lives and allowing the media and other onlookers to display facets of their personality that have nothing to do with the game of football. While some athletes have benefited from excessive media exposure, for someone like Michael Sam it has actually been the Achilles heel of his career. Sam argues that his public persona cost him his career, as he allowed cameras to follow him and document his life as an openly gay football player. Whether that’s true or not is still up for debate, as the public never did get a firm grip on just how much Sam would flourish on the field in his professional career. But what we do know is that had Sam not embraced opportunities to speak about his personal life that his short lived career would be debated in an entirely different bubble than the one the media allowed him to create. The road to being publicly embraced as an athlete begins very early on in an athlete’s career. It is not uncommon for people to dig into someone’s history at the slightest sign of discomfort. The very first thing the media looked for in the Ray Rice case was the background and behavioral patterns of Rice and his now wife. The two were publicly scrutinized, analyzed, and investigated with theories on their previous behavioral patterns. People want to be able to put the puzzle pieces together and figure out the core of the person they are watching on television. Just seeing their face and listening to a recap of their performance is no longer enough. People want an inside view of everything from breakfast preferences to family history in order to enjoy seeing you carry a ball. With social media networks displaying every breath we take, college athletes now have to live under the radar much more than ever. Appearances at certain events or association with certain people can make or break their careers before they even get to the draft. High School athletes must be prepared to ensure that their image is untainted from the day they step foot on a college campus. As a college athlete, trouble with the law can lead to academic and athletic suspensions, and permanent record damage that will hurt their chances at a career in professional sports. Teams across the country are increasing their affiliation with community related events and academic endeavors that will increase the appeal for their athletes in the future. Student athletes are encouraged today to build diverse resumes that will solidify a positive personal image, and ultimately lead to a longer and more successful career. Guidance from coaches, athletic support staff, and other mentors can ensure that an athlete has a firm grip on a positive future in sports.

3 Ways I've Rocked Out The Beginning of The Year
Perfecting Your Brand Everyone wants to start their year out with a bang. But much like fitness goals for the new year, many people fall short in keeping up with their personal and business related goals. I started back in October prepping myself for what I would change in 2015 to take my business to the next level. I started out with generalized goals, and then wrote down specifics of where I would set my sights for the expansion of Billingslea Media. I decided to break down my goals into small tasks, as to not get too overwhelmed. But what's kept me on track are these 3 ideals that guide the overall flow of my work days.

Mindset Without a positive mindset, your path to success will be a lot more bumpy that expected. The #1 thing I've changed is my confidence level. Taking a look back at my business and how its evolved over time, I realized that it was simply am act of Faith. My confidence and resiliency allowed me to remain faithful that things would constantly improve. I set my sights high, and even daydreamed a little, and the energy has motivated me more than ever before.

Sponge-like Reflexes Okay, so I may have made up that term, but by Golly it has made me a better businesswoman. I make it a point to absorb everything I encounter...The good, bad, and the ugly. I absorb it like a sponge, and hold on to it for dear life. I'm amazed at how much I've learned what NOT to do. Instead of filtering out bad business practices or negative energy, I go back to it and remain mindful of those practices. It allows me to remember how to better serve my existing and potential clients.

The Reading Rainbow I cannot express how important it is to read! I have always loved reading, but I never realized just how far it would take me in life. The nerdy girl inside of me gets excited at the thought of new and exciting material, and now the PR Maven inside of me gets excited upon the sight of new layouts and calls to action. Very often I find myself getting inspired by the things I read in the strangest places. Ideas are everywhere, and your inspiration can be revived upon reading your next magazine article or blog post. Sometimes I find that my inspiration is totally unrelated to the topic in which I've read. Other times I see something that I could've done better. But most importantly, I am motivated by the stories shared by successful business owners, coaches, and start up companies. The amount of FREE material on the web today is enough to give you a world class education in business management.

The month of January has brought about great new things for Billingslea Media. I've managed to forge relationships that are mutually beneficial to my overall growth. My clients have set their sights on higher goals, and the partnerships we've forged have been absolutely amazing. There are 11 months left in this year. With this amount of crazy momentum, there is no telling what is going to happen next.
MEGA Mentors Fine Art Benefit & Sale

"When I Fly" by April Harrison  Art aficionados, community supporters, and music lovers, get ready for the MEGA Mentors Art Benefit and Sale this weekend! The annual event is held in partnership with the Freedom Classic Festival, which celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to being able to purchase featured artist works, guests will also have the opportunity to meet the artists behind the masterpieces and take pleasure in live musical entertainment throughout the evening. Proceeds from the benefit will directly support the deserving students of Chesterfield County Public Schools through the MEGA Mentors Program.

The MEGA Mentors organization has over 100 volunteer mentors, and serves to benefit youth in the Chesterfield county school system. Located in the heart of the historic Jackson Ward district of Richmond VA, the luxurious exhibition will be held at the Hippodrome Theater, featuring an assortment of world-renowned artists of various backgrounds. The event begins at 7pm on Friday January 16th.

mega mentors 2014mega mentors collage photo

For more information on the event, or to find out more about the sponsoring organization, please visit

Client gives back over holiday season

Choosing the right clients is just as important as it is for a client to choose their agency. In my short time as a PR and Communications Consultant I have been fortunate enough to come across some very amazing people. It is important to me that my clients share the same vision and goals as I do. It allows for a more mutually beneficial working relationship, and gives clients a chance to tap into a deeper awareness of hidden opportunity. Billingslea Media client Terrance Copper knows how important it is to give back to his community. Since returning to Eastern NC after retiring from the NFL, Copper has made it a point to give back on a regular basis. His constant care and concern for area youth helps inspire young people who are in need of positive role models, morale boosters, and proof that hard work does pay off. This holiday season, Copper donated time and gifts to area organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House of Greenville NC and the EXCEL organization (Exceptional Children Enjoying Life) of Washington NC. When asked about the Shop With a Safety Officer event for the EXCEL organization, Copper replied to the Washington Daily News “Just to see the kids, the looks on their faces when they get their gifts — it feels so good to be able to give back. This is not everyday. What they do in Washington — this doesn’t go on everywhere. I feel like the community is very lucky to have a police department and fire department like we have.”.

Copper participates in various fundraisers and speaking engagements throughout the year, and holds a FREE annual football camp for area youth in Eastern NC during the summer. For more information, or to contact Copper for your next fundraiser or speaking engagement contact Billingslea Media at

(c) Vail Stewart Rumley, Washington Daily News

(c) Vail Stewart Rumley, Washington Daily News

Greenville NC Ronald McDonald House

Copper donated electronics for children at the Greenville NC Ronald McDonald House