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Volume 21 No. 30
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Denise White, founder, Entertainers & Athletes Group

Denise White founded Entertainers & Athletes Group 17 years ago to do the things for athletes that traditional playing contract agents don’t do, including PR and marketing. EAG now has 32 athlete clients, including 27 NFL players. And with the explosion of social media, an increasing amount of White’s time and work is focused on crisis management.

— By Liz Mullen

As a female in this industry, I found it very hard coming up to be taken seriously, but once I was taken seriously — and that took awhile because agents were intimidated by me and agents weren’t too sure what EAG did — but once people figured that out, we garnered respect. But, every day, it’s still a battle.

Social media in endorsements: I have probably done a few hundred marketing contracts in the last year, and every single one has a social media component. Every single one. Everything from autograph signings to endorsement deals with GNC to Gatorade to Subway. A guy is appearing at a mall and the mall wants him to tweet it out. I kid you not: There is not a contract I have done in the past year that has not included social media. And if a guy doesn’t have social media, a company will pass on him.

The need for crisis management: I have never done more crisis management than since social media came on to the forefront. When Instagram and all that stuff started happening — the news cycle is less than a 24-hour news cycle now. It’s actually minute by minute; it’s not day by day. Because of social media and athletes having camera phones … we have crisis management at least a couple of times a month with our players.

Fans or the athletes creating trouble?: It’s both. You put an athlete in a situation where he is not going to tweet or take pictures, but you have someone taking a picture and tweeting about him. It’s the athlete not knowing when to be quiet on social media or wanting to respond to idiots saying things about them — because we all want to defend ourselves, especially if you are an athlete.

Advice to athletes: I do think there is a market for athletes to be on social media. However, I always say, “If you think it’s clever, it probably isn’t.” I will tell our athletes who are having problems on social media, the biggest power you have is to block someone; that when someone is talking trash to you, all you do is block them and move on. And if you feel like you cannot control yourself on social media, get off it; you do not need to be on it, plain and simple. It’s not for everybody. Guys think it is for everybody, but it’s really not. And if you can’t talk where people can understand you, you shouldn’t be on it, either.

Trends in the business: What I have noticed in the past 10 years is athletes want an agency that comes with more than just the agent who does the contract. They want the bells, they want the whistles. Everybody wants to be a star.