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How do you solve a problem like Maria [Sharapova]?

By Jason Mudd

by Jason Mudd, APR

Do you solve a problem like Maria? Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t.

Recent events surrounding her ultra-quick firing of a coach, speculated name-change to support her candy business and withdrawal from the U.S. Open have created an even larger news buzz and have likely escalated her $29 million reputation.

Maria Sharapova, tennis star and formerly third seed for the 2013 U.S. Open, continues to create news almost on the hour in recent weeks. Here’s a summary:

For several weeks, she has been turning heads toward her line of candies, telling The Times of London and other sources that she may seriously consider changing her name officially to Maria Sugarpova – just in time for the Aug. 26 U.S. Open. The tactic generated much social media conversation and engagement – not just for the 26-year old Russian’s tennis talent, but also for her candies and accessories. She invited audiences to comment on whether or not she should change her name, which proved a successful maneuver in terms of boosting her news power.

This debate of Sharapova vs. Sugarpova came to a halt with an announcement on Aug. 21 that no, she wouldn’t change her name. Even more surprising: After much deliberation, she won’t actually compete in the U.S. Open due to shoulder injuries. This marks a double whammy of news that is generating consumer interest and awareness, along with articles. The announcement came to her fans through a Facebook message that was reiterated on her website. It also prompts audiences to talk about how they’ll miss Maria in the upcoming tournament, and that they yearn for her return.

Meanwhile, she abruptly fired coach Jim Connors after just one match, in a “rip the bandaid off” approach that says to her public, “If something’s not working, I’ll try something else.” For some, the act may have inspired disdain; for many others, it elevated Maria’s brand and displayed a no-nonsense approach on the court.

At any rate, the events of the past few weeks have created curiosity, interest and awareness in all things Maria. They’ve resulted in numerous articles across news outlets, sports sources, social media commentaries and even across major business networks. She’s savvy enough to marry her business enterprises with her sports talent, gleaning responses from audiences and news coverage while swinging her racket.

So how do you solve a problem like Maria? You probably peruse the news online and eat a few of her candies, if you can find them, while you ponder that very question.

If your organization has a swirl of news circulating about your brand or your recent activities, let Axia Public Relations help guide that coverage into a new level of sweet success.

Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon and emerging brands like Brightway Insurance, Pragmatic Works and It Works! Global.

Topics: media relations, public relations, crisis communications

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