Brief Magazine Spring 2012 : Page 19

Shaquille O’Neal on Being a Media Maven Just about the only thing that might be bigger than Shaquille O’Neal is the former NBA center’s social media presence. From announcing his retirement from basketball via the video update platform Tout to his com-munication with his nearly 5.5 million Twitter followers, few megastars have embraced social networking quite like Shaq. Despite fi nding Twitter by accident while with the Phoenix Suns in 2008, Shaq has become one of the most popular athletes on the network thanks to his “very quotatious” sense of humor and his “Random Acts of Shaqness,” which have included inviting followers to witness him posing as a statue in Harvard Square, andhanding out Bulls vs. Suns tickets in person at the corner of 24th and Camelback in Phoenix. The personal touch Shaq gives to his social media efforts, along with his new role as a commentator on TNT’s Inside the NBA, ensure he will be casting a sizable shadow for years to come. Justin W. Sanders caught up with the big man and discuss personal branding, pursu-ing higher education and creating the “real” Shaq. Shaquille O’Neal: J dog, what’s up baby? What’s up? It’s great to talk to you. To start, can you elaborate on your personal brand a bit? How have you gone about developing it? O’Neal: Well, my brand was created in 1989 in high school when I saw the Michael Jordan emblem. If you look at his emblem, he’s dunking with his legs spread out. But if you look at my Dunkman emblem, that’s how I used to dunk, with both my legs out. So then, I looked at all the top players and I said, “Okay, why do we like Magic Johnson?” The way he smiles. “Why do we like Michael Jordan? ‘Cuz he’s a dominant player. It was a stigma that big men didn’t sell, [but I knew] if I added a mixture of Jordan and Magic, plus my silly, juvenile delinquent personality, that the people would have to take a liking to me. Now, the only reason why my brand works is because it’s real life, it’s true to life. There has been a lot of people who tried to create their brand from scratch, but not really being true to their brand, and that always catches up with them one day. But with me, what you see is what you get. I don’t use the term “role model.” If you look up “role” in the dictionary, it says you’re playing a part. I like using the term “real model” – what you see is what you get. My brand works because people know it’s real, and they know it’s touchable. They know that without even seeing the commercials I do and watching me on TV. They know if they see me in themall, they can ask me for an auto-graph and there’ll be 80 percent chance I’ll say “Yeah,” the 20 percent, “I can’t do right now – maybe next time.” I’m not one of those big-time superstars that you can’t talk to. C 19 SPRING 2012

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