Tigers working on 'personal branding'
Launching the pilot of the NRL's Personal Branding program, eight Wests Tigers players are currently undergoing a six-week course to improve their standing in the game.
The brainchild of Wests Tigers' Education and Welfare co-ordinator Debbie Brewin, Tigers players – including self-confessed "social butterfly" Martin Taupau, Luke Brooks and James Tedesco – are four weeks into the program having already delved into lessons of their own image, social etiquette, dining etiquette and networking.
With lessons to follow in public speaking and social media over the next fortnight, Taupau especially – who is widely known as 'Kapow' such is his standing in the game – is hoping to add to his "constant" efforts of improving his own personal brand.
"I work on many things to improve myself and my brand. I'm getting it out there, and trying to get the right message across, because there's a perception out there of Marty Taupau being grubby and just a footballer," Taupau told NRL.com following a networking lunch on Tuesday with Tigers sponsors, board members and stakeholders.
"But behind all that there's much more to myself being a footballer. That's up to everyone now to find out for themselves. There are opportunities where you can work amongst charities, and be on television or radio, so there are many things I'm working on to get my brand out there.
"For a few of the young boys here too it gives them a baseline on how to go about carrying themselves as a product, a player and a brand as well as in front of sponsors, corporate events and nice, sparkling functions. It is a really good program to be a part of."
In his work with the NRL's Education and Welfare department, former Raiders legend Alan Tongue has jumped on board to help steer the program in the right direction and insisted they aren't trying to change the personalities of players rather than occupy them with tools to better themselves and their brand.
"We want to help mould, shape and educate them in terms of what to do in different settings. It's about making them comfortable, it's not about what knife or fork they have to use or what side the glass needs to be on," Tongue told NRL.com.
"I came into the NRL as a 20-year-old, I've learnt as much as anybody else has as a 34-year-old from this program. We understand that not only does it improve a player's profile, image and brand – it also improves the club and all in all it also improves the NRL's brand too."
Running through the make-up of the program, Tongue revealed an orientation for the Tigers players involved them Googling themselves.
"We had a chat with the guys to tell us what they thought their image was and then we made them talk about what their teammates images were. Then we got them to Google themselves and pick out five different stories and have a look at what the public perception is of them," Tongue said.
"We get an opportunity to shape that sometimes, there are some people in the media who can bring you down, and sometimes our actions let ourselves down too. But we have an opportunity to improve our image. It's really important for this program to run because it'll help them understand what their image is and how we can make it better for the future."
Tongue too was hopeful the program will be picked up and utilised gamewide.
"I think it'll be a worthwhile cause for all the clubs to do this. We haven't made it perfect yet," he said.
"We'll need to deliver it in its entirety to start off and go back and talk with everyone who's involved with it, get some feedback, work out what we can expand on and what can we take away from it so we can help a lot of people in our game."