'The One Thing Athletes Should Be Doing Is Telling Their Story'
As Player Manager at the NFL Players Association, Dior Ginyard assists NFL players as they transition in, through and beyond their professional playing careers. He has also been recognized in Forbes' "30 Under 30" under the sports category.
Dior, what are you most excited about today?
What I’m most excited about today is being in a position to affect change in a player’s life. I have the opportunity to build relationships with players all around the NFL and assist them with what I think will last far beyond their playing days.
Since being honored by Forbes on their 2018 top 30 Under 30 list, a ton of opportunities have come my way. So I’ve basically run the gauntlet in terms of media and speaking opportunities.
Beyond that, I love that I can use my platform and encourage another young boy or girl to keep pressing towards their goals and dreams. That being said, I’ve spent the last couple of months visiting my old high school and college, speaking with some of the students.
How does Dior define an epic athlete brand?
The best way I can describe an epic athlete brand is in one word: real. I love when an athlete is confident in who they are, away from the game, because I believe it screams authenticity. People appreciate authenticity, whether they agree with you or not.
When an athlete truly owns who they are and what they're passionate about, they're brand becomes a bit organic and fluent, not forced. When an athlete's brand is real and transparent, you notice it and follow it — and that's epic.
What's your favorite athlete brand at the moment, and why?
My favorite athlete brand at the moment is JuJu Smith-Schuster. I think the first time I became intrigued by JuJu's brand is when he turned a negative situation of his bike being stolen, into a positive. He even got his own bobblehead with him on a bike.
JuJu’s brand has taken off over the past year because he's owned who he is and what he's passionate about. He’s done a great job of utilizing his social media channels to keeps fans engaged about what he's doing off the field.
I think that's important and I think more fans are becoming intrigued by what an NFL player does off the field. JuJu isn't your quintessential "superstar" yet, but his brand is taking him their because he's fine with being himself, he's fine with being transparent, and because of that, fans have shown that they appreciate his authenticity.
What makes JuJu's brand so unique and well-received is his ability to engage athletes across other sports. One example of that is when he actively recruited LeBron James to the Steelers. He even went as far as showing up to an NBA game LeBron played in — how epic is that!
Lastly, JuJu has mastered the ability to stay current. He’s shown this with things like Fortnite, where he played Drake and Travis Scott in the game.
When you look across the athlete brand landscape, what's the one thing you think more athletes should be doing?
The one thing athletes should be doing is telling their story. Gone are the days of athletes relying strictly on traditional media outlets to tell their story. Fans have shown that they want to hear directly from their favorite athletes.
If you look on Twitter, for example, some of your favorite athletes have more followers than some of the top brands in the world! Fans have shown they're basically cutting out the middle man and going straight to the source. That's why I love what companies like The Players’ Tribune are doing and the platform they're providing for athletes to tell their story.
What’s your best advice for athletes who want to kickstart their personal brands?
My best piece of advice would be for athletes to educate themselves on personal branding early in their career. The average NFL career is around three-and-a-half years, so athletes have a short window of time essentially to educate themselves on personal branding, establish what that brand is, and then begin acting on it.
The positive part about this is that, although an athlete's career can be somewhat short, an epic personal brand can last a lifetime.
What’s the number-one tool you’re using right now?
Slack. It's easy to use and more efficient for me when sending documents to coworkers.
Based on your knowledge and expertise, what's the future of athlete branding and marketing?
The future of athlete branding and marketing will rely heavily on the usage of social media, and I believe sponsors are seeing that. Fans are showing that they would rather go to an athlete's social media channel than to that of a sponsor, so what does that look like from a digital marketing perspective?