A Public Relations strategy that worked: Getting the Nets to Brooklyn ... and Bruce Ratner's reputation back?

Bruce Bennett

PR Week, the magazine for public relations professionals has a lengthy piece on the p.r. strategy behind getting the Nets to Brooklyn, using the Nets (and Barclays Center) chief communications officer, Barry Baum, as its lead character, and also subtly adding to what is an ongoing rehabilitation of Bruce Ratner's reputation.

Baum, a former Knick ballboy and New York Post reporter, has been crucial through the whole process and he talks a lot about the arena's close calls with failure, including the 2008 recession and the delaying tactics of the critics who lodged 10 lawsuits that required 35 separate decisions and rulings by state and federal courts, all but one of which they won. He also talks about how Ratner, who took a lot of criticism, much of it personal, from the critics ... and Nets fans, never gave up.

"Bruce was never going to relent," notes Baum. "He was determined. Every Tuesday morning at a meeting with the top people at Forest City he would end the meeting with ‘Don't worry, we will figure it out.' He gave everyone a lot of confidence. You never stopped believing because of him."

For diehard Nets fans, particularly those who have followed the team from New Jersey, Ratner will always be a controversial figure. Trading Kenyon Martin, cutting costs as revenues fell, the replacement jerseys, the endless court fights, 12-70, are all associated with him. It will take a while to forget, for some longer to forgive.

But at the same time, the developer recruited Mikhail Prokhorov; got the arena built; and along with Prokhorov, Brett Yormark and Jay-Z turned the Nets from a laughingstock into arguably the coolest team in the NBA ... that last accomplishment in a matter of months and, to be quite frank, unimaginable just a few months ago. Oh yeah, they're also 11-5.

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