Pliable is Helping Athletes Build their Brand and Navigate NIL
Greg Glynn is the Founder & CEO of Pliable, a U.S-based marketing, public relations and broadcasting company that helps high school, college and professional athletes build their brand. He has more than 20 years of experience in the communications and sports industry. Glynn has received his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) through the Public Relations Society of America and is one of only 5,000 professionals nationally accredited in the field of public relations.
Glynn has extensive media relations experience as a reporter, producer, and sports broadcaster. During his career, he has worked with a wide range of high school, college, professional, and retired athletes.
He is also the host of The Athlete Brand Advisor Podcast. For more information, visit PliableMarketing.com.
Here we sit down with Greg, to know a bit more about his journey as a marketing expert.
Q. Tell us a little more about your journey as an entrepreneur — how did you get started?
Greg: I grew up around sports from day one. Before I came home from the hospital, my dad took me to the local tennis club to meet his friends and other elite tennis players. Since then, I have always been around sports. My Dad was a hockey agent and created his own marketing company. My Mom was and still is a life-long educator having taught at some of the top colleges in Massachusetts.
I played several sports through high school until a back injury ended my hockey career. I then used my passion for sports to start my broadcasting career and attended Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
At Quinnipiac, I honed my skills in marketing, public relations, and broadcasting where I studied broadcast journalism and minored in marketing. Upon graduation, I was hired by the Portland Pirates (AHL) as the team’s broadcaster. In addition to broadcasting hockey games, I eventually became the Vice President of Communications for team.
Following a major back surgery in 2008, I later joined Marshall Communications, a public relations firm in Augusta, Maine. In 2016, I earned my national accreditation in public relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), becoming one of nearly 5,000 individuals in the country to earn the honor.
By 2021, I had gained extensive experience in marketing, public relations, and broadcasting. During the pandemic, I refocused my priorities around my family and the future of my career. I knew three things, I wanted to always be there for my daughter and important moments in her life, get back into sports, and that the business world was going to change and adapt coming out of the pandemic. I made a big decision and left Marshall Communications to create my own company called Pliable.
Prior to starting my company, I had started using the TB12 Method and my company’s name, Pliable, was inspired by NFL superstar Tom Brady and the concept of muscle pliability. I saw similarities in body pliability with the communications industry and the fact that people were going to need to change and adapt, thus being more pliable coming out of the pandemic.
The ability to change and adapt to each athlete’s and individual needs and goals drive the way I do business. Using the latest marketing, public relations, and broadcasting techniques, Pliable offers a new approach with a wide range of services to meet clients’ ever-changing needs, thus helping them become more pliable. I also created Pliable’s 10-Step Athlete Branding Playbook, recognized as one of the industry’s most forward-thinking ideas for athletes to acquire the skills and tools to build their brand. Learn more at PliableMarketing.com/Athlete.
Q. What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Greg: It is so important for entrepreneurs to stay organized and stay focused. It can be easy to get distracted by every opportunity that comes your way. It is critical to set clear, well-defined short-term and long-term goals. This helps me and my business team and clients stay laser-focused on what we can accomplish together.
As a business owner, you have to use technology to your advantage. At Pliable, any information that I need, or my clients need is always accessible remotely. This is one thing that the pandemic taught business owners; with the right tools and strategies, you can work from anywhere. I travel a lot to support Pliable athletes, so having information about all my clients at my fingertips is critical, as well as keeping a really organized and realistic calendar.
Q. Share background on how and why you started your business.
Greg: During the pandemic, I realized the world was going to change. It wasn’t going to be business as usual. I was working from home and had always thought about starting my own business. Then the ruling in the Supreme Court made it possible for college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness and that really made me evaluate things and how this could be a huge opportunity for me to use all the marketing, PR, and broadcasting skills I have and apply all of it to directly help athletes.
As a result, I founded Pliable, a versatile marketing, public relations, and broadcasting company. I created the company coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic as people and businesses realized they needed to be more pliable, bending and extending the limits of what is possible.
The biggest factor in why I started my own company undoubtedly came from the Supreme Court ruling in June 2021 about college athletes being able to benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). This was an opportunity for me to take everything I had learned in more than 20 years of marketing, PR, and broadcasting and apply it directly to help athletes market themselves. This will be an incredible opportunity to educate and empower athletes to pursue their career goals.
In high school, athletes need to market themselves to colleges and try to get scholarships. I have seen and heard from many parents and athletes that they feel like they aren’t getting noticed and that’s where I can help provide the skills and tools to make the athlete a lot more marketable, including things like a powerful recruitment video, media training, message mapping, and a website.
In college, athletes can now benefit and receive compensation for the use of their name image, and likeness, so this is a huge area for education and growth for college athletes. In some cases, athletes can now pay for college with NIL opportunities. Athletes need help with how to build their brand, utilize social media the right way and get endorsement opportunities and build their network during and after their career.
At the pro level, athletes need to stand out and utilize their platform to get more endorsements, support their most passionate causes and at the end of the day, make themselves marketable during and after their playing career. The transition out of sports can be very hard if you don’t have a strong brand and a good game plan.
Q. How do you stay organized with such a busy schedule? What are some time management strategies, SOPS (standard operating procedures), hires, or hacks that have helped you dramatically in business?
Greg: I try to document everything. Having checklists and standard operating procedures is not only the best way to replicate quality work, but it also saves countless hours for other members of my team that might need to complete the same tasks.
I look at hospital emergency rooms as a great example of how to run a business. Have you ever been in a disorganized doctor’s office or emergency room? Probably not. The reason is that they are in situations every day where if they aren’t organized or efficient, it is a life-and-death situation.
Q. Tell us what prompted you to become an entrepreneur. We’d love to learn more about what drives you!
Greg: As an athlete, and having worked in sports my entire life, I have seen how hard athletes work, day in and day out. I have also observed that they don’t get some of the life skills and training that could really help them during and after their career. In some cases, if they never acquire these skills then they might not make it to the next level in their career.
Every day, I am motivated by the opportunity to educate and empower athletes to go after their career dreams. Part of that is because I never had a chance to play professional sports. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of passion, so that’s why I share my passion with other athletes to help them, it’s what I love to do.
The other very important thing to me about Pliable is to empower young female athletes. As a father of a 10-year-old girl, I have seen the inequality in sports. I have already seen it with the female athletes that I work with, and it is unacceptable. When I founded Pliable, I immediately created Mission E50.
Mission E50 is an initiative I created to increase the popularity of women’s sports by empowering female athletes to go after their dreams.
The “E” stands for equal opportunity for female athletes. The number “50” represents Pliable’s commitment to representing a client list of more than 50% female athletes. The Mission E50 logo also has a white equal sign in the middle of the E and 50 as a reminder about the importance of equal opportunity in sports.
The growth and development of female athletes since Title IX have been extraordinary. Specifically in the past 5 to 10 years, there has been a dramatic shift in the overall talent level and growth of all women’s sports. This is a credit to all the female athletes and role models who have inspired the next generation and raised the bar for what is possible.
Mission E50 was inspired by my love for my daughter Kelsey and what she has experienced in sports, I created the Mission E50 initiative in her honor. As a result, Pliable and its athletes and partners are committed to pursuing opportunities that will help female athletes build their athlete brand and increase the popularity of women’s sports.
As a broadcaster, I have called more than 1,000 games for a wide range of sports, including basketball, field hockey, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, track and field, and volleyball. He has seen the growth of women’s sports firsthand.
The next generation of female athletes is coming. These young female athletes have been inspired by the trailblazing women who have come before them. They are going to continue to show the world what they can do and it’s going to elevate sports at all levels.
I strongly believe that as more female athletes build their athlete brand, more fans and young girls will be attracted to the female athletes and the sports they play.
Pliable’s first athlete client was Kaylyn Bourque, an elite female hockey player from Maine. To this day, Pliable has represented more female athletes than male athletes.
Pliable is proud to have pledged to support The Equity Project™. The project is powered by the Women’s Sports Foundation and is a movement of individuals and organizations that aims to impact participation, policy, representation, and leadership in sports in sustainable and measurable ways. The vision is clear: inspire the nation and create meaningful change so that all girls and women have equitable access to physical activity and sport, to help unlock limitless possibilities in their lives.
Q. If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
Greg: Increase kindness, more equality in sports, and More media coverage about positive stories.
Q. Share your most impressive and memorable success story to-date. Don’t forget the basics: who, what, when, where, why and how.
Greg: In 2021, through my broadcasting work in Maine, I met Brian Bourque, Owner of Epic Vue Studios, a marketing and video production company in Benton, Maine. I was broadcasting high school hockey games for his company and as fate would have it, I broadcast an ice hockey game featuring his daughter, Kaylyn, an elite high school ice hockey player.
When I started Pliable, Brian and I talked about Kaylyn, and both had the sense that this was the perfect time for Pliable to help Kaylyn build her athlete brand. A few months later, Kaylyn became the first athlete in the country to complete Pliable’s 10-Step Athlete Branding Playbook. This past season, she led the state in goal scoring and is already getting looks from Division 1 colleges because of her outstanding skill and work she has done to make herself marketable.
As it turns out, Kaylyn has an older sister Alyssa. Alyssa is a track and field athlete at the University of Vermont. When I told Brian about the work I was doing with college athletes and NIL opportunities, we realized Alyssa would be the perfect person to be the first college athlete for Pliable to work with for NIL representation.
The Bourque sisters’ story is a story about the value of relationships, opportunity and the passion to pursue your dreams. It has been incredible to be able to work with both Kaylyn and Alyssa and they are great ambassadors for the growth of women’s sports and Mission E50. I am so grateful to have met the Bourque family, including Brian, his wife Cathy and their son, Ryan.
Q. If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Greg: How to be a Pliable Athlete and Win at Life.
Q. What motivates you?
Greg: Myself, my 10-year-old daughter, my family and friends, and the pursuit of perfection. I am also fueled by bringing innovative branding ideas to my clients to make them stand out.
Q. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Greg: The decision and investment I made in myself to start my own business. I always believed I could do it and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Financially, one of my best investments I have made was to join Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW). Dr. Lynn Lashbrook and his team are incredible. The opportunities that will come from working with him and his network will be tremendous. I am excited to attend the NHL Draft with him and network with some of the most influential people in the world of hockey.
Q. What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
Greg: I would invest in creating organizational systems. If you aren’t a person who is naturally organized, hire someone to help. Organization is the key to success. I had a friend say to me once, “Greg, the difference between you in me is that if you make a list of 100 things, you will accomplish all 100 things on the list.”
Q. What is your ‘one-sentence’ piece of advice you’d like to give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur, coach or business owner?
Greg: There are three things you can control in life, your attitude, gratitude, and effort.