The Publicist Behind a Professional Footballer; Interview with Jeremy Pond

It’s not often a request is submitted to a publicist for an interview – for the publicist, that is. Business of Soccer reached out to Jeremy Pond, publicist for Sunderland AFC and U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jozy Altidore and Director of Media and Public Relations for the Jozy Altidore Foundation.

Jeremy Pond with Jozy Altidore on the set of ESPN. Photo obtained from Twitter / @JeremyPond

Jeremy Pond with Jozy Altidore on the set of ESPN. Photo obtained from Twitter / @JeremyPond

Behind the scenes of a professional footballer lies an agent and a publicist. The successes and failures for both is directly related to a player’s actions and performance on and off the pitch. It is as much about managing the impact and effects of that player’s personality as it about the expectations that  the client remains professional in all facets of his or her career.

Needless to say, Jeremy Pond may have it easier than others. As the publicist behind Jozy Altidore, it is not to say that his profession is easy but rather his client’s ability to maintain a positive image is a key element to the challenges faced by Pond. At first thought, the term ‘challenges’ tends to have a negative connotation.

For a footballer whose career is improving, Pond’s challenges are quite the opposite – particularly after last night’s performance for Altidore and the U.S. Men’s National Team in Sarajevo versus Bosnia-Herzegovina. Pond was thrilled with what he witnessed, knowing his client had set him up for what was to become a busy week for requests. Both Altidore and Pond are no strangers to endorsement deals and media requests. In fact, they have become a part of their weekly routine.

The less he has to worry about off the field and the less issues there are off the field for him, the better – that is where he and I are great as a partnership.

Pond has been Altidore’s publicist for less than two years, but look how Altidore’s career and performance have improved. From Alkmaar to Sunderland to the U.S Men’s National Team, Altidore has positioned himself as a critical piece to his club and national teams’ successes, as well as the success of his personal brand.

From when I started with him almost a year and a half going on two years, he needed someone to specifically handle his media requests that were coming in because when he was with Alkmaar in the Netherlands, it was tougher for the U.S. media, primarily to access him in a timely fashion to get what they need.

Altidore’s travels do not come without potential hurdles for Pond. The subject of racism in soccer has been in the headlines all too often and Pond’s client has been an unfortunate target. It is such times that test the character of an individual regardless whether the actions are provoked (read: in this instance, not). It has become a problem throughout the global footballing world and one addressed by Major League Soccer and FIFA, alike.

READ: MLS W.O.R.K.S Don’t Cross the Line Campaign

For Pond, it was yet another area of his client’s character that he could be proud of. Having dealt with the racist remarks and moving past the ignorance of fans attending matches overseas, Altidore was asked to join FIFA’s newly established Anti-Racism Task Force. Alongside Kevin-Prince Boateng of A.C. Milan and Ghana, the pair are the only two players that are part of the committee – both experiencing incidents of racism while on the pitch.

It all stems from the fact that he was racially taunted during the [FC] Den Bosch match during the Dutch Cup in Den Bosch. The way he handled himself post-match in the interview, that’s where he got the rave reviews – that’s who Jozy is. Not just on the field, people saw what he was like off the field. I’m telling you, the young man is 23 years old but he’s 40 years old in terms of his maturity.

READ: FIFA Against Discrimination and Say No To Racism Campaign

Off the pitch, Pond and Altidore are also focused on their philanthropic efforts with the Jozy Altidore Foundation. The organization, which Pond serves as the Director of Media & Public Relations, was created to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

He needed someone to help with the restructuring of his foundation – that was a huge focus for him, getting his foundation rolling along and getting it producing in terms of donors, events, and projects that can benefit the community not only here but in Haiti, which is where his parents were born and raised.

READ: Jozy Altidore Foundation – Benefiting Underprivileged Children

Pond spoke highly of the relationships he has developed at Alkmaar and Sunderland. Like any good partnership, the ability to place reliance and trust in one another is critical. With Pond based in the United States and Altidore then in the Netherlands and now England, he is dependent on these partnerships to ensure his client to receiving the deserved publicity as well as his time being managed between training and other facets of his daily routine.

When you go from one team to another, you are cautiously optimistic it is going to be as good as it was with the past team. Fortunately, going from Alkmaar to Sunderland has been a very easy, simple transition in regard to my partnerships with their respective communications departments. They are both first-class departments.

With NBC Sports purchasing the rights to broadcast Barclays Premier League matches in the United States, Altidore’s exposure is expected to significantly increase during the 2013-2014 season and, with that, an increase in requests for Altidore.  As a former sports columnist and entertainment reporter, Pond’s career has provided him with many experiences. His passion for writing and role with the Jozy Altidore Foundation allows him to continue writing press releases while focusing on his role as a publicist and partnership with Altidore.

What do you think about the role of a publicist for a professional footballer? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.