Our company’s long-lasting relationship with Bud Adams and the Tennessee Oilers/Titans started quietly with a couple of phone calls and then a hastily called meeting in a Memphis hotel room before an Oilers game in Memphis against the Washington Redskins in 1997.

My partners Mark McNeely and Dave Cooley were at the meeting at the Memphis Hilton, and Mr. Adams, who died on Monday at age 90, made the decision that day to hire a public relations firm for the first time in his nearly 50 years as a professional football team owner.

His predicament at the time was simple: The decision had been made for his team to leave Houston after the 1996 season and play in Memphis for two seasons while Nashville built the team a new permanent stadium. McNeely Pigott & Fox had overseen the successful referendum campaign for approval of the Nashville stadium’s bonds, so we were familiar both with the project and with many of the members of the Oilers executive team.

The problem with having Memphis serve as the team’s temporary home was that the people there had wanted an NFL team of their own rather than to serve as babysitter for Nashville’s team. The result was that Mr. Adams was reviled by many in Houston for taking the team away, unwanted in Memphis because he wasn’t moving there permanently, and distrusted by some in Nashville after a hotly contested stadium debate.

I became involved in many of the steps after our hiring, and we have proudly worked with the team ever since. The immediate steps after that Memphis meeting were our helping with announcing that the team would arrive in Nashville a year earlier than originally planned, assisting with drawing a good crowd to their first game at their new temporary home at Vanderbilt stadium, and helping to get Mr. Adams in front of as many people as possible in Nashville to let them get to know him.

We oversaw the polling and analysis that led to Mr. Adams’ reluctant decision to change the name from Oilers to Titans, and we worked on many other projects with his quality senior staff.

Though a demanding boss sometimes, Mr. Adams could also be a real charmer and was great at telling stories from his many decades in professional football. His team has played to a sellout crowd at every game since LP Field opened.

He was controversial at times, but his record speaks for itself: Nashville is a far greater city overall because former Mayor Phil Bredesen and Bud Adams worked out a way to bring an NFL team here. I would contend he never put making money ahead of trying to make his team better. And his team has been generous in helping our city’s charitable organizations.

MP&F is proud to have “played for” Bud Adams.

The Nashville Scene spoofs Bud Adams' hiring of MP&F in 1997.

The Nashville Scene spoofs Bud Adams’ hiring of MP&F in 1997.

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By Maggie Bowers

If you were out and about downtown Nashville last Friday, you may have noticed a little more hustle and bustle than usual. Clusters of camera-happy people flocked around Music City, stopping every few blocks to snap a photo with an Elvis statue or to sing on stage at one of Broadway’s famous honky-tonks.

But these were no tourists. They were MP&F staffers, competing in a companywide scavenger hunt for our annual midyear retreat.

One of my favorite team photos from the scavenger hunt. As you can see, Roger really got off the ground.

I didn’t know what to expect for my first MP&F retreat, though I had heard the legends of past years’ antics. It was a blast. I had fun with my colleagues, gained new insights into the firm’s history and culture, and learned what makes McNeely Pigott & Fox different from any other company. Mainly, though, the retreat reinforced what I already knew: that MP&F is a great place to work.

Last week, partner David Fox explained in his blog that retreats are a fundamental part of creating a great workplace. From telling stories to setting goals, every retreat activity helps strengthen our company culture. The scavenger hunt exemplified one of the tenets of that culture, which is teamwork.

Coming from a highly competitive environment like Vanderbilt, I’ll admit that it’s refreshing to know I’m working with my colleagues and not against them. Our greatest work, like a scavenger hunt, results from the collaboration and creativity of many. To jump-start ideas for pitches and rebranding campaigns, we invite the whole office to a brainstorm. And everything we write goes through a routing process: from copy editor to team leader, to partner, to proofreader.

MP&F staff associates in the Tennessee Titans’ locker room

Retreats are important for building camaraderie and boosting morale. Every once in a while, it’s necessary to recharge and just have fun – because great team chemistry on our end leads to a “win” on the client end.

Retreat was also a time to talk business strategy. Mark McNeely gave a financial overview of the year so far, and the partners answered anonymous questions that staffers had submitted throughout the week. As a new staff associate, I appreciated this effort to be transparent and to make sure we’re all on the same page with the company’s goals.

Most important, the retreat highlighted MP&F’s commitment to building strong relationships with our clients and our community. We spent the afternoon at LP Field, where we received an enthusiastic welcome from Don MacLachlan, the executive vice president of administration and facilities for the Tennessee Titans. Don greeted several of the partners with bear hugs, as longtime friends would do. He talked about his history working with MP&F, occasionally turning to Mike Pigott to ask, “Isn’t that right, Bro Pigott?”

MP&F partners with Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities for the Tennessee Titans.

Later, we watched a video featuring clients, former employees and prominent Nashville leaders – all wishing MP&F a happy 25th anniversary. At that moment, I felt proud to be associated with a company that has earned the respect of so many and has shaped Nashville into the city it is today. I realized that relationships are at the heart of what we do and why we have been so successful over the past 25 years.

And that’s why I know I’m at the right place.