NFL Crisis Management

The NFL has had a myriad of crises in the last few years. When I was asked to pick a crisis to talk about, there were almost too many football crises to choose from, from Michael Vick’s dogfighting scandal, to Ray Rice’s domestic abuse video, to Adrian Peterson’s child abuse, to “DeflateGate”,  and even the Washington Redskins insistence on keeping their racist and bigoted team name and mascot. However, the most prevalent crisis in the NFL is what continues to plague them today, and will for the foreseeable future, player concussions.

It is not necessarily surprising that gigantic men who collide with each other constantly over an almost 3 hour period are going to suffer from some head injuries, well, unless you are making public statements from the NFL that is, as Paul Tagliabue, former NFL Commissioner, recently “Concussions is one of these pack journalism issues, frankly… the number is relatively small.  The problem is, it is a journalistic issue.” Although this is just one, it is representative of a larger pattern of the NFL’s attitude on this issue. This is a great example of poor crisis management. As the NFL in this case does not address the severity of the problem that they are presented and makes the media their enemy, something that can never be to your advantage through the lens of PR. The NFL refuses to take responsibility for this issue, dismisses it as journalistic fear mongering, which ultimately reflects on a lack of sympathy and empathy for players whose future health and well-being is at stake.

Ideally, in this situation the NFL makes a general statement including their desire to keep the game safe and that they will conduct a scientific investigation on the prevalence of concussions in the NFL and any possible ways to reduce them. However, the NFL did not do this, and instead covered up the health dangers for their players. When a crisis occurs, it is always important to come at your audience with a sense of regret, sympathy, and empathy. However, the NFL blatantly disregards this and instead chose to come at the situation with a sense of pretentious, hostile apathy. This attitude has been compared to the way that cigarette companies ignored and disregarded the links between cigarettes and cancer (Dabscheck, 2014).

However, after this information had come to light, the NFL conceded that although concussions may occur rather frequently, that they were not serious, despite mountains of scientific and medical research that completely contradicted those claims, ” These consequences can include motor, cognitive, and behavioural impairment sometimes associated with the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)” (Nierengarten, 2011)

So to recap, so far the NFL has shown an almost amazing disregard for the media, demonizing them and accusing them of fear-mongering, showing what was earlier described as a pretentious, hostile apathy. It appears as though the PR team for the NFL looked at a how-to guide for crisis management, and decided to do everything the opposite. When ESPN approached them with the intent to be their ally in this case(after all they have a lot of stake in the continued success of the NFL) the NFL refused to comment and was quoted several times during the outbreak and development of this story with poor statements like, “no comment,” or “we will not have any comments today” do almost only harm. (Marketing Communications Collective) Refusing to talk about the situation only makes the audience more suspicious and distrustful of the brand.

It is almost hard to call this a case of poor crisis management, because one has to reasonably ask the question; did the NFL even attempt to manage this crisis?

References:

Dabscheck, B. (2014). League of denial: The NFL, concussions and the battle for the truth. Labour & Industry: A Journal of the Social and Economic Relations of Work, 24(2), 161-163. doi:10.1080/10301763.2014.91579

Marketing Communications Collective. (September 10, 2014). Crisis management, nfl style. https://lgkmarketingmatters.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/crisis-management-nfl-style/

Nierengarten, M. B. (2011). Neurologists weigh in on sports-related concussions. Lancet Neurology, 10(4), 302-303. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(11)70058-8

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NFL Crisis Management

PR: Why Research At All?

Knowledge is power. Using this old adage as a guide, the more you know in the PR world, the better you can do your job.  As technology improves and knowledge becomes easier and easier to attain, it becomes much more important to know more. As the world innovates, PR can innovate along with it.

Things happen very quickly in the world of Public Relations. As a result of this fast moving world, it is important to be prepared for anything. There isn’t always time to lay a foundation after things happen, a lot of times you have to be prepared for any situation, so, when a crisis happens, you have the knowledge to take care of it effectively and efficiently.  “No matter what level employee you are – from interns to senior account executives –every decision you make has an impact on your team. With that said, research is critical to making informed decisions,” (Sanchez, 2013)  It is incumbent upon us all when working in Public Relations to use every piece of relevant information attainable to make the best and most responsible decisions that put us or our clients in the most advantageous positions. Doing research puts us in the position to make intelligent and informed decisions quickly. Since it is hard to predict crises, creating the best and most functional foundation for management may be a lot of extra work, but when the inevitable crisis hits, it can reduce stress and make the management of the situation much easier to deal with. Like Laurel English stated in her paper titled, Public Relations in the Real World or Business “Public relations research provides the foundation for almost everything communicators do”(English, n.d.).

Not only does research allow us to make more responsible and informed decisions, it also allows us to grow and innovate Public Relations. We can research current events and understand how they relate to our clients brands and goals, or we can do research to do see how similar PR firms have handled similar situations with comparable brands. By employing this strategy into our research, we are able to innovate the PR world by constantly improving common practices. The blog Progression from Publicity writes the following, “Nestle lost the trust of its publics because of boycotts promoted by interest groups. Nestle did not address the issue until years later. Nestle worked with the National Association of Infant Food Manufactures to end all supplies of infant formula in developing countries and to be continuously committed to ending free baby food supplies to hospitals of third world countries”  (Smith, 2001). If a client came to a PR with a comparable product issue, we could use this as a precedent to show the client how not to act. In this example, Nestle avoided the media and avoided the problem. However, this was shown to be an ineffective and maybe even destructive tactic. Since we have this knowledge today, we know that there are much more effective tactics and strategies to deal with customer issues in a Public Relations arena. However, if a client came to us and we had neglected research, we might be prone to make the same mistakes as previous PR firms had made. Research can be extremely effective to innovate the PR world due to technological improvements and the increased ease of acquisition of information.

References:

English, L. (n.d.). Public relations research in the real world of business. English Communications. Retrieved from http://www.english-communications.com/downloads/WP_Research_chapter.pdf

Sanchez, C. (2013, September 24). 3 Reasons why research is crucial to effective public relations. Retrieved from http://www.webershandwickseattle.com/2013/09/3-reasons-why-research-is-crucial-to-effective-public-relations/

Smith, J. (n.d.).  Research becomes important. Progression from publicity. Retrieved from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/jsmith/cocoon.html

PR: Why Research At All?

Pre PR Reflection

When I was a senior in high school, I had my first PR internship. The firm I worked at was hired to work on two separate political campaigns throughout the year. The first one was to coordinate the campaign. During this process I created literature and delivered them to possible constituents. I would also help to plan several different events and fundraisers for the candidate. The second client hired as an extension of their campaign to work on fundraising and community engagement. I spent a lot of time calling names from a list and asking for money, as well a lot of time planning events and fundraisers. I was given a unique opportunity to work at a small understaffed and quickly growing PR firm. I was given responsibility that under normal circumstances I would not have had and as a result I learned a lot and was given the opportunity to gain real experience as a very young high school student.

I currently work for a PR firm based out of downtown Detroit. We service mainly high profile professional athletes. My job at the PR firm is to work with clients on their brands and social media management. During the summer I worked in the office and attended client meetings, however now that I am at school, I work off my computer. This job has definitely taught me a lot about PR. When I envisioned PR before, I thought about a bunch of frantic people doing a hundred things at a time. In my experiences, I view PR as a job that requires a lot of organization, a commitment to meticulous planning, and a dedication to being the most educated person in the room. Due to the geographic positions and interests of my clients, most of the time I am working is spent doing research. I set up an email exclusively for google alerts of my clients. I spend roughly 5 to 10 hours a week just reading about my clients and their personal and professional interests. As their brand manager it is my job to know all about current events and deal with them all accordingly.

I spent a lot of time with one client in particular this summer. He was being featured on a documentary series on CNN. The show attempted to find the most inspiring entrepreneur in the country. After a few meetings we talked about strategies to propel his brand and increase his platform. Through research we found the times at which his twitter following was most active and which tweets were performing the best and we targeted those times to get people thinking about his company and to get them to support his brand. This client in particular taught me quite a bit. He asked me to deliver a unique PR campaign because he was a unique person with a unique business and a unique goal. Even though it wasn’t always easy and we didn’t always agree on different strategies, we were eventually able to figure out an effective strategy to grow his brand while staying true to his values.

I am very excited for this class. I think that CAP 220 can strengthen my foundation and give me the tools to perform my job better. Although I have about 3 years of experience working in PR, most of that experience has been in places where I wasn’t prepared or trained for the jobs I was doing. Through hard work I taught myself a lot, but this class will hopefully give me the opportunity to do my job better and more efficiently.

Pre PR Reflection

The future of Collaboration

The current workplace system consists of a bunch of people working together in an office to complete a specific project. However I think that this process will change quite quickly with the advent of social media and technology. The new social media and technology is shrinking the world. It allows me to collaborate with someone halfway across the world and be as effective and efficient as working with someone who works in the same office as I do. We can video chat, share documents, use the cloud, all of these things allow us to share information and work in ways that were impossible before.

The shrinking world will eliminate a lot of the bad businesses and firms that exist. Thus, collaboration will occur between business and client from great lengths. The idea of a “virtual team” will be critical to almost anyone a part of the workforce in the near future. People will need to be more efficient and have a higher quality finished product if they want to be successful. The ability to adapt will be the biggest skill for any future worker. When collaborating with other people it will be imperative to grow with the field, whatever it may be, and be able to work with anyone around the world. The virtual team concept is expounded upon by Michael Watkins, he talks about the need for balance between reliance on technology in relation to legitimate face to face communication. I find Watkins argument on this to be faulty. I think that this style of collaboration will save businesses so much money that they will be unwilling to invest the proper funds to make their virtual team meet in person to get a feel for each other. I think that it is much more likely that this initial meeting will turn into a meeting on Skype or a similar network and each member will dedicate an hour or so to get know each other and assign roles to complete the task.

Getty Images            Technological breakthroughs will without a doubt determine the future of collaboration. The more networks we have available to us the more we get to broadcast our thoughts and ideas. This is crucial to the idea of collaboration. The more people we have that can comment and provide juxtaposition to our original idea the more we are forced to think about our ideas. The more we think about our ideas, the more educated and intelligent we become. This concept alone will strengthen collaboration. Mike Schnaffner says that, “Collaboration technology can also be a vehicle for people to put forward their opinions and allow others to comment and discuss the merits of someone’s positions.” The idea of two brains being better than one can be expanded to 5 brains is better than one. Or even 100 brains is better than one. The more brains you have present the stronger and more confident your idea can become.

Schaffner, M. (2010 , January). How Technology Enhances Collaboration. In Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2013

Watkins, M. (2013, June). Making virtual teams work: ten basic principles. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 19, 2013

The future of Collaboration

Social Media

Social media is probably the biggest technological advancement in the 21st century. It creates a large online community the enables the sharing of information and news.  Social media allows for many great things to happen. As great as it is, and as many advantages as it can give us, it can also cause a few problems like the over sharing of information.  Personally, I use Twitter and Facebook. The lack of a smartphone in my life makes it a challenge to use many more of them on a consistent basis.

                                                               Image

            I use Twitter mainly for quick news and to market myself. Twitter allows me to follow so many diverse information sources. Over three quarters of the accounts that I follow are devoted to sports. Twitter is the first website I visit each day. I check what happened in sports the day before and then I proceed to read various blogs if anything catches my eye. Adam Kirsch points out in his article published in the New York Times, “Criticism is also a kind of reportage, and Twitter is an ideal way of breaking news,” This is another one of my main uses for Twitter. The amount of news on it makes it quite easy to stay up to date with current events. The diversity of information that Twitter grants me is the main reason that it is my social media outlet of choice. I see other people using it as a way of sharing information about their own lives.  It usually ends up with a few pictures posted and a few sweeping statements about their lives. Beyond that, most people use Twitter as a way to express their opinions and exercise their voice. Whether that be with politics, or other pertinent news it allows people to voice their ideas and perhaps have a conversation about it.

            I am on Facebook more than Twitter, however I find that I am much less active on Facebook. I use it more to keep up with my friends lives by looking at their old pictures or  posts. I also use Facebook to chat with my friends, something that is hard to do on Twitter. I used to use Facebook for all my social media purposes, however, when I added Twitter into my social media cannon my activity on Twitter replaced my activity on Facebook. I haven’t posted a status in what seems like years, but I tweet every day. Despite my increased activity on Twitter, I still spend more time on Facebook than on Twitter.

            I find that many of my friends use Facebook the same way I do; with limited activity but high frequency. However, I have many friends that use Facebook as a way to advertise themselves for a business, skill, or hobby that they have. Some of my friends are aspiring musicians or artists and they use Facebook as a way to generate interest and spread the word of their aspiration in hopes of an internet connection.

            Moving forward I think social media will grow even more and become an extremely important part of everyone’s lives. It will make the world smaller and smaller and connect us more and more. Amanda LittleJohn said the following in an interview, “While I don’t believe the press release is dead, it has been transformed, to become this living, breathing thing.”  She goes on to say that every release has to have a social element or it has no legs. I think social media has already altered PR so much and as social media grows so will PR.

Swallow, E. (2010, August 16). The future of public relations and social media. Retrieved

       October 30, 2013, from http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/

Kirsch, A. (2013, October 29). How has Twitter changed the role of the literary critic. In

       New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2

       013/11/03/books/review/how-has-twitter-changed-the-role-of-the-literary-critic.html?ref=socialmedia&_r=1&

Social Media