NFL’s Old-School Crisis Management Doesn’t Cut It

Jonathan Bernstein crisis communication, crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, PR, public relations, reputation management, social media crisis management, social media reputation management 1 Comment

It’s time to break the cycle of crisis

As you’re certainly aware, the NFL is once again in desperate need of crisis management as a result of not only Ray Rice, but also the league’s handling of his entire situation.  Many, especially the women who make up an estimated 45% of the NFL’s fanbase, are seriously questioning whether they can continue to support an organization with a culture of coverups, dishonesty, and violence that appears increasingly to not be contained to the field.

In an emotional segment, ESPN’s Hannah Storm summed up the conversations taking the place of the usual Sunday smacktalk and stat debates in many football-loving families around the country:

The NFL needs wake up, look around, and step out of the old school crisis management mentality that’s left fans feeling like they might need to find a new sport and major sponsors reconsidering next year’s ad spend. Proctor & Gamble has already pulled out of a major event sponsorship, and reports say others are waiting to see how the next few days pan out.

Bottom line is, everyone in a position of power within the NFL needs a lesson in how crisis management is done in 2014, or the cycle of crisis will continue to repeat itself.

Mainstream sports have traditionally been able to ignore proper crisis management because of their enormous popularity, but in today’s world the power of perception and reputation is greater than ever before, and brands have more tools to accurately track these once-nebulous factors as well. Will this one incident put the NFL on the sidelines? Absolutely not. But, could a persistence of this same damaging culture, and a failure to handle the inevitable future incidents well, eventually take big money away from the league? Well, it’s already happening.

The BCM Blogging Team

Comments 1

  1. Leslie Kelsay

    There’s a new horror story of the NFL’s lousy crisis communications every day, including today’s presser with the owner of the Ravens. What organization has so many resources available and yet consistently fumbles (Except perhaps the NCAA)? They don’t get the underlying issues and they don’t get crisis communications basics. They’re squandering the deep well of good will from their fan base, corporate partners and government entities who have spent billions of dollars from working people to support the creation of bazillionaires. Maybe we’d see improvement in ethics AND communications if Anheuser Busch went dark on the NFL for one week–every game, every pre-game, every post-game.

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