Pacer Player’s $75k Homophobic Remark

Erik Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis preparation, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, PR, public relations, reputation management Leave a Comment

Put language policies in place to support reputation & crisis management efforts

Thanks to the efforts of civil rights groups, and the sheer amount of attention that’s able to be focused on issues because of social media and the ‘net in general, the use of offensive language by public figures is being punished, swiftly.

Take the example of Roy Hibbert, starting center for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, who just ate the better part of $100k as a result of his wording during a post-game news conference. has the story:

The NBA has fined Roy Hibbert $75,000 after the Indiana Pacers center used a gay slur in one answer and a profanity in another during his news conference Saturday following Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Hibbert ended a response to a question about his defense on Miami Heat star LeBron James with “no homo.”

The NBA responded less than 24 hours later, announcing Sunday in a release that Hibbert was fined for “using inappropriate and vulgar language.” The fine was handed down after Hibbert issued an apology Sunday morning, saying in a statement that he sincerely has “deep regret over my choice of words last night.”

How can you prevent your organization from running into crises related to the use of slurs, racist remarks, and other unacceptable speech?

You need a policy.

Obviously, the NBA’s policy is to give players a major warning in the form of fines for tens of thousands of dollars, while yours would probably involve something more like a suspension and mandatory sensitivity training.

The point is that you need established guidelines for what type of language is unacceptable,  predetermined punishments for violating said guidelines and training (to include periodic refresher training) to ensure the policy is remembered. That way, you can’t be percieved as acting rashly by the party being punished, and any offended parties can clearly see that such behavior is unacceptable to your organization and will not be tolerated, making crisis management for the whole situation as clear-cut as possible.

The BCM Blogging Team

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