It looks like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t get the memo on crisis management. His press conference this afternoon was little short of a disaster.
Note to Commissioner: You missed the most basic rule — when faced with a bad public relations situation, say as little as possible. You’ve addressed the issue more than once, so SHUT UP.
The fact is, most p.r. crises do eventually blow over if the company or individual lets it. The best way to do that, most often, is by saying nothing, at least temporarily. Journalists don’t like it (trust me, speaking as one, we really don’t), but it can be effective if the beleaguered target just shuts up for a while. That means:
No press conference.
Do nothing to stir the hornets’ next, and the hornets get bored and leave. Keep stirring it up occasionally, and they’re sure to sting.
Don’t misunderstand. I don’t condone what Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson did in any way whatsoever. Nor do I believe Goodell has handled the situations properly from the beginning.
I’m just saying that Goodell, whose job is on the line, did himself no favors with today’s press conference. He would have been far better off to maintain a dignified silence for a few more days, perhaps taking the time to more thoroughly think through his responses to likely questions. Then, a press conference could have mitigated some of damage to both Goodell’s and the league’s battered images.
There are exceptions, of course. When a murderer adulterated Tylenol capsules with potassium cyanide in the early 1980s, Johnson and Johnson, the product manufacturer was out front with the story fast. The company halted production, announced changes to packaging and warned the public and medical facilities. The company was rightfully lauded for its straightforward handling of the situation.
But in Goodell’s case, he was ill-served by the press conference.