Do The Patriots Need Crisis Communication Help?

The 2014-15 New England Patriots are your newest NFL Super Bowl Champions…fairly or unfairly.

deflated footballs, photo credit: AP Photo

The New England Patriots are coming off a tremendous last-minute Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks, but they are still entangled in a tampering scandal that could tarnish that great Super Bowl win and maybe even their legacy.

While public and media perception is slowly edging back to the side of the Patriots, mistakes were made and rules of crisis management were broken. So we reached out to top PR executives on Agency Spotter, and compiled three corporate crisis management tips or insights the Patriots should have followed to air on the side of caution.

#1 “Mistakes can be forgotten, but cover-ups are forever.”

“Rule #1 in any crisis situation is to tell the truth,” said Debra Berliner, Senior Vice President of Kellen Communications

“Mistakes can be forgotten, but cover-ups are forever. In the scheme of things, while debates over deflated footballs may seem frivolous, the ethical conscience of an organization is serious stuff and helps shape public opinion. And, this is not the first time an NFL team has been embroiled in a cheating scandal.”

Berliner added, “In the off-season, Patriots management might consider announcing an even stricter code of self-regulation policies monitored by an independent third party. That would transition them from villains to heroes, taking the lead in setting a new ethical standard for the NFL.”

 #2 “When responding to a crisis, dress for respect.”

The President of Brandware Public Relations, Elke Martin, said,  “When responding to a crisis, dress for respect. While Bill Belichick, Head Coach of the Patriots, may be able to get away with a hoodie and a scowl, looking like you don’t give a hoot will only reinforce perceptions that you’re above the law – or whatever the current crisis may be. Adversity is serious business – look and act the part.”

#3 “Crisis communications is not a one-time media statement or press conference.”

Sherri Fallin Simmons, President and CEO of Duffey Communications, said, “Sure, there were some missteps at the onset of deflate-gate. But crisis communications is not a one-time media statement or press conference. In the case of the Patriots, they just pulled out an edge-of-your seat Super Bowl win. And those are the fireworks – not a few deflated footballs. The true issue or crisis is yet to come – as the hype settles and the NFL refocuses on the many PR issues it faces.”

“This is where an outside expert should be brought into play. A crisis expert looks at the bigger, long-term issues and prepares an organization or brand for those highly visible moments in time, such as public hearings or dastardly media exposés. The crisis expert works behind the scenes to make sure an organization or brand successfully navigates the crisis while working with marketing and PR strategists to elevate and protect the brand,” included Simmons.

Everything Counts

When dealing with crisis communications, the smallest factors might have the biggest impact. Something as little as the way you dress may sway public opinion and ultimately decided if you win or lose.

Don’t rule out anything, and use these three insights if you’re ever associated in an NFL scandal that involves correct air pressure in 10 of 12 footballs. For everything else, go to Agency Spotter to find the perfect PR agency for you.

Daniel Kim