Nobody wants to be last or the worst team in the league. Generally speaking, it’s just not something to aspire to. But when it happens, are there ways to use that for positive PR? Even possibly ways to build team spirit and drive to begin the next game or season for better results?
This is something the D.C. NFL franchise may be trying to figure out currently, but it’s not a new question, considering there will always be a team in last place at the end of a season. For the Redskins, the drama within the politics of the city don’t help matters, but they’ve faced a reasonable amount of drama within the team too. Some of it even seems to intersect with the politics, like the franchise name. In fact, many in the media are just calling them the D.C. NFL team rather than what they would with Chicago’s team (the Bears).
Then comes the decision by the team’s general manager, Scot McCloughan, to sink another $24 million into a quarterback that isn’t all that popular among the rest of the team, McCloughan being excluded from the Scouting Combine, and Bruce Allen’s failure. So many image problems are now connected to the team.
Making things positive in these situations, from a public relations perspective, will come as a result of a combination of crisis management PR and creative strategy. Celebrating the good points that can be found, turning to humor about some of the negatives, and offering a plan on how things will be turned around quickly. In some cases, it may also need a bit of off-hand wallowing. Much like the now historic crisis management of Hugh Grant after being caught with a hooker. Fess up and with a bit of charm and a wink, remind people that as seriously as you take the game — it’s still just a game.
One thing that the Redskins need to do, though — and very quickly — is establish a point person, a leader who’s in charge and will answer questions, address issues, and move everyone forward and away from the problems of the past.
It wouldn’t hurt the team to get out among the people a bit more too. Get involved in local charity work. Sponsor a cleanup crew for garbage left after the pipeline protests and connect that dreaded “name” to something good. They could also help with a Special Olympics-type event to remind themselves and the public that being last in a field of winners is not really a sign of being bad, just not in the top standing that week or year.
Just like the person arriving last at the 5K finish line as a first-time, even if they’re the most out of shape participant, there is still victory in crossing that line, no matter who else has already done so. Celebrate the moments when you can’t celebrate the standings.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is an award-winning Public Relations executive.