TV Interview on NFL Domestic Violence Crisis
C4CS® Senior Partner Dianne Chase was recently interviewed by Time Warner Cable News Charlotte (@TWCNewsCLT)
in regard to the NFL domestic violence crisis. She called on the NFL to establish an unequivocal policy on domestic violence. The following interview script and the corresponding video clip are available on the station's website
Hardy's Leave Hits in the Middle of NFL's PR Problems
CHARLOTTE— Greg Hardy's empty locker is just another casualty of a scourge in the NFL. Hardy is going on voluntary paid leave while sorting out domestic violence charges. GM Dave Gettleman called it a trying and difficult situation on Wednesday. “We have attempted to be very thoughtful and intentional about this, but there's no rule book for this guys,” he said.
“So the question becomes, 'Why not?'” said crisis communications expert Dianne Chase. Chase was one of several PR professionals calling the NFL's actions “fumbles” after the announcement and the arrest of Cardinals player Jonathan Dwyer within the same day. “Do you need to go to a guide book to see what is the right thing to do? If it were your spouse, if it were your daughter, if it were your sister?” said Chase.
The Panthers and the league are under increasing pressure. Two of their largest sponsors, Anheuser-Busch and Pepsico, blasted the NFL's handling of the cases this week. A statement from Anheuser-Busch read in part: “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.”
“I am deeply disturbed that the repugnant behavior of a few players and the NFL's acknowledged mishandling of these issues is casting a cloud over the integrity of the league and the reputations of the majority of players who've dedicated their lives to a career they love,” said Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi on Thursday.
“Their reputation really is being seen as winning at all cost and just ignoring the reality of some of the situations,” Chase said. But can they fix it? Drew Porcello of Pivot PR said yes. “Something we tell our clients is 'Tell it fast, tell the truth and tell it as quickly as you possibly can.'” The league has work to do on that front.
Fifteen minutes into the Panthers’ news conference Wednesday, coach Ron Rivera lamented people calling secretaries at the stadium criticizing his decisions. He appeared to grow frustrated, saying, “I make decisions that are in the best interests of this organization. So don't ever forget that, OK?” He then walked away.
“If you seem discouraged, angry or defensive, people can take that the wrong way,” said Porcello. He said distractions like that can make you look unprepared and give your audience the wrong messages. “They think that there may be some underlying stories behind it, that you're not telling the truth,” he said.
The league has acted in some measure. The NFL has assigned a special investigator to Baltimore player Ray Rice’s charges. They’ve also implemented a two strike policy with a six game suspension for a first incident. But they've not intervened in multiple other cases. The Panthers said Hardy will be on leave until at least mid-November.
Chase said if the league wants to survive, this is an opportunity to tackle off-the-field behavior with a no-tolerance policy. “But they can't waiver,” she said. She said words are no longer enough, that they need to “walk the walk.”
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