They're at it again. This isn't of the greatest moment, unless you desperately want to attend a National Football League game this fall. But the players and owners are roughing each other up in contract negotiations and, at least today, the players are making some flubs. We remember this sort of thing from the last time. Insensitivity makes for losing PR – don't they learn?
Sportswriter Bob Frantz writes in the northern Ohio News-Herald of how the players are thinking of boycotting the NFL draft ceremony at Radio City Music Hall next month and then quotes Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Adrian Peterson as saying in a tweet, "The players are getting robbed. They are...it's modern day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too." Then there's Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who tweeted that, "Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel each other." Professional football is a rough, sometimes perilous business. (Think about the issue of concussions players receive from collisions on the field.) But it's entered by choice. People working at any job will laugh at hearing a six-year $40.5 million contract (Peterson's) compared to "slave wages." That's the way to lose any shred of fan support.
Public relations, we keep saying, has to be truly relational to be effective. Regard needs to be shown to whomever you're trying to reach, like football fans, whether at Radio City Music Hall or in their living rooms. If there are bargaining issues, let's sort them out. But don't trivialize the situation. Don't these guys get it?
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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