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ESPN – The Clock is Ticking #FireBrittMcHenry: It’s Not About Forgiveness, But About Character

britt mchenryBy Gerard Braud

The clock is ticking for ESPN. Will they put Britt McHenry back on the air after a 7-day suspension due to her viral video rant?

In many crisis situations, an expert might counsel both the offender and her employee on ways to 1) say I’m sorry and 2) to make amends. In many crisis situations the public is willing to 1) forgive and 2) give a person a second chance.

This crisis is different. This is a crisis of character that speaks to the core of who 1) Britt McHenry is and 2) the character of the ESPN sports network and its executive staff.

Character is doing the right thing, regardless of whether anyone sees you; regardless of whether you are in public or private.

The interesting twist to the Britt McHenry saga can be found by reading the comments section on any website that has run a story about her rant. The overwhelming consensus is that this could never be a one-time situation. The consensus is that the words McHenry used shows she has an ego and superiority complex that is difficult for most humans to fathom.

britt mchenry2In case you don’t remember the words she said to the clerk at the towing company that towed her car include:

“I’m in the news sweetheart and I will fu*&ing sue this place.”

“That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”

“With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”

“Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college drop out and do the same thing.”

“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me huh?”

“Oh, like yours cause they look so stunning. Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fu*King trailer honey. Lose some weight baby girl.”

There is room the collective hearts of viewers to forgive someone who has committed a wrong. But forgiveness does not have to go hand in hand with employing someone with such a flawed character, especially when there are many other people with more talent and a nicer personality who can do the job the McHenry was blessed to have.

ESPN – Your character is on the line as much as McHenry’s character is on the line.

ESPN – I hope you set an example for your viewers and your employees by not keeping McHenry on the air or on your payroll.

To keep her on the air sends a message that, “This was a close call and I’ll have to be careful not to get caught again.” To terminate her sends a message that it is time for her to reflect on who she is and whether she can truly change her ways.

 

 

 

 

#FireBrittMcHenry: The ESPN Media & Social Media Crisis

britt mchenryBy Gerard Braud

How would you or your company handle the situation if one of your employees did what ESPN reporter Britt McHenry did?

A media and social media crisis has been created for ESPN and McHenry when a video was posted that showed McHenry berating an employee of an auto towing company.

At this moment, ESPN has suspended McHenry for one week. How would you handle this situation?

C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” We could paraphrase that to say, “Character is doing the right thing, regardless of whether you are in public or private.”

McHenry was at a business, thinking she was having a private conversation with the clerk. But in a world where cameras record everything, McHenry’s encounter became public.

On the line right now is the character of ESPN and McHenry. The hashtag #FireBrittMcHenry began trending shortly after the video was posted.

Here are some of the things McHenry said on the video that was posted:

britt mchenry2“I’m in the news sweetheart and I will fu*&ing sue this place.”

“That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”

“With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”

“Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college drop out and do the same thing.”

“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me huh?”

“Oh, like yours cause they look so stunning. Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fu*King trailer honey. Lose some weight baby girl.”

I spent 15 years on television and worked very hard never to be or be perceived as a celebrity. My wife used to go crazy because people would ask, “Where do I know you from?” I’d always shake their hand and say, “I don’t know. I’m Gerard Braud. And your name is…?” Never did I identify myself with my television station.

Conversely, I also knew some really mean reporters and anchors with huge egos who thought they were better than everyone else. Many were notorious for throwing temper tantrums.

In McHenry’s case, being angry that your car got towed is understandable. But when your anger turns to personal attacks about the appearance of other people, indicating that you clearly believe you are better looking and a better person than everyone else, you’ve crossed the line and you deserve to be fired.

In television, ratings often drive decision making more than a network simply doing what is morally and ethically the right thing. That’s sad. This should be a no brainer for ESPN to fire McHenry. Sure, she gets ratings because of her looks. But there are many other talented young women with nicer personalities and smaller egos who are ready to take her place.

And here’s the kicker to the on camera rant – when McHenry says on video, “Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t.” If McHenry had a brain she would be smart enough never to say what she said or treat a person the way she did.

#FireBrittMcHenry

 

Editor’s note: Left Jab Radio interviewed media and crisis expert Gerard Braud about Britt McHenry. Listen to the interview here.

 

 

NFL Failed Crisis Management Amid Sponsor Pressure

Braudcast Sept 18 NFLBy Gerard Braud

The NFL’s failed crisis management is hitting them in the wallet. It is hitting teams hard, as players under suspicion of wrong-doing are singled out.

It shows weakness of leadership to not manage a crisis properly from the beginning.

It shows failure of leadership not to communicate a response properly from the onset of the crisis.

It is pitiful that sponsors have to force the NFL to make decisions about this crisis based on hard cash.

A good leader and a strong company would evaluate the potential damage to revenue and reputation at the onset of the crisis, leading them to make the right executive decisions. Then they should implement crisis communication techniques to let the world know that the crisis is being managed.

If you are in public relations, employee communications, or corporate communications, this is a case study you should observe so that these same poor crisis decisions never happen where you work.

Failed Crisis Management Leadership Hits Multiple NFL Players and Teams

Braudcast Sept 18 NFLBy Gerard Braud

The NFL crisis gets bigger in the absence of crisis management, crisis communications and good executive leadership.

Adrian Peterson and a string of other players and teams are being swept up in the crisis because as the appointed leader of the NFL, Roger Goodell failed to make the right decisions at the beginning of the Ray Rice crisis.

With each passing day, Goodell’s failure to communicate makes the crisis worse.

Expert crisis management and crisis communications involves having a plan of action that fully addresses the potential damage to an institution’s reputation and revenue. The slower an institution is to respond, the more the crisis spreads and the more damage to reputation and revenue.

What about where you work? Do your leaders have a crisis management and crisis communications plan? Do the people with the high titles possess true leadership qualities, especially in a crisis?

Most institutions fail to have a plan that would truly serve their needs in a crisis. Many have a few sheets of paper in a binder that states some standard operating procedures. These are comfort plans – they make people feel good because the word crisis plan is on a piece of paper. But experience shows that most institutions fail to write the type of deep crisis communications plan needed to handle every type of crisis they may face.

Most institutions fail to consider both emergency type crises as well as the smoldering ethical issues within the organization.

Many executives are in denial early in a crisis and throughout the crisis, as they hope and pray it will go away. Hope is not a crisis communications strategy. I believe in the power of prayer, but I also believe that your actions during a crisis can be guided by a crisis communications plan so you can eliminate the need for prayer.

The reality is, the longer it lingers, the worse it gets.

Eventually reputation and revenue are damaged significantly enough that someone at the top gets fired.

Because Goodell has been weak, the crisis has spread to other teams and players, causing sponsors to pull out or threaten to pull out.

My prediction is the NFL owners will soon be calling for Goodell to resign.

In yesterday’s blog and in radio interviews with America Tonight and NBC Sports Radio, my suggestion to Goodell is that he suspend himself for one year. You can read more from my previous entry.

Adrian PetersonWill this kind of failure to lead in a crisis happen someday where you work? It doesn’t have to if you prepare for it with a crisis communications plan and conduct regular drills that role-play various types of crises, especially those that deal with hard moral and ethical decisions.

Good crisis communications and crisis management should never be based on spontaneous decisions and strategies in the midst of your crisis. Good crisis communications and crisis management is derived from writing strong plans on a clear sunny day.

NFL Crisis Management and Crisis Communications Double Standard

Why Suspend Goodell? Watch

Why Suspend Goodell? Watch

By Gerard Braud

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell missed a crisis management and crisis communications opportunity to end the Ray Rice crisis. Sunday should have been the day Roger Goodell announced to the world that he would be suspending himself for one year. It would have displayed leadership in a crisis. It would have been communications that managed and ended the crisis.

What? Why? Is this the best expert advice that crisis managers and crisis communicators counselors could make?

Consider this — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for one year because even though he didn’t know that his defensive coach was running a bounty program for defensive players. Payton received a one-year suspension because Goodell said that as the head coach, it happened on Payton’s watch. Payton, as the top leader, was held responsible by Goodell

So, many call for Goodell to be fired and Goodell goes into classic executive denial, diversion and potential cover-up about what he knew. The best way for him to end the current crisis would be to suspend himself on the grounds that the Rice incident happened on his watch. If someone within the NFL had video of the punch in the elevator and Goodell didn’t see it, then by default, Goodell is as guilty as Payton.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

If we learn Goodell did know about the video, or saw the video, and/or was told by Ray Rice about the punch, yet faile
d to sere Rice his harsh penalty until the world saw the punch video, then we have a classic case of leadership failure in a crisis. We have a case of an executive acting one way toward others, yet having different rules for himself. We have a case of an executive who was wishing it would all go away, but who was forced to respond differently when the world learned more.

Crisis management requires good ethics and good ethical decisions. Expert crisis management only happens with the executive’s words and actions are one in the same. Are the executive’s actions congruent with his or her words? When they are, the executive is a leader. When they are not congruent, the executive fails to be a leader.

The more I watch this crisis the more I expect it to get worse. When a crisis is allowed to smolder this long it results only in more damage to reputation and revenue. Experts will tell you that the faster you end the crisis, the faster revenue and reputation are restored.

Leadership in a crisis happens when hard decisions are made quickly. A self-suspension is a great compromise shy of Goodell being fired. If Goodell fails to take a bold step, then his job is one the line, as it should be, for failing at crisis management and crisis communications