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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Fumbling Forgiveness

    Big Ben Roethlisberger gave the media a stiff arm today in Pittsburgh. How long he plans to remain silent is anyone’s guess.

    The quarterback promised the NFL he would change his ways and would give up bar hopping and unnecessary (and illegal) roughness with strange women.

    He had no choice. As an NFL superstar, his image is closely entwined with that of his league, and his masters are losing their patience.

    But besides getting some serious psychological counseling demanded by the NFL, we hoped that Ben was bright enough to seek out the services of a solid PR professional who could school him on the necessity of facing the media as part of an overall campaign to prove he is not an overpaid thug.

    But Ben’s recent refusal to face the media’s tough questions suggests that he has ignored a PR coach’s advice or never sought it. Shame.

    At 15-Seconds.com, we teach our clients that when nasty question await your next meeting with reporters –don’t run away –suck it up and get it over with. 

    In Ben’s case, it is better to face the media now (armed with some well practiced sound bites) than to let the pressure build as the season nears. Those sound bites are easier to learn than a few new routes in the playbook.

    Big Ben might take a lesson from the baseball world – a lesson executed to perfection months before the season’s first pitch.

    Remember all the controversy when Mark McGwire decided he wanted to return to baseball? Perhaps you don’t.   Because after taking some good advice, McGwire held a series of media availabilities and let the press punched themselves out. They asked their questions and largely moved on.

    Now, when McGwire and the Cardinals travel around the national league, the questions are mostly about baseball. Imagine that, Big Ben!  A well crafted play that scored.

    A last piece of advice from the 15-Second playbook from to two wily old veterans of the crisis communications game:

    Reporters are like alligators, you don’t have to like them, but if you are wise, you will keep them well fed.


  • ESPN: Somewhere Over the Dwayne Bowe

    “They say I said what?”

    Dwayne Bowe, a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, got himself in a heap of trouble.

    ESPN The Magazine quoted him recently as saying that some of his teammates arrange for there to be “a girl in every room” when the team goes on the road. He says they call it “importing.”

    Bowe now says it ain’t so. And that he was misquoted. He told the Kansas City Star that the way the reporter: “…took it was totally not the way that I said it.”

    Nevertheless, the player apologized saying:

    “I apologize to the organization, the team, those guys who I put in a bind. My words was misunderstood and baseless and were said without malice. Everybody who know Dwayne Bowe know my personality, knows I’m a jokester, knows I like to have fun and stuff like that. Now, it taught me I got to take things serious and think before you talk because words can get you in trouble.”

    ESPN The Magazine‘s editor Gary Belsky says he has an audio tape of the interview and has offered to play it for Bowe or Kansas City Chief officials but has refused to publicly release it. They stand by their story.

    Several lessons leap out from this example.

    1. As Bowe knows (now), “words can get you in trouble.”

    2. Don’t joke about things that many folks won’t find funny — unless you are prepared to take the heat.

    3. It is a good idea to have your own tape recorder rolling at any interview so you know what you said, the context in which you said it, and so that you can prove your innocence (assuming that you are)

    4. Don’t accuse reporters of misquoting you or taking your words out of context if THEY had a tape recording running — and they pretty much got it right.

    It appears that Bowe lucked out that ESPN has elected not to release the full audio tape.


  • Straight Pitch From A Baseball Mom

    The mother of a Washington Nationals baseball player neatly summed up our philosophy on media relations today.

    Pam Storen, mom of rookie reliever Drew Storen, is quoted in the Washington Post today about what she has told her son about dealing with the media.

    “I know Drew tries to be accommodating,” she tells Dan Steinberg.

    “We’ve had a discussion about if the media likes you and you go out there and have a couple rough innings, it’s gonna be a lot better for you than if you’re a jerk.”