Whether they are social media trolls looking to start trouble or people with a legitimate gripe about your products and/or services, PR managers need (in most cases) to address detractors in a dignified way, one way or another.
By deflecting blame, calling out Magic Johnson and making a spectacle of himself by weeping at times, Sterling did nothing to help rebuild his reputation.
It’s a matter of scale, of course, but surely there are plenty of communicators and PR pros who can relate to having to deal with a severe crisis (with a lot of moving parts) that could result in severe erosion of the brand or organization.
It’s a delicate balance for PR pros and communicators: What is your obligation to consumers when your online products and services have been compromised in some way?
While the crisis and reputation management boat has almost definitely sailed for Sterling and the Clippers PR team, there are still some valuable lessons to learn from how this story has played out.
While new technology allows teams to communicate with external parties quicker and more efficiently, these modes of connection have also come bearing new challenges.
“Stay inside and wait” will likely go down as one of the worst—and most deadly—messages ever communicated in a crisis.