Series of Media Fumbles By the New York Jets Offers Spate of PR Lessons

Following a disastrous season that was plagued by a series of boneheaded moves, the New York Jets have become the laughingstock of the National Football League. However, the team has fumbled so many times this season that the organization can now get an entry into the “How Not to Practice PR” playbook.

In the the latest PR fumble, the Jets have violated the NFL's media policy by not making head coach Rex Ryan or other team executives available within a week of the end of the regular season, according to several reports.

The team, which finished 6-10 this season, was originally scheduled to hold a press conference on Dec. 31. However, the club’s PR staff released a statement that announced that the press conference had been postponed until a later date due to an organizational decision, said (The team will reportedly address the media sometime next week.)

Perhaps all of this hubbub is by design by Jets’ owner Woody Johnson's design, who these days seems more interested in landing the proverbial back page than winning football games. Johnson is Exhibit A for how, in many organizations, the fish rots from the head. Aside from spending millions on reprobates like receiver Santonio Holmes, Johnson was pretty mum with the media this year.

Indeed, from a PR perspective, the Jets can only stand to lose if they don’t start to practice more transparency.

Like all brands, the Jets owe it to their fans (and the media) to answer questions, particularly when things have gone so horribly wrong, such as trading for Tim Tebow, who proceeded to ride the pine for the most of the season and failing to nurture starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Apparently thumbing its nose at NFL media relations policy is insult to injury.

Any company, organization or association can have a bad week (or few months), doubly so if the wounds, as in the case of the Jets, are self-inflicted. Nevertheless, the onus is on communications executives to help explain via the corporate brass what led to the decisions and how the company intends to remedy the situation.

In a digital age, companies that admit error don’t get a death sentence. Au contraire, such a move demonstrates to the public that the company cares about it customers and prospects and wants to do right by them. The Jets have shown that they can’t display much in terms of winning football games, but they are a prime example of lousy PR.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1 

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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