Favre Crisis Management Clinic

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Anyone who watched the Brett Favre post-game press conference after the Vikings MNF loss to the Jets may have noticed something incredible. Facing the media within days of allegations of unwanted advances towards a coworker, Favre put on a crisis management clinic.

Important to note that I don’t condone or condemn Favre….yet. Innocent until proven guilty in my book, and of course if the allegations are true than Favre is yet another athlete-god to tumble off of the mountaintop. We’re living in the age of transparency, and public figures will always be exposed for who they really are. But regardless of one’s feelings about Favre’s actions, the way he handled the New York media was textbook.

Unlike Tiger, who waited weeks to face a hand picked group of friendly media in a staged event that was more like a student body president’s speech than it was a press conference, Favre stepped up to the podium and let the media fire away. As I was watching, my jaw dropped. The infamous NY media waited until at last 5 questions in before they asked anything about the scandal. And when they finally did bring up the awkward subject, Favre deflected them brilliantly. He stuck to the script and redirected the questions. “I’m here to talk about the game” was his mantra. The best exchange:

Media: “Brett, were you embarrassed by everything that happened this week?” Favre: “I was embarrassed that we lost the football game.”

Gene Simmons once gave me his sole purpose whenever being interviewed: control the topic. He asked me to pretend I was a reporter, and ask him how many girls he had (slept with). I did. His reply: “Bill, I’m so glad you asked that question. But what’s more important is how many kids go to bed hungry each year. That’s why we are here today. Don’t you agree that is what we should be concerned about?”

Far too few athletes fully understand the bully pulpit that they sit on. Writers need to fill pages and air time. They go to athletes with an agenda to try to fill it. Athletes too often fall into the traps that are set for them. Even if Soledad O’Brian asks if race played a role, why answer the question?

I will be on Favre’s case if all of this proves to be true. But regardless, he put on an absolute crisis management clinic when he faced the NY reporters. The issue won’t go away, but he took an awful lot of steam out if its sails.

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About Bill Sanders

SVP of Personal Brand Management at PMK*BNC. Helping icons from all walks of life to connect with their fans and monetize their brands.
This entry was posted in Athlete marketability, Athlete Marketing, PR, Sports Marketing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Favre Crisis Management Clinic

  1. Kelly Beal says:

    So…in the age of TRANSPARENCY…(considering Dan Gilbert’s comments)

    Tell the truth about how you feel = BAD

    Deflect and re-direct = GOOD?

    From a purely PR standpoint of course.

  2. Bill Sanders says:

    Thanks so much for the comment Kelly. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and to post. Just to clarify, my intention was to only comment on the PR strategy in the immediate aftermath of the story breaking. I did not state, and didn’t mean to imply that telling the truth is bad. Telling the truth is always the best and fastest way to solve a problem. However I don’t think that was the forum to do that. I don’t know the whole story, so I can’t yet comment on exactly what Favre should do. I do think however that facing the media sooner rather than later (which he did-even if not by choice) will always allow the story to die down a bit. Tiger waited too long. I’m simply stating this was an example of how an athlete can take a more proactive role in the interview process.

    I’ve been pretty hard on athletes when they make mistakes, including my own clients. If Favre did indeed send those pictures and make those calls, he will need to own up to the situation. In the meantime, he faced the media and did not try to limit the questions they asked. He went in with a strategy, and minimized the damage for now. That is good PR strategy in my view. I don’t condone what he allegedly did. I just think a publicist somewhere made a good recommendation that he should get out there, face the media and control the message.

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