Media Minute: To popular to fail?
By Jerry Brown, APR
With all the recent headlines about domestic violence involving players and the ongoing saga about professional football and brain injuries, the NFL clearly is in crisis mode.
Is it too popular to fail? Or is it in trouble? Only time will tell.
As I see it, the brain-injury issue is a bigger long-term threat to the league than domestic violence.
After years of more or less ignoring domestic violence incidents involving its players, the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell have finally been forced to crack down because of the publicity and public reaction to the incidents involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and others. The league has been burned bad enough that its punishment for players involved in such incidents is going to be more severe.
There still will be players involved in domestic violence. But the incidents are less likely to be ignored or tolerated. And that means domestic violence involving players probably will fade as the hot potato it has become for the league.
The brain injuries are tougher to deal with. And it’s an issue that affects kids playing organized football. Fixing this problem won’t be easy.
My reason for writing about these issues isn’t about football. It’s about the nature of crises.
Some crises that put companies in the headlines and/or threaten their viability happen suddenly. But, despite popular belief to the contrary, most don’t. Most of them evolve over time — with plenty of warning signals that something’s wrong and needs to be fixed.
The crisis happens because the warning signals are ignored. That’s certainly true of both issues confronting the NFL right now. There were plenty of warning signals, going back many years.
I once worked for U S WEST, one of the Baby Bells created by the 1984 breakup of AT&T. The company’s leadership skimped on investments in the company’s network infrastructure for years to make their quarterly and annual financial statements look better. Despite complaints and warnings from customers, employees and public utilities commissioners, the company ignored the warnings until we had a full-scale crisis on our hands that cost the company millions of dollars and major damage to our reputation and credibility.
So, here’s my question for you: Is your company ignoring warning signs of a coming crisis? Is there anything you can do now to help fix it? If the warning signs are there and your company isn’t doing anything to fix the problem, then get your crisis management plan in order. There’s trouble ahead.
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