As an account executive for a PR firm, it is my goal to NEVER let one of my clients show up in a “blunder” list like the one I’m about to formulate. Whether it’s an Instagram post where the share button is hit prematurely, a detrimental life choice that is caught on video and circulated for the world to see, or a business decision that doesn’t quite live up to the societal expectations of today, PR blunders are easy to commit, but difficult to undo.
Here are my top 5 sports PR blunders of 2017:
1) Adidas Running
We’ve all said or at least thought the words, “I survived” after a long run, but Adidas just completely messed up on this one. After this year’s Boston Marathon, Adidas launched an email promotional campaign that congratulated runners for, “surviving the Boston Marathon!” After the 2013 bombings, the Boston Marathon deserves special attention and care, not only in honoring those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack, but also in selecting the right words to talk about an event with such a history.
2) Markelle Fultz
Now for something a bit lighter hearted. So you get selected number 1 in the 2017 NBA draft and YOU DON’T PROOFREAD YOUR INSTAGRAM POST! The post reads, “Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name)….” You get the point, proof read and always fill in the blanks!
The situation: Violence broke out this past August in Charlottesville, Va. at a white nationalist rally held to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and subsequently shook our nation. ESPN was caught in quite the predicament. A broadcaster named Robert Lee was set to call the UVA vs. William and Mary football game on September 2, however ESPN decided to pull him from this broadcast and put him on a different one. ESPN says they were trying to protect Lee from the scrutiny he could have potentially received due to sharing a name with a Confederate general, however the backlash this decision received on social media may have just drawn more attention to an unfortunate situation.
4) Mr. Met
Growing up, I loved seeing the Oriole Bird at Camden Yards, all spunky and friendly and you know, doing what a mascot is supposed to do. Mascots are a huge part of in-stadium entertainment- giving hugs, taking pictures, and high-fiving the fans. However, during a Mets game in which the team lost to the Brewers by a final score of 7-1 Mr. Met proved to be quite the sore loser. Mr. Met gave the finger to a group of fans and of course, someone caught it and tweeted it. The mascots purpose is to foster a positive relationship with the public, but this Mr. Met had other PR plans.
5) Eli Manning
If you want to keep your job, don’t bench the face and leader of your team, even if he’s only won two games. Ben McAdoo, the head coach of the Giants benched Eli Manning in favor of backup Geno Smith. It was the first time in 13 years (210 consecutive regular season games) that Manning would not be the starter for the NY Giants. McAdoo gave Eli the choice to start and then sit, but Eli, upholding his character, declined the opportunity to keep his streak. Between an emotional press conference where the fan favorite was fighting off tears and tweets from both former and current players and football fans, it was obvious that this decision was a huge mistake. McAdoo has since been fired.