How Not To Deal with Crisis: The Curious Case of Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

So you’re a business owner or executive and you want to handle a crisis with ineptitude and enrage your important business partners, all your employees, and your target audience, right?  Then study today’s press conference by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.

I’ve been a huge football fan and followed the sport since 1974 when I was 9 years old. Over the decades, we’ve all witnessed crises occur for what has become the premier sport in the United States. Never have we witnessed the erosion of trust that has happened only in the past few months, with a climax of a fiasco such as today. I have no doubts Roger Goodell is a smart guy. He just didn’t show it today.

Here’s how to mishandle a crisis when you’re the head of an organization and your world (whatever that might look like) is watching…

  • Start 15 minutes late. Really? You set the press conference. Show up on time. Not a good way to start.
  • The opening statement was as obvious as a ham sandwich. We could have all probably written it ourselves. Instead, make a brief (3 minutes) statement apologizing for past errors of judgement and open it up for questions.
  • Avoid answering Yes/No questions. When Goodell was asked if he had spoken to NFL sponsors, specifically Anheuser Busch. He never uttered the words yes or no, and proceeded to spin the case around to a point where everyone was confused and a follow up question about his communications had to be asked. His response? “You will have to ask them.”
  • Keep referring to your past statements. The commissioner answered almost every questions with, “As I just stated,” or “As I’ve said before…” Here’s the deal, Roger. You lost your right to fall back on past comments. You need to just keep answering what you have in front of you.
  • Be the ultimate spin doctor. One journalist asked about the comparison to his ruling on New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton after the infamous “Bounty Gate” scandal. Goodell blasted Payton for lack of control and suspended him for a year. When his lack of control was called into question, he began spinning like a Wolfman Jack in his prime, by not only avoiding any comments about the Saints and Payton (which was the question), and again explaining that he was going to fix everything.
  • Keep referring to your nameless “experts.” Goodell kept referring to the league’s “experts.” These are the experts that didn’t see a problem with him interviewing Ray Rice with Janay Rice (the victim) in the same room. These are the “experts” that are advising the NFL on how to move forward with a domestic violence policy. We should all feel better…
  • Deny, deny, deny. When asked about the report that the Atlantic City hotel confirmed that they were never asked for the video in the elevator by the NFL, Goodell said they had tried several times. So let me get this straight, the NFL says it asked on multiple occasions and was shot down. The hotel says they were never asked. The TMZ reporter in the crowd said they got it with one request. Someone’s lying. It’s clear, yet Goodell simply skirted the issue.
  • Avoid clearing up conflict of interest questions. Rachel Nichols of CNN is really good at her job. She asked about the independent investigation that appears to have more bedfellows than Wilt Chamberlain on a good night back in the day. She drew a correlation about conflict of interest with owners and law firms. Instead of hitting that straight on, Goodell seemed outraged that Nichols would call into question the integrity of a former FBI chief.
  • Show them you’re sweating. Speaking of Nichols, she really got under the Commish’s skin (which seems to be getting thinner by the day). You could tell his anger simply by his facial expression. You could also hear it in his voice when he tersely repeated her name, Rachel, when addressing her. I’m thinking there’s not going to be a Christmas basket sent from him to her this year.
  • Pick a time when you might be least hurt. How about holding a press conference on a Friday afternoon? That way, sports radio can’t blast it the next day. College football and NFL games take place over on the weekend. By Monday, it’s horror will have dissipated. This one may not…

Heck, throw in a clown from the Howard Stern show that makes a scene right in the middle of the press conference and is dragged away screaming “Not the elevator…don’t take me to the elevator!” (Mocking the ray Rice elevator incident) and you have the makings of a huge calamity. That was a nice scene…NFL bouncers dragging someone away in front of the nation.

Crisis communications is critical after a catastrophe. Ask former BP CEO Tony Hayward who publicly exclaimed that he only wanted to “get my life back” after the Gulf oil spill. He is toiling somewhere in Siberia now and it took BP years to regain its reputation. This press conference (Goodell was silent for the past 2 weeks, other than a CBS News interview) was a great opportunity to fix some real problems. Unfortunately, Mr. Goodell’s performance only exacerbated them. Football pundits and NFL players on Twitter widely panned it. The results are exploding in real time across social media platforms and television.

Crisis communications mean everything when it comes to protecting your reputation and brand. Your employees, your supply chain, your business partners, investors, and community count on you to respond quickly, be candid, admit mistakes, and express a plan. Although Commissioner Goodell did do some of those things, his ability to respond to questions with empathy and believability have deeply damaged his credibility. It will be interesting to see if he can survive this. In your business, you may not have the same chance.

Here’s one hint. Practice. If Goodell got advice, it was either not good or he didn’t execute well. You need to be prepared to face the music when it’s your crisis. Make sure you don’t get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct detrimental to your business. Goodell just got 15 yards and maybe more for his…

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Politics & Social Media: Danger zone for business

From my September column in the Kitsap Business Journal….
September 5, 2012 @ 3:48pm | Dan Weedin

It’s September and we are heading down the backstretch of this political season. For business people, this means you are entering a danger zone.

Fear not, I am NOT the political pundit this month. Far from it. But, I am here to warn you of the dangers of “mouthing off” with a click of a “post.” The consequences could cost you business.

Let me preface by saying that I have no problem with business people supporting a candidate or a cause. You have every right to voice your opinion and advocate whatever positions you like. That doesn’t mean you should be a social media bully.

In an era where Facebook and Twitter send your sound bytes viral in milliseconds, you may find yourself wishing you could turn back time and control your finger. Your clients and prospects may solely be on Facebook for fun. In fact, the odds say that they are.

With that in mind, I present to you Dan’s 10 Rules for Surviving the Political Season:

Tip #1 — Proofread your posts. Don’t write your last line; click send; and walk away feeling triumphant. You probably aren’t. If you’re angry or agitated, you probably wrote something you shouldn’t have.

Tip #2 — Avoid “fighting words.” It never ceases to amaze me what people will say when they don’t have to say it to your face. Case study — I had a “friend” write on a Facebook post that people with a certain line of thinking were “knuckle draggers and crack pots.” This was the husband of someone I sent business to! If you’re using verbiage like this to attract attention, be careful what attention you will get.

Tip #3 — Avoid using “labels.” Liberals, Democrats, Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers, whatever. By lumping them all together, you may include people you don’t want to. Some of those may even be your clients! Many Facebook “posters” are notorious for lumping in outliers by enlarging their demographics through generalities.

Tip #4 — Don’t enter into a war of words online. I’ve been guilty of this myself. No good can come from it. Either back off, or pick up the phone and call. If you don’t know the person well enough to call, then why do you even care?

Tip #5 — Beware of Pinterest. I know it’s the new hot craze. You can’t go through Facebook without seeing a gazillion posters (90 percent are absurd, based on my personal scientific study). When you start posting these things, people will assume you are fully supportive of the meaning. The problem is that the meaning may not be all so clear.

Tip #6 — Don’t take things personally. People have different opinions. It’s still okay to have them as friends or do business with them. There is a direct correlation where the less fighting words are used, the less likely someone will take something personally. Just saying…

Tip #7 — Don’t be angry. Anger usually leads to rash judgments, vitriolic posts and hurt feelings. Do you really want to hurt your potential customers’ (as well as current customers’) feelings? Anger tends to subside quickly; hurt feelings not so much.

Tip #8 — Be open to learn. When positions are cited without rancor or mean-spiritedness, I feel I can actually learn something new. I may not ultimately agree, but I am happy for the discourse and opportunity to grow.

Tip #9 — Have some perspective. These elections will all be over in a few months and the winners and losers will all go their own ways. Your words may linger on forever with those who read them.

Tip #10 — Don’t engage in political debate on social media. This will save you from yourself. Social media has the ability to take your position, inflate it past what it really is, attach a really mean voice, and shout it to the world. If you’re in business, the only thing you want shouted to the world is how you can help them, not whether you favor donkeys or elephants!

Bonus — A really large majority of Facebook “posters” aren’t in business. They have nothing to lose. They can break all my rules and be no worse for wear. If you get into battles with them, your posts are available for all your community to see (you knew that, right?). You may be slinging mud at your brother-in-law in Hoboken, but your best client may read it.

I’m not perfect. I’ve broken a few of my rules over the years (how do you think I thought of them?). I can tell you that as things get heated up, I will keep my opinions off the Facebook news feed. You and I may chat about them over a cold beer, but you won’t be “liking” or seething from them online.

My recommendation to you as a business professional is that you adhere to my rules, focus on building your business, and dodge the mud!

Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills. He is one of only 35 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; email at dan@danweedin.com or visit his website at www.danweedin.com.

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Barking Up a Tree

Barking Up a Tree.

My dogs have two very different world views on their fellow canines. Bella (on the left) could care less about dogs that happen to appear on the television. But get her out in the real world, and she becomes crazy. She knows where every dog on our walk lives; thinks there’s a dog in every car that drives by (based on seeing one once); and makes it her quest to bark maniacally at them. Captain Jack on the other hand doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with other dogs on his walk. He can pretty much take them or leave them. But, if he spies them on TV, he goes crazy. He attacks the television, searches behind it for those dastardly dogs, and now even recognizes the tunes in commercials where they pop up. Bella doesn’t care. In the end, neither cares about the others difference of opinion.

We all have different world views. Our own personal experiences and biases lead us to form political, religious, and economic notions. That doesn’t mean the other person with a different opinion is damaged.

During this political season leading up to a presidential election in November, social media has fueled the firestorm of conjecture and opinion. Everywhere I read, people are voicing their opinions louder and with more gusto than Captain Jack assailing my TV. Unfortunately, with it often comes boorish behavior. It’s not enough to have one’s opinion, but castigating those who think differently has become not only commonplace, but encouraged.

Don’t do this in business or you won’t last long. In fact, if you choose to do this in your social media platforms beware. You never know who is reading. Having an opinion is terrific and applauded. Tacking on foul language, degradation, and inappropriate humor may lose you business and friends. Always remember that the cyberspace curtain we hide behind is pretty transparent. Next time you bark, know that the entire neighborhood is listening…

This week’s quote – “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” Muhammad Ali

What are your Employees Tweeting?

Okay…now read this. This is important.

I just was scanning Twitter and saw a post by one of my favorite sports reporters, Danny O’Neil from the Seattle Times. He posted a blog on the Aaron Curry situation and how it’s trending on Twitter. For those of you not following Seattle Seahawks football, Aaron Curry is the team’s recently benched linebacker who was their first round draft pick three years ago. Curry for all accounts is a hard worker, good teammate, and a physical specimen. He just hasn’t gotten it done on the field and it cost him his starting job. O’Neil points out that Twitter is going gangbusters on Curry’s demotion with Curry acknowledging friends, foes, and fans on his account.

For his part, Curry has been gracious. He doesn’t engage the loudmouths who heckle him from behind the cyberspace curtain. He has kept his composure and professionalism You can read some of the comments on O’Neil’s blog. That being said, Curry has also acknowledged that he would welcome finding a new home, specifically back in his home state of North Carolina with the Panthers. And the beat goes on as does the trending on Twitter.

Here is why you need to take notice. Curry is an employee under contract with the Seattle Seahawks. He is engaging in real-time conversations with both people he knows and doesn’t know regarding his job on Twitter. He also openly agrees that he would be willing to find a new situation. This will undoubtedly continue. You have employees who have access to Twitter. They may not have the same high-profile as an NFL player, but they probably have an account and use it as a tool at some level.

  • What if they got on their Twitter account and started talking about their job?
  • What if they started openly soliciting their services to others?
  • What if they were unhappy and unlike Curry were willing to voice that displeasure?
  • How would you know it was happening?
  • How could you mitigate damage to your reputation?
  • Do you have a communications plan that includes the personal and professional use of Twitter?
  • How long are you willing to keep your head in the sand?

Here is the bottom line. If you don’t have a plan for dealing with social media and your business, you are going to be as obsolete as the iPhone 4 will be in about a week. Your employees can Tweet, Friend, Post, Blog, Like, Look, Poke, Prod and a whole bunch of other things all from the comfort of their office chair on their own personal phone. They can talk about you, your business, your clients, your prospects, and anything else they want. What have you done to protect yourself?

Here’s what you need to do. It’s painless and free.

  1. Create a social media plan for your organization. Do a little research and find out what the “hot” social media platforms are. I guarantee you that they are changing and shifting constantly. Start with Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google +, and You Tube first and then move on.
  2. The plan should identify potential perils, what you consider to be professional etiquette and expectations, professional reference during personal use, and disciplinary actions if violated.
  3. Engage your employees in the process. Have them craft it. If you cram it down their throats it will come across as threats and Big Brother-ish. If they are part of the solution, you may find that they do a better job of policing themselves!
  4. Find someone in your organization who will be responsible for monitoring social media platforms. This need not be a full-time job. You might just find someone who likes doing it, is good at it, and will watch out for your backside.
  5. Monitor and maintain. Once you start this process, make sure it stays relevant. Technology changes and so should your policy. review and update it every 3-6 months. Continually ask for feedback from your employees. Be consistent in discipline, but also reward for good behavior. Find ways to leverage social media for good, not evil.

Bonus. You may not be covered for claims arising out of social media issues. Your Commercial General Liability policy excludes coverage for personal and advertising injury arising out of “electronic board and chat rooms.” That’s social media platforms and your blog. You can find coverage through special policies and most professional liability policies. Your next step should be to contact your insurance broker and ask the simple question, “Am I covered for liability arising out of social media?” If it takes him or her longer than about 3 seconds to answer, you may have a problem.

Take note of what’s happening to employers around you (like the Seahawks) and how their employees (like Curry) can impact the organization and then look inward. You may need to work on your own game!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled day…

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Social Un-Security: Social Media is all “trick” and no” tweet” for your business insurance

Social Media has captivated the globe and has changed how we communicate personally and professionally forever. And the scary thing is, it’s ever evolving and changing. The good news for you as a business is that you have more ways to spread your message, sell your products, and profess your opinions for free to the world. The bad news is, that your insurance may not have kept up with the times and is stuck in 1979.

Your Commercial General Liability policy has a coverage part called Personal & Advertising Injury. This coverage part has a sub-limit of liability that should be equal to your Occurrence limit. Personal & Advertising Injury is meant to protect you from among other things, libel, slander, defamation of character and other grisly things that you do that could hurt someone’s feelings. Seriously, it’s meant to protect you from negligently damaging someone’s reputation, or infringing on copyright or intellectual property. This is more of an issue today as technology blurs those lines, so it’s an important coverage.

The standard General Liability policy (ISO CG00 01 12 07) will exclude injury “arising out of an electronic chat room or bulletin board the insured hosts, owns, or over which the insured exercise control” (ISO CG00 01 12 07).  As well as Personal and Advertising injury “arising out of the infringement of copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property rights” (ISO CG00 01 12 07).  This includes data privacy breaches and claims resulting from a data privacy breach.

In English, this means that your tweets, blog posts, Facebook notes, and other commentary on social media sites are not contemplated by outdated verbiage still being employed in General Liability policies. Certainly, you can fight it, however you know that means extra time, money, and anxiety. Bottom line, your tweets aren’t covered!

There are increasing numbers of case law and opinions surrounding this issue. My job today isn’t to bore you with a litany of these, but to alert you to your vulnerability.

So how can you get in trouble? Let’s face it; the most intriguing blogs and tweets are the ones that offer contrarian, thought provoking, and often outlandish commentary. In sending out your opinions over cyberspace channels, you may be critical of competitors, inadvertently offend another company or individual, and/or infringe on someone’s brand. If they sure you, you’re on your own.

So what do you do? Fortunately, the insurance companies have found a way to protect you. For consultants like me who own a professional liability insurance policy, the coverage is included there. For other businesses, there is a fairly recent policy that has been created called Cyber Technology insurance. It’s meant to protect your liability for issues related to technology like social media, data breach, and other nasty things like that.

You need to talk with an insurance professional – your broker, agent, or consultant. It’s crucial that you examine your company’s social media practices, including how your employees use it.

Tom Bell an attorney with Perkins Coie, in an article published in Computerworld states:

“Companies are entitled to free speech, but their commercial speech is less protected. The lower protection comes in the form of a higher standard of care for truth and accuracy. So, when company employees participate in social media on behalf of their employer, they subject the company to the same risks as a newspaper or individual, but with less protection.”

Employing a social media policy will help you assess your vulnerability, create policy that works for your operations, and set up a plan to transfer your unwanted risk to an insurance policy that adequately protects your liability and assets.

Your company probably should be active at some level in social media. If it’s not now, you’re probably falling behind the game at some level. Like any other risk you face in business, you need to make this part of a good risk management policy.

Don’t find yourself on the wrong side of a tweet. Go out and become “socially acceptable!”

 

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Does Social Media Build Strong Relationships?

No.

I’m certain I will get a lot of people responding with contempt over my short answer, and that’s okay. I ask that you hear me out.

I believe social media platforms can be an excellent aid in enhancing relationships. The ability to communicate, share, and provide value is clear. However, I sincerely believe that in order to build that relationship, you must have begun the formation in a more personal manner.

Now you might be saying, “Dan, this is just like what pen pals did in the pre-computer age.” Yes, that’s a credible argument. However, pen pals usually were able to scribble more than 140 characters. They were able to write with a broader vocabulary and the anticipation of the next correspondence was part of the fun.

Consider these questions:

1. Just because you are a friend on Facebook or have someone following you on Twitter, does that mean you’d invite them to your next barbecue?

2. How many of your friends or followers have you met in person or talked to on the phone? That’s usually one of the first clues that you have a strong relationship.

3. Do they trust you enough to pay their hard-earned cash to purchase your product or service?

Maybe part of the problem is our definition of “relationship.” When I use the term, I mean that you and the other person know and trust each other to the point of having complete confidence in their affinity for your best interest. I believe many people consider the word “relationship” akin to an acquaintance.

Social media platforms are a good way to keep in touch with friends, family, and business associates. It’s a great way to find old high school and college chums. And, it’s a fine way to disseminate your opinions, value, and opportunities. However, it can also create a tremendous amount of noise, vulgarity, and wasted time.

Start by building relationships from scratch the old-fashioned way and then work on enhancing them through social media. Building strong personal and professional relationships takes time. Don’t be in such a rush to amass great numbers, rather focus on quality.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Twitter Identity Switch = Bad News

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”  Oscar Wilde 1892

Oops.  I have a new experience to chalk up.

Last weekend I was an emcee for our Rotary District Conference.  Two of my fellow Rotarians thought it would be great to Twitter some of the events of the evening just in case any media outlets or journalists that follow me find interest.  “Not a bad idea,” I thought.  I lent my username and password to one of them since I would be preoccupied.  Oops.  I forgot that my Twitter account links to my Facebook, so every Tweet shows up on my Facebook page.

That night I found 15 posts over a 2 1/2 hour time frame.  Most of which didn’t have a lot of interest unless you were there and knew what was going on.  To make matters worse, it clogged up the system for my other friends and one actually hid my posts! Ouch!

Bottom line, those posts actually violate my best practices for Twitter and Facebook.  My friend had no idea that the Tweets would end up on my Facebook.  The whole issue was my fault.  Here’s my lessons learned…

1 – Guard your Twitter username and password like your credit cards.  Don’t let others, even if well-intentioned, change your pattern of communication.

2 -If you mess up apologize – like this.  My apologies to my Facebook friends who had no interest in those posts.  I want you to read the others, so please give me a mulligan!

Remember, etiquette is important in Twitter and Facebook, too.  Make sure you control your communications and stay out of hot water.

Cheers,

red signature

I had

Twitter and Facebook for Non-Profits

Are you part of a non-profit organization that wants to increase its awareness and revenues without a huge out-of-pocket expense?  More and more organizations are using social media leaders Twitter and Facebook to do just that.  I’ve written a three-page position paper that will help your organization create a game plan for this marketing opportunity.  To get this free paper, just e-mail me at dan@danweedin.com and I will send you a PDF.

Cheers,

red signature

P.S. I’m holding a special teleseminar training on Twitter for Business on April 22nd.  You can use the same strategies for your non-profit.  To register, click on the “Featured Items” tab at the top of this blog.

Twitter Twaining Teleconference

Are you confused about how Twitter works?  Several friends I have on Facebook are.  They asked me to help them identify its uses for business.  That sounded like a good idea so “VIOLA!”

On April 22nd, I will be holding a teleseminar on how to effectively and efficiently use Twitter to enhance, grow, and/or brand your business.  You will learn how to integrate it with Facebook for added value.  Your investment is only $15 and includes an MP3 download after the event.  If you can’t make it live, you still get the MP3 to listen to.  Only 50 lines are available so don’t wait.

P.S.  Here’s my bonus for the first 20 who register – You get my educational CD Panic to Power: Swift & Simple Strategies Anyone Can Use.  That’s a $20 value by itself.  What are you waiting for?  Register to Tweet today!  Go to my Featured Items page to learn more or click here to register now.

Cheers,

red signature

Twitter for Business

I’ve been asked to hold a training class for business people (or any “people” for that matter) who are interested in learning more about Twitter as a business application.  Ironic that the request came through one of my friends on Facebook.  Social media at it’s finest.

I have not set a date yet, but want to get a critical mass of 10 people at $15 per person.  It will be a teleseminar so you can sit in the comfort of your own home and be online as the training is held.  I am looking for people to confirm to me that they are interested.  There will be an MP3 download so you don’t have to be present on the date.

If you are interested, send me an e-mail to dan@danweedin.com and let me know.

Cheers,

red signature