In public relations, you are always trying to do whatever you can to avoid a crisis. Unfortunately, there are almost too many examples of their being a PR crisis within an organization or athlete/celebrity. As a person like me with a Sport Management background, I tend to focus on crisises within sports. It seems that almost every week, you see a crisis happen to an athlete or sport organization and they end up all over ESPN. One of the biggest PR crisis in recent years was the Lebron James “Decision” press conference where he decided he would take his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.
This “decision” was a PR disaster! normally there is not a problem with a star player deciding he wants to go to a new team, especially when he is doing it through free agency. The problem with Lebron is that his “decision” was very mishandled. He was a hometown hero from Akron Ohio and played for the Cleavland Cavaliers. He had everything going for him and he made it appear that he would be staying in Cleavland in search of his first NBA Title. Instead, he threw an hour long press conference where at the end he stated that he was “taking his talents to South Beach!” People were very angry at him and felt he let the state of Ohio down. His jerseys were burned and he went from being the hero to turning into the villain. I do not know who his PR people were, but I do not know how they let him do this. He could have easily not done a televised press conference on ESPN during prime time and instead, just made a quick statement that he was going to Miami.
According to Guy Bergstrom from about.com 1 of the mistakes was media overexposure. “ESPN, sports radio and newspaper columnists were already devoted amazing amounts of time and ink on what LeBron James entering free agency would mean for the NBA.””Instead, he heaped more hype on himself by talking ESPN into airing a one-hour, live TV special in prime time to essentially say two words: “Miami Heat.”” This made him come across as very selfish and a traitor. He went from being the most liked person in sports to the most hated person in sports! How do you fix this crisis?
Lebron has done a great job at restoring his image. According to Kevin Allen from prdaily.com, “The Decision,” was that it helped generate more than $2 million for the Boys and Girls Club. The organization used the money to build new facilities and bring in new equipment, including computers. He also has done a great job at making himself a very likeable and fun person. He is very interactive with the fans as well. A man hit a half court shot to win $75,000 and Lebron ran out on the court and tackled him and celebrated with him and that helps make him look like a really good guy. ANother example is how he had the whole team make a very funny “Harlem Shake” video. He also has apologized to Cleavland and has done many other good things to repair his image, including finally winning championships. Even the people in Cleavland hopes that he comes back to play for them again. He has now returned to being the most liked person in basketball and maybe even sports and this is an example of one of the worst PR moves in history, but best PR turn arounds ever.
Guy Bergstrom, The LeBron James PR Disaster,
Kevin Allen, March 5, 2013, Likeable Lebron: How King James rehabbed his reputation