CommCore Blog and News

NFL Should Throw a Penalty Flag at Its Crisis Response

So, let’s get this straight: a packed New Orleans Superdome, billions watching on  TV during a 34 minute blackout and no one from the NFL either says anything to the crowd, goes on TV or does an interview with CBS?  We were all literally in the dark as to what caused the blackout at the Superdome. The gag at the gym of one of our employees this morning was, “What does NFL stand for? No F*****g Lights!”
One of the first rules of crisis communications is to show care and concern and tell us what you do know.  It would have been very easy for an NFL official to track down someone – anyone at CBS – and say:  “We’re not sure about the cause of the power outage. We’re working on it and we’ll get back to you as soon as we know more.”

As usual, when there’s a vacuum of official information (not talking about referees here), the vacuum will be filled with speculation.  CBS, without its anchors able to broadcast, finally got the sideline reporters going.

The whole scene remind me of the 1976 Presidential debate between President Gerald Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter, when power went out in the Walnut St. Theater, in Philadelphia for 27 minutes.  As the late Wally Pfister, then a producer at ABC News said:  “I had the leader of the free world and the next leader of the free world shifting nervously from one foot to the other as we tried to figure out what was going on.  I knew it was serious when the Secret Service knocked on the door of our production truck.”

I’m sure the NFL has a set of crises plans for the Super Bowl.  They need a few revisions before next year.

As a side note, the NFL was certainly trying to improve its reputation during Super Bowl XLVII with its NFLEvolution ads.  Pretty expensive way to say that we’re taking on head injuries and concussions.  But that was a PLANNED reputation  enhancement; not so good on the spontaneous response.