PLANNING FOR THE INEVITABLE: SPORTS CRISES AND DEVELOPING MEDIA SAVVY
(Tuesday, June 9 -11:15 a.m. -12:30 p.m.)
My name's John Swofford from the University of North Carolina. A good friend of ours, Roy Kramer, told me at a NACDA meeting several years ago, it seems that as athletic directors, we really live from the morning edition to the afternoon edition. I asked Roy what he meant by that. He replied, "When you're out of town, you call in the morning. If you got through the morning edition without a crisis, you're OK. But you worry about the afternoon edition and you call again at 5 p.m. If you got through the afternoon edition you feel, as an athletic director, you've had a pretty good day." While that's maybe somewhat exaggerated, all of us at times go through periods when we feel that way and can certainly relate to what Roy had to say.
From personal experience, I can tell you that our speaker this morning is an expert in a couple of areas I feel are very important to us. The area of crises management and working with the media. For more than a decade, Kathleen Hessert was asking tough questions as a TV anchor, reporter and talk show host interviewing U.S. presidents, world dignitaries and leaders of business and industry. In 1984, she founded a company called, Communication Concepts, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's a speaking, training and consulting f1rm which focuses on crisis planning and media and communications techniques. Her clients with Communications Concepts range from Fortune 500 companies to the U.S. government and Miss America.
In 1989, Kathleen expanded her efforts into the sports field and introduced another part of her company called Sports Media Challenge. Ms. Hessert is the author and voice of Winning the Media Game, a guide for NFL players as well as media play book. Each of those are distributed to each player and team in the National Football League. She has also worked with a number of college programs, including our program at North Carolina, Notre Dame and a number of others. She has worked with Olympic speed skater, Dan Jansen, the U.S. Tennis Association and with various professional golfers. Her most recently signed client is Davis Love III who is certainly receiving a lot of media attention.
She and her company have had tremendous success in terms of crisis planning and, if you're like me, I would guess that you have a suspicion that we do tremendously well in college athletics. It is difficult to plan for crises, but it's certainly something that we live with each and every day almost. Kathleen Hessert is a member of the National Speakers Association, the American Society for Training and Development and the Radio and Television News Directors Association. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Ms. Kathleen Hessert from Sports Media Challenge.
Thank you John. A college athletic department's image used to be clearly defined by your division status in the NCAA, by your win/lose record, by the size of your budget and the name of your coach. That image was etched in stone. In the world of college athletics you knew the rules. In fact you or many of your predecessors actually made those rules. Athletic directors were keeper of the games and guardians of those who played them. It was power and zest for competition and unadulterated funds insulating your stadium walls. No one can convincingly point to the day, the moment in time, when all of that changed, but it has.
There's still power and competition reigns king. There's also a little bit of fun now and then. But, the world of college athletics is daily fraught with challenges never before faced and by outside scrutiny so intense that even a perceived saint would win. Just ask Michael Jordan. Today, your department's image is defined as much by outside forces as by those within, by the nebulous as well as by the simple black and white. Race riots reek havoc on lives.
Academic integrity, media rapport and gender equity defmed your image just as convincingly as ticket sales and TV fees build your budget. Which is more valuable or at risk today is up for grabs. But, I don't think there's anybody in this audience who would doubt that both are entwined forever. No matter what reasons brought you to your position or what route you took,the job of athletic director today is measurably different than that job was in the past So too are the skills and perspective needed to lead your institution ahead.
Crises planning and issues management are essential tools for today's enlightened corporate executive. They're tools of survival. In 1985, there was a survey taken of Fortune 500 CEOs. At that time, 89 percent of the respondents said that crises in business was as inevitable as death and taxes. The signs of crisis management were in their infancy at that point At that time, only 50 percent of companies had formal crises management plans. I'm not talking about an evacuation plan. I'm talking about a comprehensive, formal plan that would take into consideration many different areas.
The change in realities of corporate America, increasing central, state and local regulations, squeezed budgets, public and press demands for corporate accountability all have fon:ed a cultural change from the outside in. Seven years later, comprehensive crisis planning is commonplace in our nation's board rooms. Corporate strategic planning focuses on new markets and new challenges. More than an exercise in projecting good and bad, it's usual for a corporation to forecast crises, to intervene when necessary (hopefully in advance) and to plan for what is going to be inevitable. Crisis is as standard for them as it is for you.
How do I define a crisis? A crisis is a crucial or decisive point or situation within your organization. It can present both danger and opportunity. We've got to consider both. Whatever it is, it has widespread implications throughout your organization. It is not tiny, little localized situation, but one that will affect your whole department and possibly the school, the conference and college athletics in general. You are your department's CEO in most cases. You're responsible, like your corporate counterparts, for employees and multi-million dollar budgets, for products services, for customers and you have all of the attending risks and rewards. I take that back because if you read the media today about CEOs and what they're getting paid, you might not get the same rewards, but you do indeed have the risks.
A crisis in the world of sports, as in business, can occur today with little or no warning. It's anytime or anywhere. It's got no respect for an organization's size, budget or focus. Major League Baseball did not say, "COI on nature, give me an earthquake during the World Series". But, it happened. Certainly the Lakers didn't beg to have it's metal tested when they discovered that Magic Johnson had the HIV virus. No one invites NCAA viOlatiOI criminal charges against its coaches or its star players, financial struggles or racial riots. But in the wake of recent high profIle sports crises, we decided to go out and survey you and your pro counterparts in professional football, basketball, baseball, the leagues, the conferences to do a national survey on how prepared Sports entities and its leaders are to deal with crises today.
We're looking at a number of factors here. When I talk about sports crises, it could be almost anything. We're talking about AIDS. I asked one athletic director if he had an AIDS policy. Four years ago, I was sitting ii corporate board room with an issues management team and I said, "Let's consider AIDS." The public relations per! at that multi-billion dollar company said, "Oh, we don't have to worry about that." The human resources person fl that same company said, "What do you mean we don't have to worry about that? We almost had the third shift at such-and-such a plant walk off last week because there was a rumor of AIDS." So, we're talking about lots of different things here.
We're talking about our amateur and professional sports organizations ready to face crises, the most obvious ones, the most common ones or the seemingly improbable one. AIDS with a major athlete or a major sports personality was improbable until less than one year ago. That is, if you didn't do issues management. If you look back at what the lifestyles of athletes on the road were and that AIDS was an emerging disease that was affecting millions of people, it was a potential crisis. Some organizations could have looked at it and done some preventive measures in terms of education at that time. Education and preventive measures that are now standard operating procedures within their organizations.
Are sports organizations fonnulating plans to deal with impending disasters in a more professional, timely and effective manner as they do in corporate America? Are they instituting issues management? I'm talking issues management as an executive responsibility to help prevent crises or at least to dull their effects. Essentially, have you? Have sports professionals in this room and elsewhere learned to deal with the present and the future struggle, be they someone else's or your own, to adequately prepare for the future? We sent 846 crises surveys to processionB teams, leagues, conferences and federations and to your Division I-A athletic departments. The response rate was remarkably good. When I say remarkably good, I'm talking about an 18.2 percent response rate. I'm told that a 10 percent rate on a one-page survey is expected to be good. We had an 18.2 percent response rate on a five-page survey with no incentive to respond to that survey.
When we asked the questions, some of the results were predictable and others were really very jarring. A staggering 82 percent of total respondents have experienced organizational crises and survived. When we look at colleges, the response rate rose to 84 percent. That means 84 percent of those who responded said they've already faced at least one crisis and probably were in the midst of one right then. So, we asked what type of crises are facing college athletics today. The crises that were listed were riots at games, death of an athlete, bomb threats, crumbling facilities and labor disputes among a number of others.
What is unimaginable to me is that despite 82 percent have already faced one or more crisis, only 65 percent o the total respondents expected to face a crisis within the next year. In college, we're talking actually 70 percent of college respondents said they will face crises in another year. What happened to the 12 percent who have already faced them? Do you think they're going to go away? Thirty-five percent of your ranks believe that crises were not in your future at all.
They were unlikely to face crises within the next year. Granted, what is a crisis to some is not even a potential emergency to someone else. It may be just a blip on your screen. But you have to ask yourself when you read the newspapers, "Is this at all realistic?" Fifty-three percent of you were resigned to crises ahead. Fourteen percent said that crises was very likely, and another 14 percent claims that crises was totally unavoidable. The total again, 70 percent of college responses said that crises will challenge them within the next year.
Now we look at something else. You've identified your vulnerability. If you said crises will hit, you know you're vulnerable. How many people take precautions for what they see ahead? Some of you may subscribe to the theory that lightening won't strike twice in the same place, but that's a myth of nature and it's obviously a myth of sports administration. Some of you may believe that you've been so staled by past crises, they've been so tough on you and you've learned your lesson that you are now prepared that your department can ward off almost anything that explodes in front of you. The concept is laudable and it's even possible in many situations. But, when we looked at the other results of that survey, they didn't bear out We're talking a total survey responses. Nearly three quarters had absolutely no crisis plan at all.
Of your members, 73 percent said mey had no plan. A word of caution here. When we conduct crisis audits wimin corporations, we routinely ask several people wimin mat organization how prepared mey are and what mey're prepared for. Most often, one person's perception is not anomer person's perception.
I have to go back to the L.A. riots right now. I don't know how many of you heard them say they had a plan to deal with the riots in L.A. But the watch commander said that if they had a plan, he didn't know about it. They didn't even have bullets for their guns. But Gates budgeted $1 million in overtime just in case a riot would occur. A year in advance he budgeted $1 million in overtime to have more police out in the streets once the verdict was made known. But he didn't call those people in. In fact, he let the people leave their watch and the new people came in without asking for overtime and without having the people who were there to deal with it. We're talking perception of reality here. The guy in charge said there's a plan to deal with it and we're well prepared, but the people who have to implement the plan don't know zilch about it
Ask when a crisis occurs, it's usually in the middle of the night. Who's on duty in the middle of the night? If you have anybody, it's usually your least prepared people. Your greenest, newest managers because once you get a little seniority, you can get some sleep, or at least you hope to.
When we talk about perception and reality,we've got to look overall. We have a plan. We don't have a plan. The plan works. The plan doesn't work. It looks good on paper. It doesn't look good on paper. So, you may
think that your department is well prepared to face the crisis. Your Sill is frantic because in his or her professional opinion, the department is seriously floundering. The immediacy of communication heightens the immediacy of the crisis. It's as simple as that I spent almost 10 years in television and the technology 12 years ago was remarkably different than the technology today. At that time, it might have taken us one-half hour to hear what was going on the police radio and get to the scene, set up our live-eye trucks and start to do a remote report Now, it doesn't even take that much time. Because in many of your communities, in New Orleans, Chicago and in Charlotte, and that's just to name a few, they now have cameras that are stationary and set up at strategic points within your community with cameras rolling all of the time. Literally 24-hours a day, there's a picture and sound being fed into the control room in your local T .V. stations so that if something erupts, they already have the footage and they don't have to send anyone there for the fIrSt report that comes out
When you look at the change in budgets, you have problems. There's no question about that. When I started out in the early 7Os, when I was at Notre Dame and St Mary's, I worked for a local radio station and they had one- man bands. One person would shoot the film, do the reporting, ask the questions and come back and edit it all together. Then, we got very elaborate. We had someone to shoot the videotape, a reporter to ask the questions, a producer to put all of the pieces together and we had someone called the grip to carry our stuff. Now, they've gone back because of budgetary requirement and constraints and they have one-man bands again. One person going out shooting, asking the questions, editing, writing the story and putting it all together for the news. Guess what? Because there's only one person involved, because of the new technology, they can get your story out immediately whether you want it out or not.
So the immediacy of a crisis is very different than it was in the past. You may be able to actually squelch the real crisis. But the perception of what that crisis is and your readiness and your leadership in dealing with that crisis often changes. Are you willing and able, and are the channels of communications set up and made to communicate within your department? I'm talking in a timely manner here. Are you willing and able to communicate to the people who have to hear your message? We're talking the university or the college administration. We're talking about your student-athletes who are out on the street, answering telephones, who people recognize on a day-to-day basis. We're talking your coaches, your booster clubs, your athletic advisory council and we're talking the media. Are you ready, willing and able to communicate your message and your position to these people in a timely and effective manner? You don't communicate to all of them in the same manner if you are to be effective.
In our crisis survey, there are two parts. The fIrst part talks about readiness. The second part talks about survival. Those who have survived a crisis tell us what kind of crisis they survived, what works, what didn't work. There was one question that asked what was most lacking that would have helped you better deal with the crisis that you had to deal with, and the number one response was the willingness and/or ability to communicate internally.
Most of your own people are your allies and they have the potential to be ambassadors of good will. If they were forgotten in frantic attempts to deal with the hurling problems that you have to deal with from your adversaries, then they're not going to be out there to help you. They're going to ask, "Why don't we know? What is our position? Are we right? Are we wrong?" They will not stand up for you. If your own people don't have the facts, they can't defend you. That's a valuable resource that is lost. When disaster strikes, your organization suddenly has to explain itself to an information-hungry public, many of which know you superficially adapt. How do most of them know you? Through the media.
Let's talk beyond the media and we will go back to the media. Right now, I'm looking at the finances because the finances are always going to be a consideration. They are a major consideration here. Eighty percent of the respondents claimed that a crisis will impact their future revenue sources immediately and/or for a long period of
time. Eighty percent said it will have an effect Where is the money? I ask the question, "How many of you have a budget to prepare for crises and how many of you have a budget to deal with crisis?" In corporate America, you don't have a plan if you don't have a budget The same holds true here.
Preparation dollars. Sixty-four percent of college respondents said they have absolutely zero budget to plan for a crisis that occurs every day. We have eighteen percent who said they had minimal. Thirteen percent said they
have satisfactory budget, five percent said they have lots and plenty to deal with to plan for an emergency. When
you look at response dollars, it's not that much different We're talking 50-some percent say they have no money to deal with crises. A small percentage said they have minimal. We've got those who say O.K. are about 18 percent and 16 percent said they had money to actually deal with crises as they needed. So, a little bit more money is there in the budgets to deal with the crises, but not enough from the beginning.
Budgets aren't the only thing you have to consider when you have a crisis. You've got to consider the impact to your image as well. Crises affect your image. How much? Most people say it would do some damage to the overall image. Very few people say no damage to the crisis that they have already dealt with. Image is dollars, period. As simple as that If your image is tarnished today, your budget will be tarnished down the road. Where do you begin? Where do you start in terms of crisis planning?
This is a sizeable undertaking. This is not something you do quickly and it's not a hit-and-run type process. Some of you with colleges and universities and others who are aware of what's happening in the business world have heard of "TQM", Total Quality Management You've heard that quality is a profit. It's not something that you attain and it's yours and you can sit back and relax. This is a process and it's evolving constantly to deal with the changes in the environment and within your organization. It begins with the formation of an issues management team. What is an Issues Management Team and who should be on this team? The teams should consist of a diverse group of people. They should come from all of the major areas of your organization. Specialty areas. You should have someone with legal background. What are the problems that should face us for facilities management? You've got all of these specialists coming together and looking at their own little crises and putting them into a pot
Let's talk about sports information because I think this is a crucial issue here. In corporate America, the PR people are the flack. They end up cleaning up the mess. I don't want to deal with the media. I don't want to talk to people. You handle it. That's what your job is. I fmd that in college athletics and in professional athletics is very much the same image. But, there's something else there. Sports information directors are often viewed as limited to being statisticians. I'm amazed with the amount of work they have, just putting publications together and putting statistics together on the games as to who played what, where and how, and they don't act as strategists. If they don't act as strategists, is it because they don't have the ability or they have been given that wherewithal? If they haven't been given the go ahead by their CEOs, you the athletic directors, then how can they help you deal with a crisis that is going to occur? How can they help you present that crisis? If you're looking at the reality and they're looking at the perception, those two are both issues that you have to deal with. If they're educated to look at the perceptions and the realities and be able to differentiate betwoon those without ignoring either t then they can help you stop maybe certain decisions that end up exploding in your faces down the line.
I am well aware dIat many sports infonnation directors don't want to be more dIan statisticians, don't know how to act as more dIan statisticians, but I'm saying dIe responsibility here should be coming from dIe leadership, from dIe adIletic directors saying, "We need you to be doing something else. We need you to be more dIan statisticians, to tell dIe media, who you know and dIe public who you know, how are dIey going to react if we make dIis decision."
How best can we position dIat decision if it's going to be an unfavorable one out dIere. It takes a different type of sports information department to make dIat happen.
When we're looking overall at the issues management team, it is meant to be your eyes and your ears watching for the indicators and developing trends that are out there. When I talk about developing trends and indicators, AIDS
was out there. It was well publicized in the general population. I'm not saying just look within sports, not even within college sports, but look out at the community as a whole. What are issues there? What are trends that are developing? When you talk gender equity, there were threads of that coming way back when in the general population and leaders look for those trends and ask themselves on a regular basis, how do we apply what is happening there? How do we look at it in terms of our organization? Should we do anything about it or not? Should we just sit on it for the time being? That is an option.
The Lakers and Magic Johnson dealt with that crisis, and indeed it was a crisis, dealt with it far better than most. But, not well enough because it took at least a month before Magic Johnson made the message that not just safe sex is going to save you, but abstaining is going to save you from getting AIDS. Why did he make that initial mistake? Because Magic Johnson was talking to his peers and to adults out there. He forgot that he is not just speaking to them, but that my nine-year old listens to Magic Johnson. He doesn't have sex yet, at least I hope. We look at those names and we say, "Who are you speaking to." Magic Johnson's message was meant for one public initially, and when he heard the outcry and he thought it through even more, when the immediate crisis was beginning to subside, he realized he had to send a different message. The lifestyle of the athletes on the road says, "We're promiscuous." With AIDS out there and with promiscuity on the road in terms of professional and even college athletes, someone should have seen that coming. They should have been better prepared to deal with it. It was about six weeks later that someone came out in Canada said that a woman who died of AIDS had had sex with 50 players in the National Hockey League. It goes from there into every which direction. Now, measures are being taken because people are being educated about some of these things.
The people who are on issues management teams have to come at it from lots of different angles. You put all of those issues together and ask yourself what is the worst possible thing that our competition or our components can thrust in our face right now. What is the most common? What is the most probable now? Then, you take it from
Are you likely to face crises? Many people who responded to that survey didn't fill out likely, unavoidable or anything else, but they filled in on the side, "How can we tell?" You're asking us to predict the future. Yes, but with tools to predict the future. The tools are looking at your past and similar organizations like yours and events of crises that have occurred. Look at the changes in environment that you're dealing with today. Look at lots of things that would help you predict the future. Even if you over-predict, you're much safer and you can sit back, smile and say, "Whew, that one didn't hit me", rather than, "Oh my God, how am I going to deal with this", because you never looked at it a step further.
You do have a stake in crisis sportscasting, but you need to have a commitment to ask what is the worst. I talked to athletic departments who project years into the future for how many ticket sales they're going to have for television rights, what ball games will be on, but you don't predict for the crisis that could be in your lap tomorrow - these are the real problems. These are the perceived problems. Now, this is how we need to respond and then test those responses.
Simple question. Last year I looked at what was happening out there. At the PGA Tour, lightning struck and people were literally laying on the ground. Now, is that the fIrSt time lightning ever struck on a golf course in the middle of a summer afternoon? When you don't just have your star players but you've got all of these fans who paid to be there yet, it was an absolute mess both with the media and with the PGA Tour and the people at the tournament because they didn't know what to do at that time. I looked at that and I asked an athletic director about lightning, a potential crisis. What kind of seats do you have in your stadium. He said, "Metal." Do you ever have games on a summer afternoon when you might have lightning and storms? He answered, "Yes." Do you have an evacuation policy that everybody knows and that you could make work from your stadium? He answered, "Well, no." If there is a storm and you have thousands of people in your stadium and you can't evacuate them, what is your liability? How many people are trampled on the way out? Do you have the ability and the willingness to stop a game if there's lightning and thunder? Yes, before the game Starts, but then the responsibility goes to the referee. Someone told me yesterday they were in a stadium where there was a tornado warning, not a watch, but a warning. They just announced this and whatever you wanted to do about it, just do it I don't know about you, but there would be a little bit of concern there for me. How responsible is your department and you individually if something like that occurs?
In corporate America today, do you know what is driving crisis planning more than anything else? It is that they can be held civically and criminally liable. Corporate executives, which include yourself, criminally and civically liable in the event that something happens. In Charlotte, North Carolina, there was a major disaster at a chicken plant and the doors were locked. You know who's going to jail? The owner of the company, the director of manufacturing who was stationed there and the plant manager. They are an going to jail. They've gone bankrupt You are at risk as individuals as well as organization. You've got to consider that.
In terms of forecasting of crises, what kinds of questions do you ask? Say you've got your list of potential crises that comes from your issues management team. Now, you decide what is the crises impact value. How much
will it hurt? Ask yourself what is the potential of this crisis escalating in intensity? You give it a one to 10 rating. We're going to get calculating here. Then ask yourself on an individual crisis, will it escalate in intensity? Say it has the potential of escalating in intensity to an eight on a scale of 10. Does it have the potential to draw strong media and/or government scrutiny? Give it a one to 10. Ask what potential it has to interfere with your daily operation. On that survey, when we asked those who had survived crises, how much it interrupted daily operation, there was a significant impact. You cannot do your job in areas that the crisis impacts if you're dealing with the crisis itself. You don't have enough hands. Will it jeopardize your image individually and as an organization? Again, give it a one to 10. Finally ask the question, will it hurt your bottom line? One to 10.
You've got five questions and a one to 10 response for each. Divide it by five and you now have a crisis impact value of, let's say, a seven. It's significant. The impact of your organization could be very strong.
The next step is to ask what's the probability of it occurring. If this happens, we're going to be hurt big time, but the probability is minuscule. You may decide intentionally to do nothing but monitor the situation for the time being. You will give that responsibility to a specific person. Issues management doesn't happen just once a year. Whenever there's a major change, whether it's a turnover in your department, whether it's a major change in college athletics in general or a new president of the university, you should do something to monitor these situations. If you've got high impact of that crisis and you've got high probability, then action needs to be taken despite whether there are dollars in the budget to do it. The risk you are taking fmancially with liability and everything down the line is even greater. Only you and your team, being strategists and looking for trends, and the reality that is facing you right there, can actually do that.
What are the issues that could cause you the most problem in the future? The crises that were listed were the NCAA probes, obviously, gambling, drug abuse, anything that is criminal in nature, gender equity problems and stadium security. I have lists of dozens and dozens of potential crises, but these were the biggest. What are you doing about them? Prevention, literally, makes the difference. Prevention lessens the risks that you will take, but how many organizations actually take preventive measures based on the realities that they are dealing with? Again, this is the total group of respondents, colleges, pros and conferences. Pros take a little bit more prevention. Conferences take a tiny bit more prevention. Less than half of those organizations who saw crises ahead actually did anything about preventing those crises from happening. Is that a good business decision? I would suggest that it's not.
Let's go back to the overall game plan, the crisis plan itself and how you deal with that crisis plan. How do you put a plan together? Is it some elaborate thing that you put together. For some organizations, it's got to be elaborate. But, for most organizations, it's nothing elaborate whatsoever. I look at crisis planning like an emergency room in a hospital. You want to make sure your efforts get the best results. There may be an incident category, an emergency category and a crisis category, knowing full well that an incident this minute can turn into a full-fledged crisis the next minute. Choosing the criteria here for those categories is very important. The categories have to be broad enough that new crises will fit in and you at least have a road map with which to deal with it If you're on the road and your organization is having a crisis and they can't get in touch with you by phone, who has to deal wiu that crisis? Give them something to start with until the big guns can get there. It's like saying when the lights go out, do you know where the flashlight is? Make sure there are fresh batteries in that flashlight so you know it will work.
For most, if you don't have a plan you can't begin with that. We're looking at a winning game plan. You've got to look at what is right for your particular organization in terms of planning. Elaborate, simple or whatever, but comprehensive enough that you at least have something to begin with. Crisis plan objectives are literally very simple. When we talk about crisis plan objectives, we're talking about making certain that you know what the problem is and that people are designated to deal with that problem. Union Carbide had a crisis plan for their domestic operation and not their international operation. Where did the crisis hit? In India. They designated people to shut down that plant when the explosion occurred. But, nobody was designated for start-up of that facility until they were given the go ahead six months later. Which means that the start-up began six months down the line and took another three months until they were operational and lost significant time and money as a result of it.
We look at what are die media sU'ategies. Surprisingly, the survey, most said the media wasn't a problem. I asked three specific questions about readiness to deal with the media. I asked how prepared are you to deal with tl media effectively in time of crisis. The answers to that were everything from not at all to, I can hold my own to, I'm an expert. Most respondents said they could either hold their own or were an expert. I asked two more
questions in the survival section of that survey. The fIrst question was if you were already faced with a crisis, wha kind of coverage did you get? Was it local, regional, national or international? One hundred percent who responde to crises had to deal with the media. There was no getting out of it The next question was how well were your view points incorporated in the news stories that were out there? A vast majority of the respondents, you and the sports information directors, said that it would be either somewhat represented or well represented in the media.
When you put those responses together, it says the media may be a pain in the neck to you, but you can get your position across somewhat to well in the event of a crisis if you plan for it and you make it happen. It also says that internal communication is the biggest problem, not external communication. You've got to sit back and say is this really true. Would I admit that I don't have the control of myself or my people to deal with the media.
There are techniques to do it more effectively. We have cards we call Sports Media Pocket Guide to Media Success and it's a pocket guide essentially to keep you out of trouble, to reduce the number of misquotes and incidents of you being taken out of context. If you follow these guidelines, it will severely reduce the incidents of misquotes and being taken out of context I have about 100 of them up here and you can help yourselves to them. Corporate executives put these into their pockets and whenever they get an ambush interview, they're called at home or they go to the plant and don't know that something has occurred, they take this out and look at it. The first thing is to be yourself. Don't stiffen up. You have to look like you're in control to be in control. You have to sound like you're in control to be in control. You have to have a message that if you don't have the answer, you will be able to find that answer.
Thirty second rule is to make your point in 30 seconds or less. If you don't, they're going to paraphrase you. They're not coming at it from your perspective. Not at all. They don't even understand the issues the way you do. They can't take what you know and put it into a 20 second sound bite because that's the average you have today. They can't do it if you can't do it So, the criteria is, make your point in 20 seconds or less. Add the detail if there's time, if there's interest and if there's need. If you ask yourself those three questions, you will give different information and you will give it in different amounts. Is there time? Does that person have the time to hear anymore? Do they have the interest? Do they care about these other elements of your message? If they don't care, don't tell them. If you flood them with too much information, the important issues get lost
The third criteria is, is there need? Do they need the one more piece of the puzzle for it to work, to get the true message through to the person or people on the other side? If they do, your job has just become harder. Because now you have to become more concise and more vivid in your communications if you are going to be successful. I've got everything under control. That's not going to be believed. Yet, that's the version of what we get most of the time. We've got it under control. Or, no comment. No comment is not a strategy. It doesn't work. It is a red flag that says there is something bigger here. I know. I was a reporter for 10 years. I had no sense of physical safety. There's an explosion and everybody is running one way, but I'm running right towards that explosion because there's a big story there. What motivates a reporter is very different than what motivates the average individual. They think they're invincible because, in many case, they are. We, as the public, allow that to happen.
Look in tenns of media strategy and what you can and can't do. There are a number of things to consider. Who is this spokesperson? Is that spokesperson able, not just willing, but able to communicate your position well? If not, get them help. It's out there. Teach them to communicate effectively. Roger Milliken is an obscure individual for many people. He's worth a little over $2 billion that he admits to. He started the "Crafted with Pride, Made in the USA" campaign, and he owns the leading textile company in this country. In 1989, their company won the Malcolm Balridge Award for quality. They live, breath, eat and sleep quality. Roger Milliken is a 76-year-old visionary. In 1989, when they won the award he said, "Help, I need help. Help me get this message together because the quality message is so important that I need to do it right" At that time he was 70-some years old and yet, with his status, stated that he needed help and that help will make a difference. How many of us are afraid to admit that we don't know how to do this or we don't know how to do this well enough. How many of us say we don't have the time to be educated within your own ranks at your universities or colleges? Many of you can get some of the help that you need, or you can hire outside consultants and trainers like myself to come in and work with you. That makes a difference because once you get to your levels doesn't mean that you can be as good a communicator as you are an administrator. Just because you excelled in one arena doesn't mean that you can excel equally in another. There are techniques that need to be learned and mastered to be effective in dealing with the media.
Dealing with the media is like going into a foreign land. It's got a culture. It's got a language. It's got a nuance all its own. If you go to Bulgaria and you don't speak the language, is it going to be fun? The same with the media. Depending on what happens. not just you. but people within your organization need to be trained as well. It's not fair. It is counterproductive to throw this student-athlete out there to deal with the media on a day-to-day basis without teaching them how. That's perpetuates the dumb jock syndrome. Sometimes nothing comes out of their mouth. Or, when they do speak, they have combs sticking in their hair, or they're looking at the floor, or they've got a tee-shirt on that's tom and messy with sweat pouring down them.
My brother is a professional race car driver. He was winning the Daytona 24 Hours two years in a row and winning all of these other races. He was in Sports Illustrated. His interviews were horrible. I knew this was an intelligent person. He has charisma as an individual. He was a talent on the track and had all of this exposure. He wasn't maximizing it for himself or for his sponsor. I told Tom, "You need to do this. You need to change this."
He said, "Oh, what do you know? You're my little sister." About three months later, Buick brought him into Detroit and told him they were going to train him. My brother said, "You know, this is just what you said." I looked
around and saw that there was nobody doing it for sports. I went to Notre Dame, went to Roger Valdiserri and said I've got this pilot project Let me try it with your high profIle student-athletes. He said, "Fine, let's do it " So, that's how Sports Media Challenge began. Starting with Notre Dame student-athletes and expanding to North
Carolina. John Swofford wanted his people to communicate better and he wanted to communicate better. He wanted to do something about it and not just wish it upon them. We needed to give them the tools to do it better.
If your information gets out there's a positive because the information is there. If the angle of that news or that information internally or externally is positive in nature, then it has double the psychological impact on your listeners, on your viewers and on your recipients of that information. If the information has a negative angle, then we're looking at four times the psychological impact Positioning or perception is critically important here. Fifty-five percent of the message that is received is based on what you see. At UCLA, one of the leading researchers in communications did a study on how people communicate. Fifty-five percent is based on what people see. Thirty- eight percent is the sound of the voice. Not what you say, but how you say it.
I'm really excited about the progress that we've made with Title IX and gender equity. Now, who in their right mind is going to believe that Because the way it is projected, only seven percent of the message that is received is actually rooted in the content with which you speak. Am I saying that content doesn't matter? No. I'm saying that it matters so much that you better make sure that the little things that shouldn't matter like what they see or how they hear you support the content itself. That's what jumps out at them. If there's a contradiction, they won't
believe their content Everybody take your right arm out shoulder high. Take your forefinger and your thumb and make a circle with them. Put that circle on your chin. Putting that circle on your chin is a very simple straight forward message. How many of the messages that you need and want to communicate are that simple? If a contradiction of what they saw was as simple as the message, changed the way they reacted or you reacted, then think about what that will do when you've got crisis on your hands.
We've got to look at the whole picture. When we look at the whole picture, we've got to consider what nervousness does to you. Don't tell them you're nervous. They're going to show that on TV. When Richard Nixon went back to television a few years ago, his first exposure was on "Meet the Press". All the reports talk about Richard Nixon's sweating. Well, he said in an article later when they asked him why he went public again, he said, "1 prepared for 150 questions and I only got 10 of them. But, I felt better because I had the answers for those 10 questions. I just wished they asked more. But, if they don't get off the sweating, I don't know what I'm going to do. I simply sweat. It has nothing to do with whether I'm nervous or not nervous." There's a very simple measure if you sweat Take a roll-on antiperspirant and put it on your forehead if you have to. If the television camera sees sweat coming down your forehead or the side of your face, they're going to say a nervous such and such. It may have nothing to do with how nervous you are. You may simply, like Richard Nixon, just sweat
You've got to look at the perception of what's coming across. Don't tell them you're nervous. Don't apologize. If there's a problem, admit what the problem is, the effect it has and what you're going to do to follow it through and leave it alone. Don't fidget with your clothes. Do you know how many guys stand up in front of a podium and pitch up their pants. Women pull down their skirts. Don't fidget with your clothes. Make sure they fit you. They're the rights ones for the time and then leave them alone. Guys leave your change, your keys at home or take them out of your pockets if you're going to put your hands in your pockets. It's a noise distraction and it says you're nervous, whether you are or not Don't look at your feet and don't look at the ceiling because that ceiling tile is not going to give you the answer and neither is God.
At the FBI, they train their people to make assessments on whether someone is lying or not by how much they're searching for an answer based on eye contact. If someone doesn't know what they're going to respond to, usually the eye contact is gone. People are trained to look for that. Whether you are or not, you might not know what makes you disbelieve that person's response. More than likely, it has something to do with eye contact as wen.
Don't rush your speech. When you speak too fast, the impression is you're nervous or you're disinterested in what you are saying. You 've got to consider that when you are speaking to the media, to the student-athletes, to your staff, etc. Don't panic. There are ways to not panic. Your student-athletes and coaches use them every day. Diaphragmatic breathing releases hormones in your body called interphones. They're natural tranquilizing agents.
Your best athletes don't go out fIlling their minds with negatives. They fIll their minds only with the best They position themselves mentally to succeed. We should be doing the same things in terms with the media. If you go in saying they're going to chop me up and spit me up, that's exactly what they're going to do. Winning audiences with eye contact, with gestures and with posture all makes a difference. It changes based on whether you're talking to print or whether you're talking to radio or television. There's a sense to what you are doing.
Then, you have to consider how do you prepare for an interview. States are either single-party consent states or dual-party consent states. This means that if you're on the telephone, you can record that conversation if you're in a single-party consent state. You don't have to tell anybody. Most of the time when the media does interviews, whether they're print or broadcast of any SOrt, they tape record that interview. They can go back and listen to what you said and write their story from it I don't do a single interview that I don't audio tape it at least It's my
documentation of what I did or didn't say. This response was given to this question. I can hear things and I'll want to hear them again. If you tape them, you'll be able to go back and hear them again. You may find that you made a good point here that I never made before or this question was asked of me that was never asked before in exactly this way. I need to be prepared for it again. If you've got your documentation, it helps you so that you can be better next time. It also puts the media on notice that you will hold them to a level of accountability that they haven't been in the past. You can't audio tape a sideline interview but many of your interviews and your coaches and student-athletes' interviews you can tape. You can then get better and they can get better and the media will know that you mean business.
The media is meant to be a funnel of that infonnation. They are not your end point. They are your funnel. You need to get them to understand, but getting them to understand is only the fIrst step because then they've got to communicate that message, which means you have to be real convincing to get it to the real audience, which is the readers, the viewers or the listening staff.
Anticipate the questions. Practice your answers. Don't Stop with what are the questions, but practice the answers and pmctice them on tape. Play it back and say, II Are there holes here? Do I sound more adamant than I should be sounding, or not adamant enough? Do I need to explain one more element that I haven't explained in the past?" Think positively so that when you walk into that interview, you're in control. When I say single-party
consent state, I tape record over-the-telephone interviews and I tell them in advance that I'm taping them. I ask them if they mind. Once in awhile they do mind, then I don't do the interview. If they mind you tape recording the interview, there's a reason. I have been in "60 Minutes" interviews with clients and I've taped "60 Minutes" taping that. Usually, it is the youngest and greenest reporters who think they've got more power than they do who are going to fight you on that issue.
We need to hold the media to greater levels of accountability. If we don't, they are going to run over us. I am not saying the media is our enemy. In fact, I believe the media can be your friend and certainly is my friend. They are the vehicle by which you can market yourself, your product, your services, your information, your position with relatively little ease and a great deal of importance. But, you've got to learn to deal effectively with the media to build rapport and to be willing to do that That means your coaches too. It doesn't just mean on the coaches' show that they get revenue from because a coach who has all of that control over his or her player has a bad attitude with the media, that's the attitude your student-athletes will take too. Your program is going to be hurt because of it.
Dealing with the media can be fun and you can do it successfully. Just like you can successfully prepare for crises, but the keys that have to be there for any successful communication, whether it's to the media or to your own people, those keys begin with a clear objective. Most people walk away with one major idea from any communications. So you, the communicator, better know what that principle idea is and you better be able to put it in one sentence because if you can't, you're more apt to say it more often and then it will be more convincing.
The next is confidence. You 've got to project a sense of confidence both in your information and in yourself. If you can't, they won't believe that information that may be crucial to your positioning of you and your program. The final key to effective communication is consistency. Everything they see and everything they hear and the message has to be one. It is especially true in crisis communication, but holds true in every communication.
Gentlemen and ladies, I'm here to suggest that as CEOs of multi-million dollar operations, that the final cost to your bottom line and to your image is much too severe to remain reactive. It's time to become aggressively proactive to these situations, to learn to deal with the media, to plan for that inevitable crisis in a most effective manner. It's time to read reality, not just newspaper headlines. It's time to see signals, not just television's visions gate and it's time to listen to the indicators of lightning ahead, not just a banter of radio. As leaders in the world of sports administration, you face new and challenging struggles ahead of you and the old answers simply just aren't going to do. Thank you.
Kathleen, thank you for a superb presentation. She will be around for a few moments if any of you want to talk to her. There's a special exhibit session now and the Corbett Award Luncheon at 1:00 p.m. Thank you very much.