Crisis Communications: The most needed and least used tool in marketing

May 7, 2014

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Donald Sterling’s public relations catastrophe

How much are you willing to pay by making racist remarks? For Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, it’s 2.5 million dollars along with a lifetime ban from his team and related activities. While Sterling cannot be forced to step down as the owner of the Clippers, this ban will prevent him from attending any of the games or LA Clippers facilities. He is now an owner by name only and cannot be involved with any of the team decisions.

What happened?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the background of this recent controversy here’s what happened: a recording of Donald Sterling making racists comments and demands to his mistress, V. Stiviano, was recently leaked onto the Internet. In the recording he told Stiviano, “Don’t bring blacks to my games!” He also asked Stiviano to strip her Instagram account of pictures with black athletes such as Magic Johnson.

The consequences …

Since this recording has leaked, the players, fans, and media has been understandably outraged with Donald Sterling and his remarks. To show their disapproval and lack of support for Donald Sterling, the current LA Clippers players wore their jerseys inside out during their game last Sunday night. In addition to the players, large companies and organizations are protesting against Sterling’s remarks. State Farm purchased advertising spots in the teams arena, but since the recording has leaked they have pulled all their advertisements in association with the LA Clippers from the media.

The consequences of Sterling’s remarks don’t just apply to the players, fans, and investors. The LA Clippers brand name will be tarnished for years to come because of Sterling’s choice of words. So how do the Clippers recover from this catastrophe? The answer is, it’s all about communication.

This incident with the Clippers owner is a prime example of why it is so important for companies, of any size, to have a public relations team or advisor; especially when mistakes made by an individual within the company tarnish brand names, professional communicators can help mend the relationship between the company and the public.

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