By VaShon Pruitt, Program Co-Chair
Another professional organization falls victim to the allure of 140 characters. The Washington Redskins have been engulfed in controversy, due to owner Dan Snyders’ unwillingness to change the team’s name after facing pressure by disgruntled fans and more importantly, Native Americans who find the racial slur offensive. The Redskins have carried the name since 1937, but the continued vocalization by offended Native Americans in addition to fifty United States Senators calling for a changing of the name, has brought what many believe to be a malicious insult to Native Americans to the forefront of the National Football League.
In an effort to counter attack against the name-change movement, the Redskins on Thursday, May 30, decided to dive headfirst into what would prove to be a social media nightmare by urging fans to “Tweet @senatorreid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you.” One would have to believe the out-of-touch Redskins’ executives did not seek the counsel of a PR professional prior to pressing send, as proper counsel could have easily combated such poor decision-making. But hey, I’m an owner whose team has a valuation of 1.7 billion dollars, thanks to my own genius. Why would I need the counsel of PR before making this decision? I just want to “engage” my audience, says everyone who thinks they know the “secret sauce” to having success on social media.
As PR professionals, it is not only our job to be experts in media relations, but it is also our duty to provide the best counsel possible to our clients. Media crisis can easily be adverted with a proper plan in place, however, with the rise of social media and the “need” to get consumers engaged in real-time, more times than not, the proper channels are not taken, resulting in the sudden rise of social media crisis as of late.
Social media has proven time and time again that it is one of the most unpredictable tools of our day. There is no 1+1= 2 formula to success, and once you press send, be prepared to embrace the storm – be it a slight overcast or a thunderstorm of little blue flocking birds tweeting to the same cadence.