Saturday, September 13, 2014

About Ray Rice...

So Alex asked me on Facebook, how I would "spin" the "Ray Rice Situation." First, a bit of education.

I'm a public relations professional. As such, I am entrusted with the reputation management of my clients. I, am not, however, a liar. Most PR people are not liars, like most accountants are not liars, or most doctors are not liars, but some are... not because they work in PR, but because they are not ethical human being. Unethical human beings exist in every profession.

Generally, I have a client who is good at their craft, their art, their profession, but not so good at telling the world about their specialty. If they make floor tiles, they truly believe their floor tiles are the best and it's my job to show passion to the world. If there is a floor tile recall, it's my job to make sure all sides of the story are told - positive AND negative. PR people are diplomats, really. Because most people want to believe that the world is black OR white. That people are good OR bad. It's our job to proactively showcase all the good you don't know and in times of crisis, reactively show all sides of the story.

Now, that you don't think I'm a total scumbag, let me share one of my favorite quotes with you: "If you want people to respect your brand, HAVE A RESPECTABLE BRAND."

As a PR person, I stand on this philosophy. I cannot "spin" the "Ray Rice situation" because from what I can tell, he doesn't have a respectable brand. I can't make him look any better, because the facts are STARING in your face. There's nothing else to say. He messed up. He needs to move to Montana, finish his college degree and get a regular job like a regular person.

HOWEVER, as a PR person, I can't help but point out some facts that MAY make you think about the situation differently. And if Ray Rice WAS my client, here would be some of my key points to share with the media and the general public.

DISCLAIMER: These are not my thoughts. These are how I would counsel a client in talking points, IF I had a publicity client in the NFL who made a mistake, which I do not. 

1. It is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE for the media to play the Ray Rice video in its entirety over and over again. Imagine the worst thing that ever happened to you, in your life, now imagine CNN had that footage and showed it on a 24-hour loop, back-to-back? 

As a victim of domestic violence, there is no reason for Janay Rice to have to relive day-in and day-out the media's scrutiny of her decision to keep her family together OR witness the violence that endured firsthand on her TV screens. If news stations won't show injuries of sports players, due to their graphic nature, the women of America should be given the same respect. Our society should be ashamed of how it treats victims of domestic violence and impedes their ability to heal.

2. Ray Rice has admitted fault, he has apologized, he has served the sentence that was given to him by a United States court of law and he is seeking to reform himself and put his family back together, privately. Opening the wounds that he inflicted on his family more than three months ago will not help him, nor will it help any other domestic violence victims or families trying to heal from similar ordeals. 

3. The American justice system and governing bodies in sports (NFL, NBA, MLB) are extremely inconsistent in their punishment of players and that is what the public should be upset about. When a top quarterback in the NFL has settled a lawsuit of sexual abuse neither admitting or denying fault, one wonders if these bodies really hold their players to the high standard they claim to or if they, instead, take every opportunity possible to eliminate lesser-paid, lower-value scapegoats to change the conversation about what is and isn't acceptable in professional sports leagues. While Ray Rice has admitted his mistakes and paid for them with his job, the NFL and other professional sports leagues carry on like they haven't ignored player transgressions in the past. This culture of cover-ups must change. Our professional athletes must be excellent on- and off the field. This is what Americans should care about.

So... would you hire me?