It’s not a game. Communication takeaways when things go awry on live tv.

Good — and bad — public relation responses occur every day and around the world. Organizations are wise to study various scenarios so that when it’s their turn, they will be looked at for what they did well. In that vein, here are the top lessons school districts can learn from the recent Damar Hamlin incident and the NFL’s response.

  1. Humanity and compassion should always come first. Amid a crisis, the most important thing an organization can do is lead with compassion. The ESPN anchors, while broadcasting to a live audience with millions of people and fans as emergency aid was being administered, were a shining example of this. 
  2. Say what you can, as soon as you can. Time is of the essence in emergencies. This was a miss on the part of the NFL in this particular scenario, as they waited more than an hour before issuing a statement of any kind. This led to speculation, of course, on what their motivations were while everyone else (from players to coaches and fans) were solely focused on the well-being of Damar Hamlin. Safety always comes first and there is always something that can be said officially and immediately about that.
  3. Understand the value of community influencers… and leverage them to the best of your ability. There are countless influencers in the NFL, from coaches and players to sports analysts and a whole lot in between. These individuals set the stage for the response to Damar’s crisis and the ongoing support offered to him and his family, the Buffalo Bills, and Damar’s charity, even though a major game was canceled. This is why it is so important to have Key Communicators and Strong Parent Teacher Organizations and to keep them apprised of what’s happening. They can be your best advocates.

How will you incorporate these lessons into your crisis response plan to ensure that others are one day studying you for all the right reasons? Your success is our success. And the Damar Hamlin incident is more than a game. So, too, is the work you do. If you are ready to get serious, then we are too. Reach out now to set up a time about how you can get real about your communications.

By Gianna Harrison, Director of Client Strategy and Buffalo Bills Fan

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