I haven’t spoken to or met Minnesota’s Quarterback (Brett) Favre, but if he calls, I would tell him he needs to speak up, and damn quickly. I would remind him that large portions of the Tiger Woods hysteria could have been avoided had Tiger stood up quickly and taken responsibility, which he failed to do until months later. It’s a mistake in PR and crisis management to keep silent during the heat, and this story will not go away until Favre addresses the issues surrounding his texts to Jenn Sterger.
Having handled many celebrity crises, I would insist on sitting down with him, learning the real story and understanding what really happened. I’ve worked with these situations for a long time and trust me what we read isn’t always the whole truth. I would insist on knowing where his wife stands in the picture, and how he truly personally feels about all the media surrounding this. I have had some celebrities who genuinely do not care, while others are only concerned with what headshot the media is using. We need to understand the touch points for Favre – the person, the father of 2 daughters, the husband, and not just #4 on the football field.
The headlines this week read, “Maybe Brett Favre should have stayed retired”, “A Sad Ending For A Sad Man”, and ask, “Should Wrangler drop Brett Favre?”
The allegations around sexual misconduct required the NFL to consider suspension and run a ‘fast track’ investigation into the matter – another event to which Favre did not respond. But, again, this investigation and its findings are sure to receive ample media attention. To make matters worse, he’s also distracted on the field. After apologizing to his team for his missing team practices, he was still completely unfocused and missed several crucial throws, leading to their loss to the NY Jets.
Anyone advising Brett Favre needs to be very, very frank. This incident will not go away and may threaten the Favre legacy. I guarantee, at this point, a lot more Americans will know his name not from his conduct on the field, but for his texting incidents. Not to mention, no brand will endorse with him in business after he does retire.
Today’s comments from former NBA star and current TV bigmouth Charles Barkley will inflame the situation further, as Barkley tells the world, “Favre has handled himself perfectly.” I would beg to differ, and I would remind Barkley of his infamous comment years ago, “I am not paid to be a role model.” That’s true, and Favre is yet another athlete reminding America of just how true his words were.
Whether it’s a one-off interview with a friendly Reporter, or a taped interview which he releases on his own, a statement which is forceful and real needs to be made and released. Is his wife standing next to him? Is he in jersey or out? All of these scenarios have to be carefully considered, or this incident shall forever tarnish the Favre legacy, and be the subject of countless late-night skits.
Favre needs to come up with a strategy – whether it’s to focus on field strengths and throws, or to just say it’s a lie. He needs to tell the truth, for the pictures of the gorgeous Jets cheerleader won’t go away until then. Favre is not the first, nor the last athlete to be accused of making a mistake. However, he’s not accused of murder, like OJ Simpson, or facing jail time.It’s important to remember that America is a forgiving nation (lets hope his wife is also).Brett Favre needs to stand up and say something, or the media’s going to continue speaking for him.
Ronn Torossian is president and CEO of 5WPR, one of the 20 largest independent PR agencies in the U.S. Named one of the top 40”s Under 40"s by PR Week & Advertising Age, Ronn Torossian was a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and may be reached online at http://www.5wpr.net
PR Advice For Brett Favre By Ronn Torossian