Really? No, really?
Oh baby, this was a fumble of rather comical proportions. As one who’s spent some time in the “PR” world and its concentric circles, I’ve never subscribed to the adage “all PR is good PR.” Sometimes it’s not. Ironically, Bill Johnston, the Director of Public Relations for the San Diego Chargers, provides us with a perfect example of when people are talking about you for the wrong reasons.
The lightning bolts have started the 2012 campaign at 3-3. Norv Turner’s perennially hot seat is starting to toast up again. It’s really par for the course. However, after a nationally-televised second half collapse against the Broncos and the elder Manning, the natives are apparently getting restless. Too restless for the Chargers head PR man. His message to Bolts faithful: “Take a Chill Pill.”
Now, let’s ignore for starters that this phrase kinda went out of vogue a few decades back. Just read Johnston’s note. Go ahead, read it again. I had to do a few double-takes and questioned at first if maybe someone had hijacked his account on Chargers.com. That doesn’t appear to be the case.
Look, this is football. We all know it. It’s not life or death. Let’s also be real. NFL teams have massive fan bases and ticket holders who pay good money to watch their teams. They expect a quality product. When they don’t get it, it’s in their right to express dissatisfaction. It happens every day in every market. It doesn’t matter if your team’s won 27 World Championships or is coming off a Super Bowl. It comes with the territory, no? Well, apparently, it’s too brutal to endure in San Diego for Johnston.
The most disturbing thing about Johnston’s note is that Chargers fans are the organization’s “customers.” This note not only blatantly ignores their complaints, it belittles them in the process. It’s flippant, condescending and defensive.
What’s with you people?
Yes, Monday night’s loss was bad. Horrible. Embarrassing.
Ok…enough already. No mas. I get it.
Now get over it. It was a loss. One loss.
What’s with “you people?” That’s how you open up an article on the team’s official Web site that caters to and communicates to the organization’s most ardent fans and followers? He then goes on to recount some Chargers history as an illustration of how things can quickly change. His journey back in time culminates with the following message:
Time to take a chill pill. No one knows what will happen this season, yet alone the next game. That’s the beauty of the National Football League. I don’t know, you don’t know, no one knows what’s going to happen.
Yes, nobody knows what’s going to happen and that is what’s great. However, you can certainly comment on what has happened. And if the Chargers fans are disappointed with a 3-3 start and a brutal loss where they were blanked 35-0 in the second half and blew a 24-point halftime lead…well, can you blame them? Is that not within a fan’s right?
Johnston’s concluding paragraphs bring the theme all the way around.
If you want these players and coaches to succeed, then support them. Don’t tear them down. What you want and what we all want, including your team, is to know people believe in them.
Look at it this way. We want our loved ones to succeed, and we’ll do whatever it takes to help them. But when they make mistakes, like we all do, we would never criticize or belittle them publicly.
Your team is 3-3, tied at the top of the division, and has 10 games to play. If the Chargers are your team, get behind them and stay behind them. We’re all at our best when we know others believe in us.
Got that Chargers fans? Chill out. Stop complaining. Believe. Otherwise, you’re a completely shi**y fan. I mean, would you talk this way to your family?
Nope, I don’t believe “all PR is good PR.” This was the wrong channel, wrong message. Chargers fumble again. But at least their fans seem to be taking this recent message well.