The National Basketball Association, yet again, finds its brand in a racially-charged public relations firestorm. Revelations from a recent email containing racially insensitive comments by NBA Atlanta Hawks’ owner Bruce Levenson is already playing out differently than Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.
Public relations strategies for reputation resurrection vary by situation. Stakeholders from media to employees to consumers look at the initial action when deciding their reaction. But they also take into account the offending party’s executive communication following the crisis.
The now-former owner Levenson apologized and agreed to renounce his ownership in the team. This received kudos from a mixed race media panel on CNN for doing the right thing. Does it remove the cloud completely from the NBA and the Atlanta Hawks? No. But it did not fan the flames and allows the brand repair to continue. Expect the NBA to face ongoing media investigations into whether the league has a systemic race problem among its owners.
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