Show cover of Crisis Communications in Sports

Crisis Communications in Sports

Crisis Communications in Sports breaks down the latest news and crises in sports communications. Sports marketing veteran and crisis communications strategist Jim Rocco offers his insight on dealing with sensitive situations and how to rectify problematic actions; whether it is dealing with the media, tone-deaf public statements, or complicated internal affairs. Episodes feature interviews with figures across the sports landscape, and discussions on bold strategies for winning in the court of public opinion.

Tracks

Breaking Down the Communication Breakdowns in the World of Sports
Every so often, there's more communication breakdowns in the world of sports than a person can keep up with! So on this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce examine six separate hot-button crisis topics that are currently trending in the world of sports, and offer their unique takes on where things went wrong, and what can be done going forward. With a hard five minutes devoted to each topic, the action begins with a revealing discussion about player discontent towards the new Major League Baseball uniforms, then takes on the growing debate over court-storming in college basketball, and is followed by a look into the extreme public tactic that St. John's coach Rick Pitino employed in an attempt to motivate his team. The attention then shifts towards the flap over an on-air argument related to the 3-point contest between Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu, the high scoring-no defense NBA All-Star game, and finally the beef between two NFL players that got way too personal.
34:18 2/28/24
Legendary NFL Sideline Reporter Michele Tafoya on the Charissa Thompson Admission About Making Up Reports
Questions and opinions about journalistic integrity began flying when NFL personality Charissa Thompson very casually mentioned in an interview that she had sometimes made up reports early in her career as a sideline reporter. We spoke to Michele Tafoya, one of the most respected NFL sideline reporters of the past 25 years, to help us break down the fallout. Michele explained why it rankled so many people both inside and outside of the television industry and also discussed the curious fact that the admission did not result in any official repercussions (07:22). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce open the show with a conversation about the bizarre rumor that the Chicago Blackhawks were recently forced to address and how they deftly handled their public statement (01:12). 
36:49 11/30/23
USA Today Investigative Reporter Kenny Jacoby on the Unfolding Mel Tucker - Michigan State Controversy
The massive contract extension former Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker signed in November of 2021 made headlines, both because it established Tucker one of the highest paid coaches in the sport, and because it was a fully guaranteed deal. The feel-good story, however, came to an abrupt halt less than 2 years into the deal when Tucker was accused by Brenda Tracy, a prominent rape survivor and activist, of engaging in a sex act without her consent. On this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, we speak to Kenny Jacoby, the investigative reporter from USA Today who broke the story (09:44). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce get things underway with a discussion about the recent video put out by one time Major League Baseball star Trevor Bauer who is seeking to clear his name and restore his reputation following a settlement in his own sexual assault case (01:00).
37:58 10/11/23
Sports Commentator and Writer Sean Keeley on the Suspension of Baltimore Orioles Broadcaster Kevin Brown
When the reason why the Baltimore Orioles play-by-play man had been suspended went viral, fans and fellow broadcasters coast-to-coast began chanting, "Free Kevin Brown!" On this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, we speak with Awful Announcing's Sean Keeley about the ill-advised move by the team's hypersensitive owners and how it backfired spectacularly (10:00). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce get things started with a discussion about a developing controversy involving one of baseball's brightest young stars, Wander Franco (01:43).
35:03 8/16/23
Attorney Rusty Webb on the Bob Huggins Resignation Dispute
Bob Huggins' startling claim that he never resigned as the men's basketball coach of West Virginia University, nearly a month after it had been widely reported that he had, is one of the more bizarre sports stories so far this year. On this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, we speak with attorney Rusty Webb, a West Virginian who is a graduate of the university's law school, to discuss the perplexing communication claims and tactics that led to the drama that has unfolded (06:45). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce kick off the show by analyzing the current public-facing salary battle taking place between NFL running backs and team management. Based on their statements and social media posts, one side might be causing themselves irreparable harm by overestimating their leverage (00:56).
27:19 7/21/23
Sports sociologist Daniel Sailofsky on player and public reactions to the controversy that followed the conclusion of the NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship
In this edition of Crisis Communications in Sports we examine the controversy that erupted at the conclusion of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship game and how the public responses from the players involved, LSU's Angel Reese and Iowa's Caitlin Clark, were perceived. Sports sociologist Daniel Sailofsky joins us for a frank discussion about how race, gender, social media, and even a suggestion from the White House, played a role in the statements, strategy and posturing that occurred (06:43). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce lead things off with a discussion about how the Minnesota Timberwolves could have better controlled the narrative following a mid-game altercation between two of their players (01:45).
40:37 4/12/23
NFL Insider Andrew Brandt on the Unfolding Communications Crisis Surrounding Daniel Synder's Ownership of the Washington Commanders
The latest developments in the on-going saga of Daniel Snyder's tenure as owner of the Washington Commanders have yielded some fascinating case studies in crisis communication. On this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, we speak with esteemed NFL insider and Washington, D.C. native Andrew Brandt to help us break down the X's and O's of all the statements and strategies utilized by the team, the league and by other owners (10:17). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce kick off the show with a discussion about the bizarre and puzzling sequence of events that recently took place involving Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, beginning with a botched press conference and ending with a begrudging apology (01:25).
36:54 11/7/22
Russia and Ukraine Commentator Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon on the Brittney Griner Detainment
The Russian detainment of American basketball star Brittney Griner has been making headlines over the last three months. On this episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, we discuss the often complex and critically important media tactics being utilized by Griner's supporters, with Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon whose work focuses on the African American experience in the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia. St. Julian-Varnon speaks about how she advised the WNBA Players Association and the shift in approach that led to a more vocal public campaign (06:44). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce open the show with a discussion about how and why a controversial story involving the Tampa Bay Rays managed to not spiral out of control and escalate to the level it potentially could have (01:16).
31:03 6/20/22
Sports PR Vet Denise L. White on Athletes Navigating Reputational Damage
In this edition of Crisis Communications in Sports, EAG Sports Management CEO and Founder Denise L. White discusses the short and long term reputational damage professional athletes face when they are embroiled in a PR nightmare, such as the one golfer Phil Mickelson is currently traversing. Denise utilizes more than two decades of experience to offer her assessment of the situation and advice on how to mitigate the fallout (08:22). Hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce kick off the show by examining the daunting journey that Major League Baseball will have ahead of itself in order to regain fan support whenever the now shortened season gets underway (00:45). 
35:34 3/7/22
Sports Law Professor Gabe Feldman on Name, Image, and Likeness in College Sports
Crisis Communications in Sports returns with an all-new episode that delves into the complex and hotly-debated topic of college athlete compensation and the chaotic start to the Name, Image and Likeness era in college sports. Gabe Feldman, one of the country's foremost authorities on NIL, speaks with hosts Jim Rocco and Cris Bruce about the complexities involved, the seemingly ever-changing framework and what he believes the future holds (08:01).  Jim and Cris open the show with an interesting take on the role reputation played in the most recent Baseball Hall of Fame voting (00:35).       
39:49 2/8/22
Former CMO of Team USA Rick Burton on Brands Navigating Tokyo Olympics
Crisis Communications in Sports is back with a brand new episode that features an in-depth interview with the former Chief Marketing Officer of the United States Olympic Committee, Rick Burton (10:01). Rick speaks with hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin about his experience handling the marketing responsibilities for previous olympics and the daunting challenges his predecessor faces with this year’s games. Jim and Isaac open the show dissecting the controversy with new Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups introductory press conference and break down how the backlash could have been avoided (0:38).
35:56 7/7/21
Marketing Professor Derek Rucker on Super Bowl Advertising in 2021
This week's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports features a fascinating interview with Derek Rucker, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (7:25). Hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin talk to Derek about the challenges of advertising during this year's Super Bowl, brands that dropped the ball in years past, and how they recovered. Jim and Isaac open the show discussing a report that the Japanese government has privately conceded that this year's Summer Olympics will not be happening, and how Japan and the IOC have bungled their response to the article (0:48).
41:50 2/4/21
Former Mets PR Director Jay Horwitz on His New Book, Mr. Met
This year's final episode of Crisis Communications in Sports features an interview with a New York-area public relations legend (7:08). Jay Horwitz was the Mets venerable PR chief for nearly four decades and currently serves as their head of alumni relations. Jay sits down with hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin to discuss his time devising public relations strategies for the team's front office and players, especially during the team's glory years in the 1980's. Jay also talks about his recently-published book, Mr. Met, and his inspiration for writing it. Before the interview, Jim and Isaac give their takes on the hotly debated comments regarding playing during COVID made by Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski  (0:44). 
37:09 12/16/20
NFL Insider Peter King on the Dismissal of Houston Texans' PR Chief
This special Thanksgiving-week episode of Crisis Communications in Sports features a conversation with renowned NFL journalist Peter King (7:08). Hosts Isaac Benjamin and Jim Rocco asked Peter to weigh-in on the very public crisis that's unfolding within the Houston Texans' organization and the baffling personnel moves that have ensued, including the firing of the highly-regarded ex-VP of Communications Amy Palcic. The Texans chalked it up to Palcic no longer being 'a cultural fit' with the team, an explanation that did not sit well with players or the media. Peter, Jim and Isaac talk about the optics for the NFL as the only female head of communications was let go on such dubious grounds. Before the Peter King interview, Jim and Isaac breakdown the NY Giants' public relations strategy in response to the rumored fight between head coach Joe Judge and offensive line coach Marc Colombo (1:13). 
37:12 11/24/20
Howard University AD Kery Davis on Achievements, Aspirations for Athletics Program
The newest edition of Crisis Communications in Sports features Kery Davis, Athletic Director of Howard University (12:04). Davis speaks to hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin about some of the remarkable achievements on the sports front that have transpired during his time at "The Mecca". From NBA great Steph Curry pledging his financial support to start a new D1 golf program at Howard University to the unlikely and historically significant commitment of 5-star basketball recruit Makur Maker, Davis discusses in-depth the challenges and rewards that came with bringing these extraordinary accomplishments to fruition. Jim and Isaac open the show with an interesting debate about new Mets owner Steven Cohen  (00:34), the communication tactics he employed during his first press conference, and what he needs to do publicly to get fans to buy in.
51:43 11/12/20
Former Agent, Sports Executive Graham Boone on Player Representation and the Media
This week's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports features an interview with former NBA agent and sports & entertainment executive Graham Boone (11:14). Graham speaks with hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin about his experiences handling crises and media relations through the lens of player representation. The interview begins with a fascinating conversation about Graham's time representing Jeremy Lin during the height of 'Linsanity', and the free agency period following his meteoric rise. Jim and Isaac open the show discussing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing former All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown while he still faces sexual assault allegations (0:37), breaking down the Buc's public relations response to the sensitive situation, especially in relation to Tampa Bay's coach Bruce Arians, an outspoken advocate for women on and off the field.  
45:46 10/28/20
James Kennedy of Major League Rugby on Growing the Sport Stateside
This week's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports begins with a conversation between hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin about the initial fallout from the tragic injury to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (0:42), and how owner Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization have responded publicly, particularly in light of last season's contentious contract negotiations. Following that conversation, James Kennedy of Rugby United New York and Major League Rugby joins the show to talk about his efforts to grow the game in the U.S., how the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the season and the importance of developing U.S. born players and building the national team (13:26).
46:43 10/15/20
Renowned Sportscaster and Journalist Mary Carillo on Tennis During COVID-19, Social Justice in the Sport
Thursday's edition of Crisis Communications in Sports features an insightful interview with sports broadcasting legend Mary Carillo. Over the past 40 years, Mary has seen it all, but as she explains, there has been nothing quite like covering Grand Slam tournaments during a pandemic. In her discussion with hosts Jim and Isaac, Mary talks about her experience calling the US Open on-site but without fans, the Djokovic line-judge drama, and social activism in her beloved sport. But before the interview, Isaac and Jim discuss a lawsuit filed last month that is the first of its kind; it involves a professional surfer suing a sponsor because he claims they are not paying him money owed due to unsatisfied contract requirements caused by inaction during the pandemic. 
49:50 10/1/20
Sports Marketing Executive and Professor Darcy Raymond on Team Name Changes, Marketing Sports Post-COVID
This week's featured interview of Crisis Communications in Sports is with Darcy Raymond, who helped the Tampa Bay Rays go through a name change as a former marketing executive with the team. Darcy speaks about his time with the Rays while outlining the challenges facing the Washington Football Team as they go through a similar process. In the Sports Crisis Wire, hosts Jim and Isaac run through noteworthy public relations issues in sports, including the string of broadcasters being suspended for problematic comments they made on air or social media. As always, the show closes with Jim and Isaac's bold advice for a person, team, or organization dealing with a sensitive situation today. 
47:24 8/27/20
Professional Sports Memorabilia Authenticator Kevin Keating on His New Book, the State of MLB
This week's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports features an interview with Kevin Keating, who is a professional sports memorabilia authenticator, author, and baseball historian. The conversation touches on Kevin's love for the game, how he got into authenticating, and his advice for MLB as it grapples with declining viewership. Hosts Jim and Isaac open the show with their Sports Crisis Wire segment, giving a rundown of developing stories with an eye for potential crises or public relations nightmares. Following their interview with Kevin, Isaac and Jim give their bold advice for the XFL and PGA golfer Brooks Koepka, respectively. 
34:27 8/13/20
USA Today Writer Jeff Zillgitt on the NBA Bubble
In Thursday's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports, hosts Jim Rocco and Isaac Benjamin speak with USA Today writer Jeff Zillgitt on potential problems at the NBA Bubble in Orlando, and his concerns and expectations a few weeks out from reporting to the camp himself. Jim and Isaac start Episode 2 discussing the Washington Football Team's difficulty handling a myriad of crises all transpiring within the last month. The show ends with Jim and Isaac's bold strategies for NCAA President Mark Emmert in his legal battle, and MLB's opportunity with the Blue Jays' home stadium fiasco.  
51:08 7/30/20
Debut! Aryeh Schwartz of Winsidr Talks WNBA Issues
This week's episode of Crisis Communications in Sports introduces its hosts, sports marketing veteran Jim Rocco and crisis communications strategist Isaac Benjamin, who will delve into the latest news and crises in sports communications. The inaugural episode features an interview with Aryeh Schwartz, the founder of Winsidr, the largest outlet devoted entirely to covering the WNBA. The conversation begins with the latest developments regarding U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler's comments on player activism in the WNBA, then touches on the reported conditions of the WNBA's player-isolating bubble, finishing with Aryeh providing insight on Winsidr's unique reporting during the WNBA's virtual draft. To finish the show, Jim and Isaac offer the commissioners of MLB and MLS their takes about managing certain situations in their respective sports.
28:51 7/16/20

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