Redskins PR Chief Yanks Mic from Reporter’s Hands

Let’s talk media relations strategy…

Got your attention yet? OK. Today brings us a very weird report from the world of sports PR in which the National Football League‘s most embattled team demonstrates some…unconventional ways of dealing with the media.

For context, the Washington Redskins fired manager Mike Shanahan yesterday, because a 3-13 record does not inspire one to perform the traditional “Gatorade dump” victory dance.

Here are some of the (very) lowlights from Washington Post sports scribe Kent Babb‘s excellent report on the event:

First, the team released “a statement that named the eight assistants who would not be retained, rather than the ones who would”, because accentuate the positive. Then, the team “ordered pre-emptive measures presumably meant to reduce unnecessary attention.”

That didn’t go so well…

 “The team assigned two public-relations interns to patrol” the parking lot between the media building and the team facility.

Reporters then had to “[shoot] video through uncovered windows and slits between curtain and sill”, because that’s not weird at all.

Shockingly, none of the team’s best-known players wanted to talk about football!

“running back Alfred Morris…declined to speak Monday morning, saying he needed to leave immediately if he was to make it to Chick-fil-A before it stopped serving breakfast”

Media training 101: the best defense is delicious fried chicken. Here’s the kicker, though:

“…a television reporter with a history of asking confrontational questions raised his hand and was handed a microphone, at which point communications director Tony Wyllie signaled to end the meeting…Wyllie then walked over and, after a brief tug of war, pulled the microphone from [the reporter’s] hand.”

That could be one way to protect against bad press. The team found time for one final insult, moving now-former coach Shanahan’s car to a side exit and placing security guards in the area to prevent reporters from asking the questions he refused to field at the press event. But wait:

“…a team employee said the situation was no longer a PR issue; it was rather a security measure.”

Um, OK. Now can you guess who’s NOT going to have a great 2014?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.