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Protecting Your Image after a Fall from Grace

On February 15, 2013, Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested, along with his fiancée, Janay Palmer, after a domestic dispute in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Revel Casino. The dispute which was captured on the casino’s video surveillance system resulted in no injuries, besides one to Rice’s reputation. The incident raises eyebrows for many fans as Rice, 27, is an advocate for bullying prevention and hosts many speaking engagements throughout the Baltimore area.

 

This incident will most likely have an impact on his image in the community, potentially dethroning him from the “golden boy” pedestal he was given by Ravens fans. During the off-season, it will be important for Rice to reassure the Ravens organization and community that he takes his position in the public eye seriously. While Rice is a human, who like everyone makes mistakes, in order to maintain his image as a charitable, well-respected figure in the community, Rice will need to take responsibility.

 

Scandal is no stranger to professional sports, considering the high-profile nature of the industry.  Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, and Michael Phelps have all faced issues in the media, each affecting their careers in different ways. The degree of impact a scandal has on their career and public image is often based on the athlete’s response to the situation and the professionalism they show while on the journey back from their fall from grace.

 

The Fallston Group recommends that a person of interest publicly address the situation as soon as possible. Time delay causes a stir in the media with reports based on speculation and uncertainty. As the Fallston Group often advises, “Tell your story, or someone else will. And when someone else tells your story, it won’t be the story you want told.” In order to maintain control, it is important that Rice considers his timeliness and his attitude when addressing the public, in addition to the legal ramifications a statement may have. He will need to address how he is going to take his lessons learned and apply them in the future to prevent it from happening again.

 

Only time will tell if Ray Rice’s charismatic appeal will be diminished by the incident. The effect it has on his public image will depend on how the situation unfolds and if and how Rice takes responsibility for his actions.

 

In the result of an incident, inside or outside of the office, here are a few tips for strategically communicating with the public:

  • Respond in a timely manner
    • Do not give the media an extended amount time to speculate on the incident. Take control of the situation at hand. However, do not rush because this may lead to your statements being misinterpreted or seen as unprofessional.
  • Be honest
    • The truth is always the best way to confront an issue. Not only will this help to salvage your business’ credibility, but will steer you away from future dilemmas.
  • Express the lessons learned
    • Express how you or your business will move past this situation and learn from it. Explain how the incident will relate to the future actions of yourself or your business.
  • Make your story heard (the way you want)
    • Take responsibility and let what occurred be known. Doing so will help to maintain trust and express your emotion. Reach out to demonstrate your control of the situation and focus on the steps being taken to prevent a similar situation in the future.

 

For more information on crisis management, do not hesitate to contact the Fallston Group at 410.420.2001 or by email at info@fallstongroup.com.

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