What the Hell, NFL?

 What the Hell, NFL?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the NFL. (Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.)

This has been a particularly bad week for the PR image of the National Football League: a murder-suicide, a death due to drunk driving – even a reduction in suspension of popular players came with a reminder of the nasty reasons they’d been reprimanded in the first place. The recent news items have left both sports fans and casual observers asking what the hell is going on in the NFL?

The news has been nothing short of shocking. Last week, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his child, at their home. Belcher then drove to the Chiefs’ training facility and committed suicide. The announcement of the deaths was made on a game day, and the team played on. This week, Josh Brent, defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. The next day, the Cowboys were on the field.

Also this week, an announcement was made regarding the reduction of suspensions for New Orleans Saints players involved in “bountygate” – a scheme in which players were rewarded for injuring opposing team members. Overall, it’s been a bad week for the NFL’s image – but not for its ratings or ticket sales. Is this clever PR at work?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the NFL. The tragedies shine a light on the difficult life of pro athletes, but why is there no impact on ticket sales?

The PR Takeaway: The show must go on, and sometimes instead of the company setting the tone, it’s better to take the PR cue from customers. The NFL hasn’t gone overboard in their reaction to the week’s events precisely because the customers haven’t. Like the fans, they express sympathy for the families of the deceased and acknowledge that players sometimes go overboard, but in this case, the NFL knows exactly what the hell it’s doing. Though it has been rather a bad week for the NFL, it’s business as usual – until, and unless, fans give a signal to the contrary.

Lady Gaga’s Latest Revolution

 Lady Gaga’s Latest Revolution

The PR Verdict: A (PR Perfect) for Lady Gaga.

Once quoted as saying “Pop stars shouldn’t eat,” Lady Gaga – arguably the most famous pop star in the world – certainly seemed to practice what she preached. She probably wore more food in her (in)famous meat dress than she actually ingested. Lately, that has changed. While Gaga’s fashion statements always make headlines, the media recently hinted at what may be her most daring look of all: 25 extra pounds.

The media quickly circulated a picture of the allegedly padded pop star, accompanying it with words like “fat” and “heavy” – though not “Photoshopped,” as the pic was obviously fake. Still, the reaction was hardly positive,and although no recent photos of Gaga have yet surfaced, the consensus is that she is now more happily proportioned than ever before.

Lady Gaga rewrote the book on how a star can forge a connection with her fans. Turning fattening lemons into PR lemonade, Gaga’s website Littlemonsters.com now features a forum called Body Revolution. “Today I join the BODY REVOLUTION,” Gaga writes on a photo of herself in bra and panties. The forum has already been filled with photos of Gaga fans dealing not just with overweight but diseases, mastectomies, and other physical maladies they were previously ashamed of. “Thank you, Gaga, for inspiring me to be brave.” they write.  Distance, denial? Not for Mother Monster and her Little Monsters.

The PR Verdict: A (PR Perfect) for Lady Gaga. Whether her weight gain was intentional or accidental, and is temporary or permanent, she has found another way to forge a deep connection with her legion of fans and make a splashy PR statement.

The PR Takeaway: Why deny? Perceived flaws can be PR gold when spun the right way. Instead of going on a crash diet to shed the added weight, Gaga turned it into a tool for good – and good PR. She revealed that she has been bulimic since her teen years, says she is happy at her current weight (recent photos would be nice), and has launched an interactive campaign with a positive message. Pure PR gold that will be monstrously successful.

What’s your PR Verdict?