Both John Derbyshire and Ozzie Guillen made offensive statements this week which created major crisis’ for their employers – and both deserve to be disciplined by their employers. One wonders what they were thinking?
• First up is the genius who chose to speak in favor of Fidel Castro – in Miami of all places. Ozzie Guillen is employed as manager to help his team, the Marlins win on the field - not to create off the field diversions with politics – and especially not pro-Castro comments in one of the largest Hispanic markets in the country. This major distraction left the Marlins with no choice but to take action against Guillen only a few games into the major league baseball season.
o The Marlins are a business – and their purpose is to win on the field, and make money off the field. Guillen’s statements won’t help the Marlins corporation, or Major League Baseball. If Guillen gets off with only a 5 game suspension he will get off easy – and Guillen needs to immediately commence with a crisis communications program and clarify his statements very clearly. He also needs to apologize – loudly, quickly and repeatedly.
• Next, is the news that The National Review has fired longtime columnist John Derbyshire following an article he wrote for an online magazine that was racist. In the article he suggests white and Asian parents talk to their children about what makes black people different and the threats posed to their safety by black people. Derbyshire advises parents to tell their children not to live or stay long in predominantly black communities, in addition to other offensive comments.
"[Derbyshire's] latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible," said National Review Editor Rich Lowry in firing him. "We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways."
Frankly, Lowry said it exactly right: "It’s a free country, and Derb can write whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Just not in the pages of NR or NRO, or as someone associated with NR any longer."
Owing a crisis PR agency, I wonder:
Did either of these folks have PR reps sitting in on their interviews or editing their content? A good PR representative would have interjected before it got to this point. One wonders what the purpose of Guillen’s interview was – Clearly he didn’t walk into TIME Magazine with an intention of praising Castro – how did he get so far off track?
Now that crisis has occurred they need to be thinking about reputation management – and life after the crisis (John Darbyshire soliciting donations isn’t the wisest move so soon after his offensive statements – unless he wants to write for the KKK newspaper.)
Anyone who says all press is good press may want to ask John Derbyshire and Ozzie Guillen – or the National Review and Florida Marlins if they agree with that concept.
Clearly, all press isn’t good press.
Ronn Torossian is Founder of 5WPR, a leading PR Agency.