Quick question: What’s the difference between how the NBA handled the Donald Sterling fiasco and how the NFL is handling their domestic violence crisis? Hint-one is football and the other is basketball is not the answer I am looking for.  If your answer includes any form of the terms response time, well thought out messages, action plan, and/or strategy, you get a prize! Ding ding.

It is mind boggling to wrap my hands around the way the NFL is handling their domestic violence crisis and there are many things to pick on. The Roger Goodell press conference was in trouble from the get-go when the event, slated to begin at the top of the hour, was nearly twenty minutes late to start. Want to piss off the media? That’s a great way to get on their bad side for an entire industry based on  deadlines. Once underway, it didn’t take long to pick up on the awkward and repeated hollow messages, the lack of a well defined action plan and strategy, and the general feeling that the NFL still hadn’t quite grasped the severity of the problem.  But beyond all of that, to me, the most disturbing aspect of the NFL reaction (or lack thereof) was the time that expired between incident number one and the media conference. The tick-tock of the clock as minutes, hours, and days went by before we heard any kind of response from the NFL.

I recently worked with a home builder client who had experienced some negative PR over their plans to expand their development. Instead of  waiting for the issue to become problematic, they got ahead of it and addressed it through some videos we produced to illustrate the benefits of the expansion to their current residents.  Our game plan wasn’t cheap or easy, but the client says the effort provided some much needed context to the big picture and ultimately swayed opinion.

Now back to the NBA and NFL. David Silver’s press conference was timely and swift. The action plan well defined, and the messages sincere. But most important is getting ahead of the problem.  Even if you don’t have all the answers.