By now, or unless you’ve gone on a fasting diet of all things media since last Friday, July 11, you’ve heard that LeBron James (@KingJames), arguably the best basketball player (currently) on the planet, announced that he was “coming home;” going back to where his career began with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He brilliantly passed PR 101 with his announcement, where he miserably and memorably failed it with “The Decision” just four years ago.
So in a society that loves the rise, the fall, and the rebirth of athletes and celebrities, what made the difference? It’s often the personal willingness to get to the rebirth phase. It’s the difference between a Roger Clemens and an Andy Pettitte or a Jason Giambi and an A-Rod.
In his letter, LeBron, whether knowingly or unknowingly…but probably knowingly, hit some of the key points when facing a crisis communications situation after an event has occurred:
- Acknowledge the Issue: “If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently.”
- Empathy (For any victims, including a possible apology; which will be debated in legal circles until the end of time): “Northeast Ohio…I sometimes feel like I’m their son…it drives me…I want to give them hope when I can… I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
- Has it Happened Before or Why Did it Happen: “These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise…without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”
- What Will Be Done Differently: “I’d obviously do things differently…I’m not promising a championship…I’m not having a press conference or a party…it’s time to get to work.”
With that, LeBron has not only come home, but he’s also shown how to “turn the corner.”