Lions erasing questions about Jim Schwartz’s job create even more questions

schwartz

An important lesson anyone in sports public relations needs to learn is that trying to avoid problematic questions or hide negative storylines often only makes things worse. That would seem to be the case with the Detroit Lions, who have drawn much more negative attention by apparently excising some press conference questions and responses from a transcript provided to media. MLive reporter Kyle Meinke reported Sunday that the team transcript of press conferences after the team's loss to the Vikings excluded questions about the job status of head coach Jim Schwartz:

As Richard Deitsch pointed out, that's not the most brilliant PR plan by the team:

Selectively omitting questions and answers makes for a much more problematic story than just including the whole thing. 

The Lions aren't stopping any stories about Schwartz's job status by doing this; most of the reporters there were likely recording the conference and/or taking notes manually anyways, so this just adds a layer of inconvenience, and it's not like you needed to be in that room to write a takedown of Schwartz's performance (SI's Doug Farrar did a nice job from afar). This isn't preventing anything; it's giving reporters more reasons to criticize the team, and it's just making the organization look bad.

In situations like these going forward, teams need to think more carefully about all the pros and cons of excluding something from a transcript. The immediate benefits  ("Hey! There are less quotes we don't like on this sheet!") may seem attractive, but removing those quotes doesn't actually stop anyone from using them, so the gains are limited. The downside is much more substantial; if/when something like this comes to light (as it usually will, as only one reporter needs to compare the transcript with their memory/their own notes), all of a sudden there's more impetus to write about it (and to go after the organization). The common saying "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up"  that likely originated with the Watergate scandal applies here; even though this is on a substantially different scale and the Lions aren't doing anything criminal, their actions to try and mute a storyline they dislike are in fact drawing more attention to that story. "Jim Schwartz asked about his job status" isn't all that interesting. "Lions try to hide questions about Jim Schwartz's job status" is a much more notable story. Teams would be smart to realize that going forward, and to realize that it can be much more worthwhile to endure a brief moment of negative publicity than to undergo wider public shaming for trying to hide something.

Andrew Bucholtz

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing. He also covers the CFL and other sports for Yahoo! Canada.

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