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How NOT to Kill Football in the Football Capital of the South

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A presentation dissecting the announcement by UAB to discontinue football, bowling, and rifle in early December 2014 with an emphasis on the PR plan and the resulting crisis management. Presented to the Alabama chapter of the Public Relations Society of America on January 13, 2015.

Published in: Sports, News & Politics
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How NOT to Kill Football in the Football Capital of the South

  1. 1. HowHow NOTNOT to kill footballto kill football in the Football Capital of the Southin the Football Capital of the South PRSA AlabamaPRSA Alabama AndrAndré Nattaé Natta January 13, 2015January 13, 2015
  2. 2. Last time | 2008Last time | 2008
  3. 3. Today a PR case study of the UAB athletics announcement ≠ determining winners/losers, right vs. wrong
  4. 4. I was a student athleteI was a student athlete
  5. 5. We were famous!We were famous!
  6. 6. Discontinued in 2012Discontinued in 2012
  7. 7. We were upset
  8. 8. They were upsetThey were upset
  9. 9. What happened?What happened?
  10. 10. Remember this.Remember this. Also on 12/2/2014...Also on 12/2/2014...
  11. 11. WinningWinning Photo: Shanna Lockwood/USA Today SportsPhoto: Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports
  12. 12. Lost control
  13. 13. Partial timeline 10/28 UAB Football Foundation announcement* 10/31 Boosters meet w/Watts, Mackin, Wagonner, & Williams 11/4 Letter to Watts from boosters released 11/6 Statement from Watts released by UAB** 11/7 BBVA Compass/UAB Soccer complex announcement 11/12 First UAB FF members announced* *Corporate filing has not been completed. **No official statement from UAB between 11/6 - 12/2
  14. 14. About the announcement $1.5 million gift towards project 2nd BBVA named venue in North America (other location is Houston – both soccer) Supports two athletic teams Intended to be press conference event Only press release shared; no rendering
  15. 15. Lost controlLost control
  16. 16. Lost controlLost control
  17. 17. Know your audience “Football is a religion in the Southland, played by the boys and lived and relived daily by their families.” Zipp Newman, former sports editor, The Birmingham News
  18. 18. Know your audience
  19. 19. Not knowing = thisNot knowing = this
  20. 20. Indirect 8:01 into remarks 18:19 total 0:01 into remarks 0:47 total time
  21. 21. DefensiveDefensive
  22. 22. HiddenHidden
  23. 23. Hiding thingsHiding things →→ thisthis
  24. 24. Hiding thingsHiding things →→ thisthis
  25. 25. Since crisis managementSince crisis management started...started...
  26. 26. Less hidden...Less hidden...
  27. 27. SupportSupport Photo: Frank Couch/al.comPhoto: Frank Couch/al.com
  28. 28. ?
  29. 29. Work the plan Celebrate accomplishments Stress excellence Find a template Talk to ALL affected Show solidarity Explain simply Be prepared for anything
  30. 30. Celebrate accomplishmentsCelebrate accomplishments
  31. 31. Please, own it.
  32. 32. Stress excellence “As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses continuing to increase. When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic department, football is simply not sustainable.” Ray Watts, President, UAB December 2, 2014
  33. 33. Men's Basketball 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1999, 2004, 2011 Men's Tennis 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 Women's Basketball 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994 Women's Tennis 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 Women's Volleyball 1990, 1991, 1992, 2006 Men's Baseball 1991, 1992, 1994, 2012 Men's Soccer 1994, 1995, 1999, 2011 Women's Soccer 2003, 2004, 2006 Women's Cross Country 1995, 2006 Men's Golf 1991, 2008 Women's Indoor Track 1995 Women's Outdoor Track 1995 Stress excellence
  34. 34. Find a template
  35. 35. Talk to ALL affected
  36. 36. Show solidarity
  37. 37. Explain simplyExplain simply
  38. 38. Explain SimplyExplain Simply
  39. 39. Explain completely
  40. 40. What would Dr. Volker say about this?
  41. 41. Consider No teams until 1972* No football Division III Division III* Where Volker went to college/first worked
  42. 42. Consider “Criticism also appeared, as in The Wall Street Journal's suggestion that UAB acted irresponsibly in accepting the City of Birmingham's bond issue to help build its football program when Birmingham City Schools lacked appropriate support.” - Tennant McWilliams The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 17: Education
  43. 43. Remember this?Remember this?
  44. 44. $44 million$44 million →→ all student-athletesall student-athletes vs.vs. $10 million$10 million →→ football teamfootball team
  45. 45. Keep updating
  46. 46. Own itOwn it
  47. 47. Questions ?Questions ?
  48. 48. Thanks!Thanks! AndrAndré Nattaé Natta @acnatta@acnatta andre@bhamterminal.comandre@bhamterminal.com

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