Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Astros Owner Steps in it Again

Hoo boy... where do I start? As if the "Last-tros" record as the worst team in MLB isn't enough, the peanuts really hit the fan yesterday after KHOU announced that the owner had decided to cancel the Astros annual charity gala "Bow Ties and Baseball Caps" to benefit the Houston Area Women's Center. The shelter is often the place of last resort for abused women and children escaping unsafe home situations.

The owner, Jim Crane, claims the reason has everything to do with the fact that the event has traditionally been put on by the wives of the Astros players and our current team is too young to have wives (perhaps they can't afford them with the lousy salaries Crane is doling out?).   Also the team wants to focus on other unnamed "basketball (?) programs for at-risk youth".  I personally can't think of a more deserving group of at-risk youth than those escaping an abusive home, but Mr. Crane obviously knows better than me.

As a result of the move and the announcement yesterday of Crane's firing of the current team director, the Astros now find themselves in the position of being rudderless and summarily hated by the fan base.  Here's an example of just one of the nearly 200 comments made on one of the sites covering this:"Well, at least Bud Adams is happy. He isn't the most hated owner of an sports franchise any more."

Perhaps this is a calculated strategy by a calculated businessman to get the MLB to agree to move the team out of town.  But honestly who would want them now?  Their fan base hates the owner and the owner is milking all he can out of the team, leaving it husked of talent and the whipping boy of MLB.  Either way, its painful to watch and the team is in desperate need of some good crisis communications.  As we like to study these PR meltdowns at Media Masters and come up with a plan of what we would do in order to learn from real-life scenerios, we propose the following first aid, scratch that, triage care for the organization.
  1. Step one:  Cauterize the wound. Admit you made a mistake to ditch the gala.  Offer to underwrite the event and get back in the good graces of your fan base.  While you are at it, make a big fat donation to the shelter.
  2. Step two: hire a new director of the team with a history of successful emergency surgery on other teams.  Do a clean sweep of management and make it clear to the pubic the new director is making the lion's share of the decisions, within budget limitations set by the owner.  Give Houston hope that "rebuilding the team" isn't just a nice way of saying getting every last nickel out while the getting is good.
  3. Step three: For God's sake speed up recovery by sharing what the team is actively doing to get better.  Training, new hires, INVESTMENT.  By sharing next to nothing, all the team is achieving is leaving the worst possible impression in the minds of all the fans that there is no hope and the Rangers start to look like a good team to "Root, root, root!" for.

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