While sweating out the weekend fun Monday morning, I saw on the news that the Jets were “introducing” its new backup quarterback, Tim Tebow, with a full-on press conference. This move made me chuckle and reminded me of the movie Christmas Vacation, where Uncle Eddie says to Clark Griswold after Clark’s Christmas bonus is to the tune of the "Jelly of the Month" Club, “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on givin’ the whole year.”
In a lot of ways, Uncle Eddie is talking about the Jets and their communications strategy. After crawling into the end of the season and not making the playoffs, you'd think the turmoil in the locker room that plagued last year’s team would be stomped and a reinforcement of team values and the way a team communicates would be driven home from top down (executives to management to coaches to players).
Instead, the Jets want to make a grand splash about the signing of the most polarizing sports figure since Dennis Rodman. What’s funny is this has NOTHING to do with Tim Tebow. Instead, it has to do with how communications is driven through various channels.
In this case, the Jets should have taken the "less is more" approach, which we all know is different from their past behavior. Sometimes organizations need to re-evaluate the way they communicate and look at the impact from a macro perspective. What did the press conference about Tim Tebow really achieve? From an external PR perspective, it just fueled the fire with the press about how it’s being really handled internally. Internally, team executives now have to worry about how this press conference is perceived by the other players, which can quickly cause fractures in the locker room – something they're already desperately trying to avoid this year.
The lesson? When you think you have something really big to say, take a step back, talk to people you trust - important: people with varying views of how to communicate – and don’t instinctively jump into something that's geared to get jarring, short–term PR. In most cases, it’s the longer communications strategy that will win. Look at how well it’s worked for Rex Ryan these days…
Todd Cadley is a Senior Vice President at Horn Group. Got something to say about the Jets or Tim Tebow? Let him know on Twitter at @toddcadley.