Crisis Communication Plan Atlanta Falcons Football Club’s Starting Quarterback Charged for Animal Abuse Arika Zimmerman Fall 2012 Integrated Strategic Communication Crisis Communication Plan Contents



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Crisis Communication Plan

Atlanta Falcons Football Club’s Starting Quarterback Charged for Animal Abuse
Arika Zimmerman

Fall 2012

Integrated Strategic Communication

Crisis Communication Plan Contents:



Situation Description

Risk Assessment

Crisis Communication Team & Coalition Members Contact List

Stakeholder Map

Key Messages & Supporting Facts

Communication Goals

Theoretical Foundation Used to Achieve Goals & Create Tactics

Communication Tactics & Execution Order

Post-Crisis Evaluation

Execution Documents – Internal & External


3

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4-5

6

7

8

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10

11-24



Situation Description:



  • The quarterback and face of the Atlanta Falcon was arrested for his connection with a dog fighting operation at his residence is Virginia.




  • Fans want to return their Vick apparel and many of which no longer wish to represent Vick because he is seen as a criminal.




  • As of Thursday, Michael Vick has made no statement to the press. Many different reactions coming from the fans.




  • Fans are starting to boycott Vick apparel from Nike and Reebok.




  • Team and Michael Vick is losing endorements

Risk Assessment: HIGH

The risk for this crisis is high. Fans of the Atlanta Falcons have already begun requesting to return their Atlanta Falcons Michael Vick Gear and refunds on season tickets. Fans do not wish to be associated with a criminal. The severity of this crisis is also high because:



  • Loss of loyal fans

  • Loss of future ticket holders

  • Lost Revenue >$

  • Loss of Endorsements


Crisis Communication Team & Coalition Members


Arika Zimmerman – Crisis Team Leader

Public Relations Manager

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 301-802-5103

Fax: 301-555-5103

azimmerman@falcons.com

Arthur Blank

Owner and Chairman

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 555-555-5555

ablank@falcons.com



Rich McKay

President & CEO

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 301-854-0922

Rmckay@falcons.com


Thomas Dimitroff

General Manager Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 301-802-5103

tdimitroff@falcons.com

Henry L. ‘Hank’ Aaron

Senior Vice President

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 473-275-1172

haaron@falcons.com


Kendyl Moss

Director of Community Relations

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 264-345-0193

kmoss@falcons.com


Chris Millman

Community Relations and Youth Programs Manager

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 564-345-2634
Mike Gilsenan

Director of Ticket Operations

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 564-345-2634


Tron Stamper

Event Marketing Coordinator

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 564-345-2634





Danny Branch

Vice President of Information Technology

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 301-802-5555

dbranch@falcons.com



Reggie Roberts

Vice President of Football Communications

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 555-802-5103

rroberts@falcons.com



Tim Zulawski

Vice President of Sales and Service

Atlanta Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 443-342-9909

tzulawski@falcons.com


Jim Smith

Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 744-333-5100

jsmith@falcons.com


Frank Kleha

Senior Director of Media Relations

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 264-820-0291

fkleha@falcons.com


Brian Cearns

Football Communications Coordinator

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 264-756-0192

bcearns@falcons.com


Matt Haley

Football Communications Coordinator

Falcons Football Club

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 908-812-3015
Don Rovak

Director of Ticket Sales

4400 Falcon Parkway

Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Cell: 564-333-1614






STAKEHOLDER MAP




Key Messages & Supporting Facts
Key Messages


  • The Atlanta Falcons Football Club is sorry. Our club apologizes for the actions that have occurred any embarrassment that our stakeholders have felt for being associated to this issue.




  • The Atlanta Falcons Football Club does not support this kind of behavior from our athletes. Our coaching staff and employees were not aware of the illegal actions that were occurring. Our coaching staff would have stopped this had they known it was going on.




  • We want our fans to be proud to represent us and proud to wear our memorabilia. Fans can exchange any Michael Vick memorabilia for any other Atlanta Falcons memorabilia of equal or lesser value.




  • We want to ensure that this will not happen again. This Falcons contract will be made stricter to prevent activity like this from happening again. After this incident the fine for these actions will be doubled from what they were before.


Supporting Facts

1.) Over 1,000 electronic signatures were signed in boycotting the apparel. http://smokingsection.uproxx.com/TSS/2011/07/animal-lovers-begin-boycotting-nike-michael-vick



Endo Crisis Communication Plan
Communication Goals:


  • Improve Michael Vick’s image in the media and reduce negative media attention about our team and our players.




  • Gain support from stakeholders while our team goes through this time.




  • Keep ticketholders and other stakeholder’s interest in our team.




  • Prove to stakeholders and public that Michael Vick is sorry and that this is not normal behavior from the players of our football club.




  • Prevent losing sponsors and endorsements.


Theoretical Foundation Used to Achieve Goals and Create Tactics
The theory behind this plan is developed using the Excellence Theory Model 4:


  • Model 4: Two-Way Symmetric Model – This model is also called the mutual understanding model and it in the PR practitioner serves as the intermediary between the public and the organization. The goal is dialogue and both the organization as well as the publics may make changes based on the result of the communication.


Communication Tactics & Execution Order
All items are available on at the end of this report and on the company drive.

Items are made and executed in the order listed below:
Press Releases (Traditional and Digital)

  • Release initial information about the situation and how we are taking our first steps to handle. We want the information coming directly from our organization, so rumors do not start.


Memo to President Rich McKay about Global Communication

  • Our Latino fans cannot be forgotten in this situation. Internal and External Communication styles must be altered to fit them as well.


Press conference from owner

  • Arthur Blank speaks to the public. Televised on ESPN and Fox Sports networks. Video will also be posted on our website.


Social Media Plan

  • Answer questions and post updates onto Facebook and Twitter Page.

  • Use twitter to put information out there.

  • YouTube can also be used to post press conferences and apology.


Apology from Michael Vick

  • Can be seen on our website along with YouTube, ESPN, and Fox Sports networks.


Advertisements for Returning Gear

  • Fans will be notified via facebook and e-mail.


Fans can exchange/return gear to Reebok, Nike, and NFL Shop.

Some of this could be subject to change because we are responding and reacting to the public. (Model 4: Two-Way Symmetric Model)


Post-Crisis Evaluation
In order to find out if our crisis communication method works and gives the type of response necessary, it is imperative to examine the plan once the crisis has been resolved. After the crisis, the team will meet up and answer the questions below.


  1. What went well in the plan?

  2. What went wrong in the plan?

  3. Did we meet our communication goals and portray our key messages?

  4. Did we follow the original plan?

  5. What can we improve on?

  6. What impact did our plan have on the Michael Vick’s and The Atlanta Falcon’s Football Club’s reputation?

  7. Was the media coverage fair?

  8. Do you think that our team has gained any sympathy form the fans?

  9. What was the outcome?


Documents for Plan Executions-

Internal & External

SWOT ANALYSIS OF COMMUNICATION


Strengths
Atlanta Falcons serve as a form of entertainment in the Georgia region. Falcons boost economy in Atlanta.
Michael Vick is the role model for many young football players in Georgia and the rest of the United States.

Opportunities
Falcons can sell Vick memorabilia and use his name. (If his image is saved)
Vick can continue to be seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Weaknesses
Many professional football players already have a ‘thug’ reputation, so any hick-up can be very detrimental.
Every football player’s action reflects on the team, so Michael Vick messing up could hurt the Falcons or cause him to not to be picked up by any other team.

Threats
The NFL can make an example out of Michael Vick by giving him the harshest penalties possible. Falcons can be fined or lose profits on apparel and game tickets.
Loss of endorsements
Fans begin watching other teams, losing ticket profits
Harder to sign good players due to lack of respect to team.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Arika Zimmerman

Atlanta Falcons Football Club



FALCON QUARTERBACK MICHAEL VICK FOUND CHARGED WITH DOG FIGHTING AND ANIMAL ABUSE

SUSPENSED INDEFINITELY
April 14, 2007

{Atlanta, Georgia} – This morning, the Atlanta Falcons Football Club has decided that Michael Vick will be suspended indefinitely from the team. In addition to this year, Vick will be forced to serve 250 hours of community service in a dog shelter or veterinary office.

After the disturbing discovery of 60 dogs at Vick’s secondary residence in Virginia, the Falcon’s Football Club come to a decision that Vick is suspended until the end of the trial. In addition to the suspension, the Atlanta Falcons have fined Vick $175,000. If he is found guilty, Vick will be placed under a probationary period. The coaching staff is embarrassed that one of their players was doing such an action while representing the team.

In addition to the punishments given by the Atlanta Flacon’s, Vick also could face fines up to $350,000 and jail time.

“We are so disappointed with the entire situation, the entire coaching and office staff apologizes on behalf of Michael Vick,” Head Coach Mike Smith stated yesterday morning.

For more information, contact Arika Zimmerman of the Atlanta Falcons Football Club at arika.zimmerman@rexmail.queens.edu
###


Contact

Information:

frankm@falcons.com

Client Contact:

Arika Zimmerman

302-555-5235

arikaz@gmail.com



Spokesperson

Mike Smith

304-555-7786

mikes@gmail.com



Michael Vick Suspended from Atlanta Falcons and Sentenced to 250 Hours Community Service



Core News Facts:

Michael Vick Indefinitely Suspended

Fans Can Return Gear

$175,000 fine

Falcon’s football club Apologizes

Vick Apologizes






Michael Vick Podcast

Michael Vick Video Interview





“We are so disappointed with the entire situation, the entire coaching and office staff apologizes on behalf of Michael Vick,” Head Coach Mike Smith stated yesterday morning.


Memoimages-3

To: Arthur Blank, Owner and Chairman

From: Arika Zimmerman, Head of Public Relations

CC: Rich McKay, President and CEO

Date: 10/19/16

Re: Things we need to avoid

Pitfalls to Avoid When Dealing with Michael Vick Case


As you are aware, we are currently dealing with a very serious situation regarding our quarterback, Michael Vick. While we deal with this current issue, it is very important that we take some things into consideration. While working with public relations we cannot forget about our Spanish fans and other Spanish stakeholders.

Prior to executing our integrated strategic plan, we need to research the Latin-American culture in the greater Atlanta area. We need to understand their values and how they feel about our quarterback’s actions. They could react differently to the current situation and we need to prepare for that by doing a coupe of things.

First, I suggest that we need to make all of the press available in Spanish. Also, when Michael Vick gives his formal apology in English, it is necessary that the Latin-American community that a video of this apology is available on our website with Spanish subtitle. These can be posted on our website. We must be clear that our translation is correct. My second suggestion is to send our press releases to Spanish media platforms. Latin Americans feel disrespected when groups do not try to properly communication with them and do not make valid attempts to communicate in their language. If we want the Latin-American people to hear and see what we have say about Michael Vick, then it needs to be on the Spanish television channels and in Spanish newspapers. If we turn a blind eye to the Latin American population out of the loop, it is only going to make things worse. This demographic needs to know that they are important to our business and we appreciate them being fans of the Atlanta Falcons.

Last, our company cannot generalize the Latin Americans. They are all from different areas of Central America and South America. Therefore, they have different values, cultures, and beliefs.

With that being said, I hope you take my advice into consideration and take my suggestions in order to avoid any pitfalls during these circumstances.
Press Conference:

About the press conference:


Who is speaking: Arika Zimmerman, Head of PR
What is being discussed: Discussing the original events and our first steps. The charity will not be discussed until later in the plan.

Where: Will be located in the pressroom at the stadium. See next page for how the room will be set up.


When: April 25, 2007 @ 10 am

*Arika Zimmerman says:*
//“Hello fellow players, fans, sponsors, and other stakeholders of the Falcons. My name is Arika Zimmerman and I am the Head of Public Relations at the Atlanta Falcons Football Club. As many of you are aware, we are currently dealing with a situation in which our starting quarterback, Michael Vick, has been charged with animal abuse due to his involvement in illegal dog fighting. Moving forward from this situation, the Atlanta Falcons has decided to keep Michael Vick on squad under a probationary period. He is suspended for indefinitely. It will be enforced that Vick volunteers at animal shelters throughout his suspension. All Vick memorabilia can be exchanged for other Falcon’s gear of equal or lesser value throughout the next year and Vick will be giving a formal apology to the community. We would like to formally apologize again for the conditions and our football club is truly embarrassed. Thank you for continuing to support the Atlanta Falcons and taking time to listen to us today. We are now open for questions.”//
*Question Time*

Pressroom Setup

::desktop:photo.jpg

Social Media Plan – Facebook Portion
Our social media plan incorporates activity from both The Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick individually. For each platform, there will be separate statements made from each party.


Status Posted by Atlanta Falcons:

Hello fans, sponsors, and other stakeholders of the Falcons. As many of you are aware, we are currently dealing with a situation in which our starting quarterback, Michael Vick, is being charged with animal abuse due to his involvement in illegal dog fighting at his residence in Georgia. All Vick memorabilia can be exchanged for other Falcon’s gear of equal or lesser value throughout the next year and Vick will be giving a formal apology to the community in the next couple weeks. We would like to formally apologize again for the conditions and our football club is truly embarrassed. The Falcons are still the same team that you have all grown to know and support. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at (301)-555-5103 or message our Facebook page.


Status posted by Michael Vick on his own personal FB page (tags Atlanta Falcons):

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment. The fame of football got to my head and I broke the law while I was caught up in the moment. This situation is proof that nobody is above the law. I am human and humans make mistakes. Unfortunately, in this case, my mistakes did not only effect the way that people look at me, but also affect the way that people look at my team, my coworkers, my fans, and my family… and I am deeply sorry for that. To my fans, friends, family, teammates, I promise that I will make this right and will make you proud to be an Atlanta fan soon.



Social Media Plan – Twitter Portion

Atlanta Falcons tweets:
@Atlanta_Falcons: Quarterback Michael Vick arrested for involvement in dog fighting group. More information will be posted soon.
@Atlanta Falcons: To All Falcons fans. We are sorry for any embarrassment or anger toward the current situation. Any fans can either return Vick gear for full refund or exchange for other Non-Vick Falcons gear starting tomorrow.


Tweets by Michael Vick:
@VickFootball5 sincerely sorry for the poor path of actions that I have chosen in the past.
@VickFootball5 have a lot of soul searching to do…
@VickFootball5 I would like the public to know that the Atlanta Falcons football team is still the same team that you have known and grow to love. I am the same player and dedicated athlete. Hoping to gain your respect back.

Vick will also be responding and being interactive with fans


Social Media Plan – YouTube Portion

Our team will be using YouTube as a social platform to post all of the press conferences, speeches, and commercials. Fans will be able to access these videos at any time without any problem at all.


Also, all videos that are fed through YouTube will be posted on the Facebook page, and Altanta Falcons Official Web Page.

Apology From Michael Vick
Location: in Press Room of Stadium

Pressroom set up is same as above on page 16.



Michael Vick:

// Fans, fellow teammates, owners, residences of Atlanta, I would like to formally apologize for my recent inappropriate actions. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment when things are going so well. The fame of football got to my head and I broke the law and hurt many while I was caught up in the moment. This situation is proof that nobody is above the law, but I am human and humans make mistakes. Unfortunately, in this case, my mistakes did not only effect the way that people look at me, but also affect the way that people look at my team, my coworkers, my fans, and my family… and I am deeply sorry for that. I am deeply sorry for embarrassing my team, my fans, and all others affected by this situation. I hope that one day I can prove to all of you that I am still the same man you thought I was and I am the same leader and player on the field. I promise to never put anyone through this again. To my fans, friends, family, teammates, I promise that I will make this right and will make you proud to be an Atlanta fan.//


---Can be seen on our website along with YouTube, ESPN, and Fox Sports networks.

Internal E-mail Between All Employees:

Memoimages-3

From Arthur Blank, Owner and Chairman

To: All employees of Atlanta Falcons

Date: 10/19/16

Re: Scandal Update

Updates with Arrest Scandal


As many of you are aware, our organization is currently dealing with a situation in which one of our players was arrested for their involvement in illegal activity. We wanted our employees to be the first to know that we are dealing with this situation to the best of our ability. Our goal is to keep the professional and respected name that our organization represents here and stable. Our company represents integrity and we hope that does not change during these unusual circumstances.

In order for this situation to end successfully, our company needs support from it’s employees the same way that we are trying our best to support your work environment.

Thank you for your patience in these circumstances and we promise to keep each of you updating throughout the course of this.

Advertising About Returning Gear:

Attention Atlanta Falcons memorabilia owners and fans:


Due to the recent situation with the arrest of Michael Vick, players will be able to return or exchange their Vick apparel starting May 1st for the next 6 months. Memorabilia must have been bought prior to April 15th in order to qualify for this. We want our sponsors and fans to have the upmost pride in wearing our apparel. Our hotline will be open to questions at any time and you can also check our Facebook page for any updates. Thank you for your understanding and support, our fans are most important to us.

[This will be posted to our Facebook page and e-mails to all season ticket owners]

NEWS MEDIA CONTACT FORM
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT FORM
Who received the call:

Date:


Time:

News Media Calling:


Check Those That Apply:

RADIO__


TV__

NEWSPAPER__

TRADE__

OTHER__


REPORTERS NAME:

PHONE:


MOBILE:

FAX:
INQUIRY:

DEADLINE:

CALL BACK ASSIGNMENT:

RESPONSE:

DATE:


TIME:

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