Linsanity: A different type of PR crisis

Linsanity, the craze surrounding Knick’s star Jeremy Lin, has dominated news markets beyond the sports spectrum this February. After years of losing seasons and sexual harassment suits, the overwhelming positive buzz Lin has brought to the team is certainly welcome.

However an article in PR News raised a realistic media relations question:

“How should largely unexpected great news be handled by PR? Is it much like a crisis, but in reverse?”

PR pros are constantly on edge for bad coverage, with a plan in place to face a crisis head on. So why don’t we have a back-up plan in case news becomes too good, too fast?

The Madison Square Garden group is doing a good job “riding the wave” and packaging stories that are specific to different audiences.

The MSG team also seems to be following the constructs the article outlines: have a plan in place, create a “dream team” to respond to media requests and stay on track. Now they just have to avoid overdoing it.

The PR world can learn from explosive stories like Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, whether or not you know which sport each one plays. To keep positive stories, regardless of the type of business, from becoming stale and overdone, PR teams should monitor the story, use the positive press as an opportunity to engage current stakeholders and gain new ones, and realize when the story is no longer relevant.


2 thoughts on “Linsanity: A different type of PR crisis

  1. Hey Stephanie-

    Your blog post is very provocative. It scrambled my brain for a moment. I never thought about a crisis in positive terms. Jeremy Lin, though, is the perfect example of a positive “crisis.” His star appeal and performances on the basketball court have disrupted ‘business as usual’ for the Knicks and attracted added scrutiny.

    I agree with your assessment. Whether a crisis is perceived as positive or negative, the rules for managing it remain the same. Have a plan, own the dialogue, understand the stakeholders’ interests and assess when business as usual will return.

    Lin’s sudden, skyrocketing popularity is positive but could turn negative if not managed properly. The more attention he gets the less attention other players on the team are given. Egos could be bruised impacting game performances. Lin could also start to play poorly and disappoint fans. Monitoring tools are essential now for deciphering how key stakeholders are responding. A crisis ends when stakeholders pay less attention and essentially lose interest. Lin hasn’t been a trending topic lately on Twitter. Forgive me for showing my age, but, has he ‘jumped the shark’ yet?

    There is also the emotional component. When a negative crisis is over, there is relief. When a positive crisis is over, I imagine there is a letdown. Humans, after all, crave spotlight from time to time. Who wouldn’t like to be adored by millions and called, ‘lintastic?’ Do the Knicks have a plan in place to help Lin adjust to life after the Lin-isms stop? The team should have one.

    Whatever happens, I’ve enjoyed cheering him on. Like you said, it’s nice to follow a sports story that doesn’t involve cheating, steroids or prima donna behavior.


  2. GREAT point about what happens when a crisis is over. It’ll be interesting to see how the MSG team keeps him interesting enough to sell tickets but not overbearing and, like you said, a let down.

    He’s not egotistical is he? I thought he had the whole Tebow thing going on where the spotlight was on him but every time he’s interviewed he glorifies Jesus and his teammates. I could be wrong, I admittedly only followed Linsanity closely for a week or so before the NFL Combine started.

    I think his biggest threat right now is himself. I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll have a “Phelps” moment and get caught at a party somewhere, but all it takes is a few more losing games and the Knicks have lost their wave of bandwagon fans, which means a loss of money.

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