A famously polarizing figure, Kobe “Bean” Bryant always managed to provide equal inspiration for both is supporters and detractors. And while I myself have never been a fan of his game (selfish, derisive, inefficient…I could go on) I can’t imagine anyone wasn’t impressed with how he handled last Friday.
A quick recap: in the closing minutes against the Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant tore his achilles tendon. What followed afterwards was akin to a crisis communications situation. Media outlets and fans immediately weighed in on whether this was the end of his career. The chatter only increased the following day, with the public lampooning him and writing his epitaph in earnest.
What happened next serves as a great case study for handing a public relations crisis: Kobe Bryant took to Facebook and wrote an honest and reflective post. Rather then talk in sound bites and cliches, Kobe admitted his frustrations and acknowledged the detractions levied at him. However, he eschewed any idea that his career might be at an end. At time of writing, the post has received over 16 million likes!
Kobe, by issuing an immediate responses that was honest, impassioned and that acknowledged the public backlash, was able to direct the narrative. Kobe reached out to his fans through social platforms to make sure that the conversation didn’t get away from him (he even Tweeted a photo of himself, pre-operation). The result? People now assume he is going to be back sooner than expected!
If you ever find yourself in a criss communication, remember to follow this model by being honest, prompt in issuing a response, and acknowledging the conversation that is being had about you.