PR Tips: 3 Ways Your Team Can Avoid the ESPN “Wandai Wrection" Crisis

By Jason Mudd

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What’s in a name? A potential PR crisis, especially if you’re an ESPN producer who guessed at pronunciation rather than finding out the actual facts.

Last week, an ESPN producer working at the Little League Championship game spelled out Nagiru Hiramatsu’s favorite band as “Wandai Wrection” during one of the announcements about the player. In reality, Hiramatsu’s band of choice listed on his player profile is “One Direction,” which was mangled on paper and out loud due to the producer’s unchecked spelling and pronunciation assumptions.

Reports circulating about the story point the blame at the producer, speculating that he either just didn’t care about the event, found himself in a hurry or assumed there would be no real viewers of the game.

Wrong.

Not only were were there numerous baseball fans watching, but they noticed the “Mr. Wrection” gaff and started tweeting about it. Popular websites that make fun of errors like this, including the site Awful Announcing, picked up on the tweets. ESPN viewers and online readers also commented, some sympathetically and others not so much.

You may not end up announcing the game of games of the Little League world, but here are three PR Tips and important crisis communication points to consider:

1. Don’t assume the audience didn’t notice a public error; with the quick trigger of social media, not only will they notice, but so will their 9,761 online friends and followers within minutes. Address the error immediately with an apology or statement on social media to help guide the conversation.

2. Carelessness on the part of your organizational team members, especially in public view, can quickly become fodder for videos, blogs and websites. Address it with your own site content that not only acknowledges the mistake, but also helps direct attention elsewhere – such as reminding audiences of your commitment to service and value and thanking them for their loyalty. In this case it would also be helpful to acknowledge the joy ESPN shares in bringing the baseball dreams of young boys everywhere to your screen.

3. If the error was particularly bizarre, as is the case here in the mangling of the band name, audiences may remember it longer. Your statement should match the situation, calling for some creativity – such as a video apology filmed with the real band (One Direction) and/or the player (Hiramatsu).

If your team is involved in a public error, don’t ignore it. Axia Public Relations can help you create a strategy for getting back in the game with your audience.

By Jason Mudd, APR

Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in national public relations campaigns. He is an Emmy-Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. He has worked with great brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Verizon and emerging brands like Brightway Insurance, Pragmatic Works and It Works! Global. Learn more at www.axiapr.com.

Topics: Media Relations, Public Relations, Crisis PR, PR Tips, Social Media

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