What Joe Ricketts and The Cubs Should Have Done

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

It was the contents of a series of digital communications — email messages — that ushered in the scandal engulfing businessman Joe Ricketts and the iconic sports franchise his money paid for.

Cloudy skies, figuratively ahead, for the Chicago Cubs and Joe Ricketts. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

But it would take an old-fashioned form of communication to help mitigate the embarrassment and loss of respect (and maybe business) caused by this unadulterated and sad mess.

A quick recap: This week, a website called Splinter News revealed that Mr. Ricketts, the billionaire founder of brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, sent and responded to a series of emails that that in essence equated Muslims with being evil and not welcomed in the United States.

Mr. Ricketts, whose offspring run the Chicago Cubs, both issued somewhat static statements of apology, stating the Islamophobic communications were wrong, uncalled for and don’t belong in modern society — or affiliated with a Major League baseball team.

Apologies certainly are required here, without question. But what both the billionaire and his son Tom Ricketts, the Chairman of the Cubs, should have done is made those statements, live and in person, not through the totally controlled process of a statement issued from a corporate suite.

Hold a news conference, admit from the heart the messages were wrong, offer to meet with Muslim leaders, offer to get some kind of behavioral treatment, host a conference designed to build better understanding of different cultures — do more than just apologize, then close the book.

In an editorial published today, the Chicago Tribune (which we subscribe to) offered this rhetorical question: “While Ricketts and the Cubs responded quickly, they didn’t blow anyone away with the passion of their regret. We wondered whether a public relations consultant and a dozen lawyers had signed off.”

Shout out to the Tribune editorial team: Perhaps a seasoned and competent public relations professional for both Joe Ricketts and the Cubs did propose what I stated above. But, public relations counsel is just that — advice provided to the client.

In some cases, the client does not follow the advice.

 

 

 

Okay Mr. Ricketts: I Want to Buy a Piece of the Chicago Cubs

By Edward M. Bury, APR  (aka The PRDude)

News last week from the corner of Clark and Addison streets made big headlines here and across the nation.  Unfortunately, the headlines didn’t boast of a dramatic win by the team that plays baseball in the park at that fabled Chicago intersection.

416x31_partyofthecenturyThe news in question: The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, are contemplating selling minority shares of the ball club.  The extra dollars, or hundreds of millions of dollars actually, would be earmarked for fixing up venerable Wrigley Field, now in its 100th year.

Note to company Chairman Tom Ricketts: Count The PRDude in on this deal. My confirmed contribution amount is below.

$5.

I know, that’s not much.  Won’t buy a beer at the ballpark, much less a CubsFrosty Malt if those delicious frozen confections are still sold by vendors.

But, I have added value as a minority investor: I am the PRDude after all and a well-known blogger; and I’m an Accredited public relations professional.

My skills as a seasoned communicator — and long-standing, long-suffering — Chicago Cubs fan most surely will come into value, if not this season then in the years to come.

Like all chronic Cubs fans, my century — make that millennium — would be made if the team won the World Series.  And, like all chronic Cubs fans, I’ll cheer and root through another disappointing season, which 2014 is turning out to be.

(As of this writing, the Cubs are in last place with a 2-5 record; but they are ahead of the Pirates at the moment.)

WrigleyShould the Ricketts family secure the funding they need to rebuild Wrigley, with my $5 included, I would be an ideal fan/investor/counselor to handle communications for the renovation work.  Most of my PR career was representing real estate concerns or associations, I’ve been to the park hundreds of times since the mid 1960s and I have handled a crisis or two.

For credibility, I’ll wear my vintage 1984 Cubs cap and APR  pin during gatherings with the media.  Could any big shot investor bring that kind of credibility?

So what do you say, Mr. Ricketts?  Do we have a deal?  Tell you what: I’ll up the ante to the amount below.

$10.

What else has the PRDude had to say about the Cubs?  Here are two posts.

A PR Game Plan from 2010 and a post from last year on a concerted “public relations push.