The Proof is in the Press Release

49ers player Chris Culliver was slammed for his recent comments with radio personality Artie Lang bashing gay people in professional football – and rightfully so. His comments were not only hurtful, but very uneducated.

Following the media frenzy that followed, the 49ers tried to clean up the mess Culliver made, starting first with a press release. A press release is a good start to redacting any foul comments, however, the crafting of the press release is very important.

What stood out to me in this story more than anything else is the wording in the release.

Culliver’s initial comments in the interview with Lang: “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”

How Culliver was later quoted in a press release: “The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”

Based on the way his spoke in the interview, albiet the interview was off the cuff whereas a press release is crafted, I highly doubt the words in the press release were Culliver’s words. Considering his radio interview included the phrase “We don’t got no” makes it hard to believe he would use words like “derogatory” and “discriminating,” even in a prepared statement.

What does this mean for the 49ers? Your player messed up. You tried to clean it up. You came across as insincere.

Lesson Learned: Public Relations practitioners need to keep in mind not only who their audience is, but who they’re speaking for.

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