Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jour 4470 Blog 3

How The Tim Tebow Story is Both an Ethical and PR Issue

JOUR 4470 Blog 3

By: Michael Haake

I like to think of public relations professionals as professional get-out-of-jail for almost free specialists. From an advertising prospective, PR professionals fix the mistakes that result in bad business decisions and idiotic advertising moves. (The very idea that Gucci thought this would be a good way to market its product is puzzling to say the least). I don’t know if this is the right way to think about PR and ethical theories, but I’ll give you another opinion. Public relations professionals are the ethical police. They are there to ensure that a company (or in today’s world even a celebrity) follows an ethical road when making decisions. The PRSSA can be talked about endlessly, so I’ll avoid referring to it in this blog, but if you would like to read about it you can do so here. This addition of Michael Haake’s Blog will focus on a single PR case and how it applies to the ethical theory communitarianism.

Let’s start this thing.

Everyone and their brother know about the big PR nightmares that have happened over the past 20 years. There are countless stories and opinions about those PR incidents. It doesn’t seem right to make someone read about those stories over and over again… Right? What about a story that you have heard about recently (unless you live in box and have no idea that the Houston Oilers are now the Tennessee Titans or that Bill Clinton liked his intern)? I’m talking about the trade that landed Tim Tebow in New York. One might ask how heck this applies to ethics and PR. Well, it does and the overall best PR solution is very unclear. I’ll let you be the judge on this one.

Think about it. Tebow, the unconventional quarterback that stands for everything that is right in the world, going to a team with locker room issues and a quarterback (Mark Sanchez) who just signed a 3 year extension. By acquiring Tim Tebow, the New York Jets have started a communitarian problem. The theory of communitarianism suggests that an individual has a responsibility towards his or her community. If we look at the Jets team as a community or family unit this theory can be applied. Mike Tannenbaum, the general manager of the Jets not only started a PR fiasco by trading for Tebow, but also caused this ethical dilemma inside the locker room. There is an audio segment on that discusses the PR nightmare that the Jets brought upon itself that brings up some good points.

While Tim Tebow is an extremely positive presence to bring into a slumping locker room, he also brings what is known as Tebow Mania. Is it fair to put Mark Sanchez through the future boo’s and Tebow chants whenever he makes a mistake? Or is it worth bringing Tebow to the team in order to help bring success to the organization? If we look at this scenario through communitarianism, two arguments can be made and PR professionals might be split even on the outcome.

The first argument supports Mark Sanchez and his right to avoid the heavy criticism that will come with Tebow. Communitarianism comes into play because the addition of Tebow affects the overall fellowship or togetherness of an individual (Sanchez) inside of the community of the Jets. This scenario also affects non-players working in the offices of the community. Can you imagine all the press conferences that front office and coaching personnel will have to conduct if Sanchez goes on a cold streak? What happens if the Jets tell the media that they wish to continue with Sanchez and have no plans on starting Tebow? If this were to happen, you can guarantee that the Tebow Mania bandwagon will start a PR nightmare of endless media segments and stories for Jets fans. If this side of the argument is taken, it is against communitarianism to bring Tebow to the team.

The second argument supports Tim Tebow and his right to help the community of the Jets win. Jets head coach, Rex Ryan (the dude with the foot fetish and wild antics) described the role Tebow will play in an article posted on In short Tebow will be involved in a lot of different aspects of the offence. I’ll call it a hybrid role. If Tebow embraces his hybrid backup role and the tandem of he and Sanchez provides a spark the team needs to win, according to communitarianism, the Jets made the right move. In this scenario, having Tebow on the team positively affects the Jets community. Both quarterbacks look like heroes and the Jets organization provide great PR to its fans.

This case is definitely a weird one. I personally don’t know where I side on it (I’ll let you know my opinion if this affects my fantasy team). Both sides of this ethical argument have valid points. The overall issue that will decide the rightness or wrongness of the argument relies on something that hasn’t happened. How will this play out? Will this lead the Jets to success, or will it bring failure? When week 3 of the upcoming NFL season arrives those questions will be answered and we’ll find out if the Jets are on the good or bad side of PR.

What have we learned? Well, we learned that the Tim Tebow case actually can be applied to PR and the ethical theory of communitarianism. Having Tebow play for the Jets can be both detrimental and positive for the Jets community. PR professionals and the general sports fan can argue the rightness or wrongness associated with Tebow and the Jets. We also learned that it is possible to discuss the Houston Oilers, the Bill Clinton scandal and Tim Tebow in a single paragraph.


I chose to write my blog on this topic because I thought that it was not only going to be unique compared to the rest of the blogs submitted, but also a very weird PR/ethical issue. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed it.


Gucci Ad

PRSSA Code of Ethics

Audio Segment

Tebow Picture

NY Daily News Article

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