In the NBA, a team must attempt a basket which touches the rim or scores before the 24-second shot clock expires. During Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the AT&T Center in San Antonio needed a shot clock to speed up the pace of releasing a statement.
The Center’s air conditioning broke during Game 1. ABC showed rows of fans fanning themselves. Players discussed the temperatures. For most of the game, the TV commentators discussed the problem regularly and analyzed how the temperatures impacted the players. While this storyline played out on national television, the commentators repeated they were awaiting a statement from AT&T Center.
ABC’s courtside reporter finally relayed the Center’s statement with about 9:38 left in the game. In essence, the statement explained the AC broke and the Center apologized.
This was crisis communications playing out on live television. So what took so long for a facility to craft and release a statement that a rookie PR pro could write? Why were we awaiting a statement? Why wasn’t ABC interviewing courtside someone with the facility who could explain the problem?
When preparing for big, national events showcasing your “house,” you hope people take every precaution to prevent lights from shutting off during the Super Bowl or the AC from breaking during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But we judge communicators, much like athletes, on how they handle adversity. PR pros should consider setting up their own shot clocks. They can set those clocks for longer than 24 seconds, but the goal is to respond quickly. And if you craft such a statement quickly and a broadcast network continues to tell a national audience it’s awaiting your comment, make a fast break to someone who can get the word out.