The Ray Rice Situation is Not a PR Crisis

Instead, I’ll tell you what it is.

The deplorable actions taken by Ray Rice and, subsequently, the extremely inappropriate actions taken by Roger Goodell and other NFL executives in response to Rice’s actions are, above all, a human crisis.

This situation is an attack on decency, respect, honor, trust, safety, equality, love and consideration.

As someone who works in PR, I know quite well the importance of effective public relations messaging. But in this moment, we need to stop looking at these events as a problem for the PR team to solve and instead frame them as a fundamental dysfunction with how we treat each other.

Sure, PR staffers for the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens are undoubtedly working overtime right now. This, however, is a result of deeper-level issues with not one, but a large handful of individuals who lost regard for their fellow mankind.

Roger Goodell and the many others involved in this cover-up need to lose their job — immediately. But more than that, each of those individuals need to perform serious internal evaluations as a first priority. They need to realize that when disgusting actions like domestic abuse are covered up and forgiven, a message is sent that such actions are acceptable. Clearly Ray Rice considered his actions acceptable, then the Ravens followed suit by keeping him employed by their football team and not even benching him a single game. Even more, the NFL followed that lead by suspending Rice for only two games. This is a shorter suspension than those players who have gotten caught for smoking marijuana. A message that the NFL condones domestic violence was sent across the world to not only fans, but also to victims of various forms of abuse.

In the coming weeks and months, there will probably be announcements of donations to organizations for victims of domestic abuse and campaigns will be carried out to raise awareness of domestic violence around the world. And PR teams will likely have a major part in these events. But why does it take a high-profile event like this to spur such activities?

I wish there was an easy way to solve this human crisis, but it originates from within. The issue starts with one and snowballs outward. It starts with you. So ask yourself: what are you doing to solve the human crisis?

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