Don’t Let The Redskins Get Away With This One

Posted on October 30, 2009

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Does anyone in the Redskins organization have a clue about PR? Some of them probably do, but they are either aren’t speaking up or are being shutdown.

The team has a new policy that prevents fans from bringing signs of any kind to home games—not just offensive signs, but all signs. As this AP wire story points out, the new policy “coincides with an increase of signs critical of owner Dan Snyder and front office chief Vinny Cerrato during Washington’s 2-5 start.” It’s pretty clear, Snyder doesn’t want signs being seen that are critical of him and the management of the team.

Here’s the problem. If fans are shown on TV with signs that say something bad about Snyder and the organization, it’s not a great thing—you’d prefer to not have that going on, if you can help it.

But now, the Redskins’ decision to ban all signs is getting the team a lot more negative attention than if some unwanted signs had been held up at the games. The issue is now getting more airtime from the media and is being talked about much more by the public than if the team had just let things happen naturally.

By all means, take a sign that the public would find offensive. But don’t take one just because it offends the owner and his shrinking number of supporters. And don’t take the positive ones.

Dan, these are your team’s fans—they put thousands of dollars and hours into supporting the Redskins. An endless waiting list for tickets may make it feel like you can do anything you want, but I’m guessing fewer people are rushing to put their names on that list these days and you’re probably not selling as many jerseys as you normally do. Whether their signs say something good about the team or something bad about you, these signs are all being held up by people who simply want to see their team headed in a positive, organized direction again. They love their team so much that they’d be willing to keep handing you their money to watch their team lose. But everything has its limits and you’re pushing it, by not showing the team is following any sort of plan and—even more so—with downright poor public relations decisions, like the sign-ban-type slaps-in-the-face, that are far more damaging than any win-loss record.

It’s no secret that Redskins fans aren’t happy with the team and it’s owner, and people don’t need signs to know this. They also don’t need signs to know what a lousy job the team is doing at public relations—in fact, the ban on signs has made a lot more people aware of just how bad the Redskins are at it.

A couple of sidenotes
—>Publicly the NFL isn’t saying that they have any problems with the Redskins ban on all signs, according to news reports. They’re saying it’s “a team and stadium matter.” But I sure hope that behind the scenes someone in the league office is letting the Redskins organization know how absolutely foolish it is for them to tell fans they can’t bring in any signs at all—the NFL stands to lose in this mess as well and I hope someone in the league office strongly encourages the Redskins to wise up.

—>Finally, to Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Bog who, in a recent post about the sign story, said:

“I know, I know, you’re sick of this story. I’ve read your comments. I’ve seen your e-mails. You want me to write about something else. But I think it’s important, and it still makes me angry.”

Don’t let this story die, Dan Steinberg! You’re right, it is important. And what the team is doing makes me angry too, and I’m not even a Skins fan. It’s absurd. Keep it up!

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Posted in: PR/Marketing, Sports