January 26, 2015
The folks we spoke to told us loud and clear: they don’t buy anything that Belichick is saying. In fact – his press conference is more like a “what not to do” in communications. Here’s the breakdown…
SHOCK? We are in awe that he would expect us to believe that he was shocked to learn about the situation. Why would he lead with his reaction to the accusations? He should have gone straight to the heart of the matter. No one believed that he was shocked to learn the news… or that he had no knowledge. No one that we spoke to. Anywhere.
THE LESSON: He should have gone straight to the heart of the situation. If we were advising him, we would have told him – no one cares how you reacted to the news. We only care if it was true. Take a lesson from Bill Clinton. He didn’t start by saying “I was shocked to learn that people think that I had sex with that woman. He said, “I did not have any sexual relations with that woman.”
SOT: When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of the situation until Monday morning.
Nobody cares about practice balls. Wet, sticky, cold practice balls have NOTHING to do with game day balls. Don’t swimmers practice with extra suits and weights? How would that prove his case? The folks we spoke to had no idea what he was trying to prove by talking about practice balls and how tough he is in practice. In fact, it raised more questions than it answered.
THE LESSON: Introducing extra information in a crisis situation makes you appear defensive. Keep it short and simple.
SOT: Let me just say that my personal coaching philosophy, my mentality, has always been to make things as difficult as possible for players in practice. And so with regard to footballs, I'm sure that any current or past player of mine will tell you that the balls we practice with are as bad as they can be. Wet, sticky, cold, slippery, however bad we can make them, I make them.
He was right to have no comment on Tom’s balls. The best part of his message: when he deferred to Tom Brady to comment on his ball preferences. In fact, it was the only good part of his message…
THE LESSON: One of the most powerful things communicators can do when being questions is admit that they don’t have the answer. It adds credibility. Don’t be afraid to refer folks who question you to an expert.
SOT: Tom's personal preferences on his footballs are something he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide.
You can’t have it both ways coach. He said he never had a conversation about the air pressure of balls in his entire coaching career. Then, not 20 seconds later he goes on to tell us that he knew exactly what the air pressure of his balls were at the start of the game. The folks we spoke to called him out on it.
THE LESSON: Nothing erases your credibility faster than contradictions.
SOT 1: I can tell you that in my entire coaching career I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up.
SOT 2: I've learned about the inflation range situation. Obviously, with our footballs being inflated to the 12.5-pound range, any deflation would then take us under that specification limit. Knowing that now, in the future, we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game.
Communicating in crisis isn’t easy. And, we can learn a lot about what NOT to do from Coach Belichick’s press conference. If only he had called us before he went out there…