The Mets Connect on Crisis Response
The New York Mets on Tuesday fired its new general manager after ESPN reported he had sent harassing texts and lewd photos to a female journalist. It’s a good example of an organization responding quickly — though not perfectly — to a crisis.
The Mets hired Jared Porter as GM only last month. A major theme of the story is that it needs to improve its vetting process. Another is that this happened as the team — under new ownership — is trying to move beyond missteps of the past.
ESPN published its story Monday night. It relates accusations against Porter for what he did in 2016 when he was with the Chicago Cubs. Mets President Sandy Alderson gave a statement to ESPN in which he said he was first hearing of the accusations. He had spoken to Porter and was reviewing the facts.
“Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse and has previously apologized for his actions,” Alderson wrote. “The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story.”
The Awful Announcing sports blog criticized this statement as falling short and the team for sending the same comment to other media after the story came out. The New York Post called the statement “a little lame.” But this seems unfair; the team acknowledged what it knew and said it was investigating further. Can you imagine if it refused to comment to ESPN? It is true, though, that it should have tailored an updated statement for the other media.
By Tuesday morning the team decided to fire Porter, which was a laudably quick crisis reaction. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” new Mets owner Steven Cohen tweeted at 7:55 a.m. ET. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
Alderson, the team president, gave a press conference (pictured) on Tuesday in which he discussed the original statement and the firing decision. “The statement that we sent out last night was crafted largely before we had a chance really to read the story,” he said. “At about 7:30 this morning, Steven Cohen and I had a conversation at which we agreed that the only course of action here was to terminate Jared, which was done in the next 45 minutes.”
We have terminated Jared Porter this morning . In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it.There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 19, 2021
According to Awful Announcing, Alderson also disclosed identifying information — since scrubbed from the video — about the accuser, who is anonymous. That was a throwing error.
We have another recent, less noticed, example from the sports world of a company reacting to a sensitive crisis. Ralph Lauren Corp. announced it was ending its sponsorship of golf pro Justin Thomas after he responded to a missed putt by uttering a homophobic slur.
Although Thomas quickly apologized, the fashion company acted and put out a strong statement. “We believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation,” it wrote.
The Associated Press pointed out that last year Ralph Lauren was designated by the Human Rights Campaign as the “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”
Clearly, companies and organizations are becoming more sensitive to incidents like these. Crisis communicators should take heed.
Photo Credit: New York Mets/MLB