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The Quarterback has called an audible.

August 19th, 2009

The QB Blog

In case you don’t know, an audible is a play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage to make a change from the play that was called in the huddle. A QB will use an audible, for example, to switch up the offensive play if he’s uncomfortable with the formation the opposing defense is using.

A few weeks ago, appalled at the decision to allow Vick back into the league, I vowed to boycott all things Vick and damned the brand that dared to sign him. Well, now he’s a Philadelphia Eagle, and I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is. The morning after the announcement that Michael Vick would bleed green on the gridiron, I offered up my season tickets to the highest bidder, castigating the Eagles’ management for darkening an already tainted image of the Philadelphia sports landscape, for creating a foolish and unnecessary distraction for the team, and most of all, for giving a job to a man who committed cruel and, in my eyes, unforgivable crimes.

However, to avoid being an uninformed zealot (and at the urging of a co-worker), I watched the press conferences on the signing. I watched Tony Dungy speak of the fallen quarterback’s commitment to making good in the community. I watched Michael Vick address the room steadily, without notes and seemingly uncoached, about the mistakes he made and the second chance he had been given. I watched Jeffrey Lurie speak of soul searching and moral deliberation and a need to maintain the character of the organization.  And I watched Andy Reid’s vulnerable empathy as he spoke of his own jailed children and the second chances he hoped they’d get.

When all was said and done, I’d been hit with an offensive play I hadn’t expected. My initial opinion had been tackled (at least a little bit) by a communications audible. The Eagles’ well-played public relations strategy was effective, and it is forcing me to ask myself if I’ve made a fair and informed decision. Am I willing to contemplating the notion that this creep deserves a second chance like anyone else? That remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: until I saw the faces of the opposition and heard the voices of my sworn enemy, there was no way I’d have even considered it.

Behold the power of visuals and voice. If ever there were a doubt whether a point of view is made more compelling with video and / or audio, this ends it in my book. It’s not a prepared statement flashing on ESPN, or a quote in a story on SportsIllustrated.com. I saw all of those, and they did nothing to sway me, the skeptical reader, the cynical consumer.

As a professional, I’ve always recommended visuals or audio to bring clients stories to life, and while I knew it to be the right recommendation from a strategic perspective, I hadn’t realized it quite as much until now. However, also from a professional standpoint, I know that one press conference doesn’t change public opinion overnight. And like my clients’ consumers do, I’ll need more reassurance before the Eagles can make me a buyer again.

Let’s see what the QB calls next.

Posted Under: Public Relations
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