Armchair Account Director | Pats accused of stealing signals

What would you do? What would your counsel be to the New England Patriots who have long been accused of stealing signals and calls from their opponents bench?

The matter came to a head on Sunday when the New York Jets launched a formal complaint over a cameraman who was filming their defensive signals from the coaches to the players.

Stealing signals is nothing new in sport. In rugby union, the line-out is no longer a test of how high you can jump/lift but how quickly you can decipher your opponent’s calls. The modern day second row needs to be two parts giraffe, one part gazelle and one part Enigma.

This, coupled with the ever increasing need for the slightest competitive advantage in the world of professional sports, means that this is a bit of a non-story but that doesn’t mean it’s not getting a boat load of coverage.

So as the Pats’s media relations director, can you hunker down, put up the hatches and say nothing?

The NFL season is not a long one so saying nothing now could jeopardise your chances of positive coverage down the line when you really need it, not to mention your relationship with the beat reporters.

Can you come and say just what sports fans across the country is thinking – “everyone does it so why can’t we?”

What would you do?

Now imagine you’re being accused of actively poaching a rival’s workforce while preparing for an IPO.

Now what do you do?


4 Responses to Armchair Account Director | Pats accused of stealing signals

  1. This comment is from a PR guy who also has followed the Pats since the day I was born…so I’m sure some segment of bias will show through.

    I would apologize as the head coach to my players, my fans, my owner and the commissioner (done). I would then let the punishment come down from NYC and not complain in the least. The coach takes all the blame and Belichick admits again what he did was wrong and that they are going to give up draft picks or whatever the punishment. Never say “everyone does it” or something to that effect.

    The next step is to then turn the stories on the players (the Pats do this very well) and start clamoring about how people think the only way they can win is if their coaches cheat…start playing the disrespect card, removing the coaches all together and making it all about the players making plays.

    Finally, have your defensive players begin to talk about how antiquated the signal calling is for the Defense (hand signals) versus the Offense (in helmet mic/speaker system). Then the discussion will turn to how the system needs to change.

    Stacey James, the Patriots Media Relations Director, can do all of this by working the messaging with the main Patriot players who are most respected (Vrabel, Bruschi and Brady).

    Now…go Pats!


  2. Sarah Wurrey says:

    Ditto on everything Kyle said, particularly the “everyone does it” angle–yeah it’s TRUE, but that would be poor PR form and smack a little bit of whining (something a powerhouse team like the Pats are in no position to do).

    That being said, it probably wouldn’t hurt to let some friendly media types run with that particular angle. Let the columnists point it out, while the team toes nothing but an apologetic line.

    And also…go Pats!! (I seriously doubt that this ridiculousness had anything to do with their victory on Sunday. It was dominance, pure and simple!)

  3. The best way to end the story cycle? Pats 38, San Diego 14.



  4. […] Ed Lee asked about the PR of Belichick last week, before the fine came down, and here is what I commented on his post: […]

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