PR Blunder of the Year — SF 49ers Training Video

The San Francisco 49ers is in search of a new public relations director while it also goes into damage control mode for its blunder over the now infamous in-house training video.

Everyone is wondering what Kirk Reynolds was thinking when he produced such a controversial video. And even more questions arise when the public found out the owner of the 49ers, John York viewed the video five months ago but apparently did nothing about it.

Although the video was meant to prepare players for dealing with the media and was showed last August in a training camp, it was sent anonymously to the SF Chronicle and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom as a way to expose the “true values” of San Francisco’s football organization.

Consider these four points before embarking on an edgy project:


  1. Practice what you preach. Reynolds’ video was supposed to teach players how to avoid making mistakes with the media – but apparently he wasn’t listening himself.
  2. Get feedback from outsiders before going out on a limb on projects. Enlist a neutral outsider to critique your ideas before implementing them. Sometimes those within an organization are drinking the Kool-Aid and can’t be objective.
  3. Be clear on your goals. What is the purpose of producing a video, presentation or other project? Are your overall company goals in harmony with this project? If not, forgo it.
  4. Does it pass the mom test? Is the project something you would feel comfortable showing your mother, or talking with her about it? If not, don’t do it.

This is one crisis that will take some time to boil over.

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