Houston, We Have a Problem: 3 PR Lessons from the Worst Press Conference in Baseball History.
If you’re looking for a little comedic relief this week, just watch the Houston Astros’ February 12th press conference. Spring Training pressers in the MLB are usually uneventful affairs, but this doozy was a 30-minute disaster-class in how not to respond to a crisis. Since November, when they were (credibly) accused of electronically spying on opposing catchers’ signs and relaying them to hitters in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Astros have been embroiled in baseball’s largest scandal since the Steroid Era. The controversy, which included a World Series-winning year for the Astros, has resulted in a $5 million fine, lawsuits, forfeited draft picks, and the firing of managers not just in Houston, but also in Boston and New York. But when it came time to face the press after four months of scrutiny, Astros owner Jim Crane and star players Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman botched it. They issued half-hearted apologies without showing genuine contrition or claiming full responsibility for their actions and gave contradictory answers to reporters’ questions that raised even more questions afterward, which only added to the negative coverage. They expressed a desire to move past the scandal but gave critics no reason to let them off the hook. It was never going to be good, but it didn’t have to be such a trainwreck. Here are three crisis communications takeaways for PR professionals left scratching their heads after Houston’s damning press conference.