Well, I made it back on the treadmill this morning. And from what I can tell from the TV Talking Heads — life as we know it is pretty much on hold until LeBron James reveals “his decision” on ESPN tonight. Sheesh.
This isn’t a rant about LeBron — and whether he should stay in Cleveland. Or not. And I don’t particularly like or follow professional basketball. But I can understand the implications — financial and emotional — that LeBron’s decision has for fans, teams, cities and so on. When BFGoodrich, one of my former employers, abandoned Akron a decade ago for Charlotte, there was nothing even close to this amount of community angst. Trust me.
Beyond all that, there is a lesson here about managing the news. And I expect that most reporters and others view that statement negatively: managing the news. But that’s exactly what most organizations and individuals attempt to do with any major announcement. Few succeed for a variety of reasons — not the least of which is that reporters generally can find someone who has insider information and is willing to flap his/her jaws about it.
But LeBron — whether you like it or not — has the opportunity to both control and shape the message, recognizing that his decision is going to please some and greatly disappoint others. In the long run does this matter? Probably not as much as his performance on the court and quite likely his ability to carry a team to a championship. But we are talking about reputation and marketing here — with some really big bucks hanging in the balance.
So with all the reporters — national and local — who have been fretting over this decision for years now, LeBron still controls the timing, story and the venue for the announcement.
He’s managing the news.