Mark Grimm


Crisis Communication Advice for Clippers’ Owner

L.A. Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA by league commissioner Adam Silver. Sterling also got the maximum fine league rules allow — $2.5 million. Racist remarks by Sterling surfaced recently in a recording from a ex-girlfriend.

The NBA did what it had to do, act swiftly and harshly, getting a big push from the players. Players union VP Roger Mason, Jr. said, “players were ready to boycott the games” if the right action wasn’t taken.

Now what does Sterling do? He could make matters worse by fighting to keep ownership of the team. That won’t work. A 3/4ths vote by owners can remove an owner. Sterling won’t be hurt financially. He bought the team for less than $13 million in 1981. Its estimated value now is over half a billion dollars.

Sterling, at age 80, should do the following:

1– Acknowledge his racism and concede it is born out of ignorance from a different generation. It doesn’t excuse it, but it does offer some explanation.

2– Apologize. Many people are waiting to hear it. It is especially hard for a billionaire to apologize, so it will show at least some willingness to change. Of course, true contrition is needed.

3– Seek Counseling. Racism is a learned behavior and it can be unlearned.

4– Change Behavior. Actions always speak louder than words.

There is nothing irrevocable about what Sterling did. He didn’t kill anyone and racial equality, at its core, presents a very persuasive argument for new thinking.

The episode may be a positive thing for Sterling. It has forced a choice on him — die a scorned and bitter old man or create a legacy of redemption that will endure long after any performance by his basketball team.

The ball’s in your court, Mr. Sterling.

The writer owns a communications company and often appears as a media analyst on crisis communication issues.

College Grads Need Strong LinkedIn Presence

It’s graduation time for millions of college students facing this new reality — they need a job.

The savvy ones have already created a strong LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals and you’d be surprised how many soon-to-be graduates don’t have a presence there. A 2013 survey indicated nearly half of students have never even used Linkedin and the number with strong profiles is certainly a much smaller percentage. It’s a mistake that can be fixed.

Employees search LinkedIn for talent and there are a huge number of jobs posted there. LinkedIn even has a Student Jobs 101 page to offer guidance.

My advice:

  • Begin with a professional photo, not one from the last keg party or of your giant tatoo. Visit here for tips on how to look good in a photo.
  • Don’t try to “spin” your way into an interview. Be honest. There’s no need to hide the fact that you have limited experience. Employers don’t hire college kids for experience. They look for brains, the ability to learn quickly and work ethic. Your LinkedIn profile should reinforce that notion.
  • Have a strong summary. It should explain what you bring to the table. Focus on how you can help an employer.
  • Show proof. What’s in your background that provides evidence you can bring something to the table?
  • Be passionate. Never underestimate the attractiveness of genuine enthusiasm.

For some sound advice on things like keywords, recommendations and connections, visit here.

It can seem overwhelmingly facing the job market for the first time. Take advantage of the help that’s out there.

The writer is a small business owner and longtime adjunct college professor.

TV News Insights Not Found in a Book: Hoppel Profile

Albany TV news journalist with media insights

WNYT-TV13 News Director Eric Hoppel

Longtime Albany TV news man WNYT-TV13 News Director Eric Hoppel says, “I never know what my day will be like.” It’s an appealing feature of a job that comes with ongoing challenges — increased competition, lower profit margins, tough budget scrutiny and playing the role of psychologist for employees.

Hoppel rose to his position as a leading voice in upstate NY journalism the old fashioned way, he earned it. He started in glamorous Altoona, PA as a weekend TV news producer, working 14-hour days while getting paid minimum wage for eight.

News is “what interests or affects people,” he told a College of St. Rose media class. While we “all cover the same big stories,” Hoppel says his department tries to distinguish itself by trying to tell why a story is important, adding special segments like Athlete of the Week and 13 Kids Who Care and maintaining an experienced staff that has deep community roots.

Is there room for all the local news stations to survive in the Albany TV market? “I don’t know” is his candid answer. The new realities are that you will see more one-man bands (a single person performing as reporter, videographer and editor). Hoppel says he’s learned to be creative about how to cover the things you really want to cover but don’t have the budget to do it the way you might have had in the past.

His advice for young job seekers, “If you want a job in TV news, be a producer.” They are the most in demand, according to Hoppel, a former producer himself. Whatever your chosen field, “there will always be a need for good communicators and good writers.” Some of my students smiled at that, they’ve heard that a few dozen times from their professor.

What jazzes the boss the most? When we do a story about a person and he or she calls to say, “Thanks, that helped me.” Hoppel added, “I also love it when we do a good story no one else has.”

The passion still lives. You can’t survive the business without it.

The writer is a former TV news anchor/reporter and adjunct media professor. He helps clients with media strategy and training.