How a Lack of Communication Became a Major Fumble for the Rams
By Andy Likes, TVG Vice President
Like it or not, Stan Kroenke, his Rams franchise and the NFL are squarely in the middle of a crisis—and it’s all due to a lack of communication. When Kroenke purchased the majority ownership of the Rams in 2010, he told the NFL, Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis, Just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves.”
Fast forward nearly six years, and it seems Kroenke is ready to pull the moving vans up to Rams Park himself and head west to Los Angeles. Kroenke said very little in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Rams submission on January 4 to move the franchise. He earned the nickname “Silent Stan” for a reason. But it was his silence that spoke volumes as sports writers, news anchors and bloggers all speculated about the future of the team. Only one person knew what Stan Kroenke was thinking—and that’s the problem.
In a crisis, the general public requires more information. This is a full-blown, five-alarm crisis for St. Louis, even though Kroenke may not think so. In these kinds of situations, we often advise clients to spend time building their case and forging partnerships to have others help tell the story. Instead, Kroenke chose silence. In the meantime, Andy Cohen, Joe Buck and other St. Louis advocates started speaking out against Kroenke’s potential move to California. Their quotes filled the airwaves and social media landscape in the absence of anything from Kroenke himself. The Rams organization and even the NFL were conspicuously quiet too, leading everyone else to speculate. That’s a danger, as speculation is frequently incorrect.
Local and state officials, including the Governor, Mayor and the St. Louis NFL Stadium Task Force were not quiet. They patiently played out how, where, when and why the new St. Louis NFL stadium would be built. They chose their words carefully too, not just a Rams stadium, but an NFL stadium. It could also potentially be used for Major League Soccer games, concerts and other events, similar to what Kroenke proposed in LA.
Unfortunately, this situation is far from over—it could have been handled so much better. Even if Kroenke had regular communication with the public about his plans for the Rams, it still may not have changed his request to move the team. But it would have given some peace of mind to the people of St. Louis who’ve spent millions over the years watching Stan’s team play in the Dome and work in the local community. Really what this all comes down to is messaging. Having the right message, while not the most popular, could have made all the difference.