Red Sox Battening Down the PR Hatches
My favorite fictional Red Sox PR person, Les More, has been working overtime over the past few weeks to determine how to handle the tell-all book just released by former manager Terry Francona -- he of the two World Series championships and the disrespectful severing of ties at the end -- and perpetual media thorn-in-their-side Dan Shaugnessy -- he of the "curse of the Bambino" and other sundry critiques and irritating articles over the years.
I'm picturing a conference call with the ownership group, with GM Ben Cherington and new manager John Farrell in the room with Les.
"Good morning, gentlemen," Les begins. "As you know, the book just came out and Terry Francona is doing the publicity rounds. He's on every talk show and is talking with all of the outlets. We're getting a lot of questions and requests for your response."
Silence from the phone participants. Cherington and Farrell exchange hands-up shrugs and gesture to Les that it's "all his" to continue.
"So here's what I recommend. Remember that scene in "The Godfather" when Michael Corleone tells the corrupt Nevada Senator who is trying to squeeze him on the casino deal, 'My offer is this: nothing.' Well, that's what we need to offer as our response to this book -- nothing."
Telephone audience: "I loved that movie."
More looks at Cherrington and Farrell. Cherrington silently mouths "Werner."
More continues: "Francona and Shaughnessy are having their 15 minutes of fame right now and people are listening and buying the book because they hope there is a lot more dirt than they already have heard about. But most of the interesting tidbits already are out there. If we jump in and respond in any way other than Ben's non-response responses in WEEI -- good job on that, by the way -- we'll give more legs to the stories and to the book overall. We need to let it play itself out and not add any more fuel."
Telephone audience: "Not even a statement from us? Doesn't that seem like tacit agreement that this is all true? Shouldn't I consider dropping in on one of those morning sports shows to set the record straight like I did before?"
Ben and Farrell start shaking their heads side to side, in unison.
More: "Respectfully, Mr. Henry, I wouldn't do that. You open yourself up to even more questions about the problems of the past two years. We want people focused on the future. A month from now, Francona will be wrestling with his own team and we'll see how he does. He won't have time to talk about the Red Sox. Just be patient and let this story fade. That's my best advice to all of you. The email comment you gave to ESPN, Mr. Werner, was fine because it was benign and focused on the future, but I wouldn't even offer that now that the book is out there. I'd just let it stand on its own merits and don't give the story any more oxygen than it already has."
Telephone: "Ben, are you in agreement with this? Don't you think we should at least have a statement refuting the parts of the book that we know are incorrect?"
Ben: "No, Larry, I think we should go with Les's advice and focus on the 2013 season. Let's get back to baseball and try to minimize the distractions."
More looks to Cherington and Farrell. Cherington puts his hand up, signalling for silence. A couple minutes pass.
Telephone: "Okay, silence it is. For now."
More: "Thank you, Mr. Lucchino. I really believe our best response is to go out there and have a great season."
More: "We'll talk with you all again in person at Spring Training."
Telephone: Dial Tone.
Cherington and Farrell shake hands with More as he's packing up his notes. "The hardest PR is often preventing coverage rather than getting coverage," he tells them as he leaves.