One move that costs you.

Credit: NY Post

Sometimes, no matter how many great things that you do, it doesn’t matter.  One event has redefined who and what you are for the rest of your life.  Ronan Tynan, the great Irish tenor who became a staple at New York Yankees’ games when he sang “God Bless America,” can attest to this.

Tynan is now known as someone who allegedly made an anti-Semitic slur. His life has been forever changed.  All this despite years of wonderful public relations for singing at 9-11 funerals, performing for our troops, and his time with the famed Irish Tenors.  He had carte blanche in New York City.  One singular event changed that, which proves that (unfortunately) one bad move can and will cost you.

I couldn’t help but feel bad for Mr. Tynan. I have been a fan of his long before he became known as the person who sang at Yankees games.  His voice is powerful and he sings with such passion.  Granted, I had forgotten about this nearly year-old story, but there are many who haven’t.  The Yankees gave him the boot and he still receives mailed threats on his life.  Much of what was said is in dispute because there are accounts that Mr. Tynan’s words were taken out of context.

However, Mr. Tynan did do something smart by reaching out to the Anti-Defamation League to be part of its initiatives. It showed that he cared about not being perceived as someone who was racist.  Despite his actions after the incident and a prominent Rabbi saying the case was closed in his book, the damage was done.

You can have all the good public relations in the world built up in your arsenal and, sometimes, it just doesn’t matter. In the court of public opinion, people’s minds were made up.  Mr. Tynan is leaving New York for Boston now.  Maybe the move will help things quiet down for good.

This type of situation stresses, in PR, that it’s always good to have a crisis communications plan.  Make sure your company is prepared to handle any situation.  Think two steps ahead of where you are now. Realize that a crisis can happen when you least expect it.  If you are ready, you can roll out your plan.

What would you have done differently in Mr. Tynan’s situation? Could anything different have been done?  Share your thoughts!

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About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on March 9, 2010, in Media, Public Relations, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This situation strikes me a little differently than the famous athletes (and politicians) who have recently found a need to “confess/apologize” publicly once they have been caught. How are we to know if this gentleman was in the habit of using slurs consistently — but it seems like his upbringing dealing with teasing and ridicule must have given him some empathy, and this empathy went into his actions as he tried to rectify the situation. I can only imagine how many players/managers/administrators in the Yankee organization have had similar missteps and managed to either not be “caught” or to be “given another chance.” Forgiveness is often in short supply these days. It’s too bad for Mr. Tynan that the public seems to be heavier on accusation than forgiveness. But that gets back to your original point; although we ALL say things we should have self-censored first, when you are a public figure/organization, you are being perceived through an intense magnifying glass.

  2. Paula,

    Your last thought is the one that strikes me most. Public figures need to realize their words/actions mean more than yours or mine.

    Thinking before you act is something we can all remember.

    Thanks for your comments.. as always!
    Jason

  3. Yeah definitely in these day of everything we do being on line we need to be conscious of the impact our words and actions have on others and ultimately our repetation.

    I have a mini version of this at work sometimes when I’m presenting. If I make a little slip up with a group it can ruin the validity of my points for the rest of the session.

    But with any mistake in life; all you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, move on making sure you’ve learnt from your action and find a way to put things right.

    • Ben,
      In the PR world, I know I am always very conscious of what I say and present. I have to because I may be speaking for a client.

      You make a great point about validity. The last think any of us want to do is subtract from our expertise. We can pick ourselves up and make it right. Unfortunately, in Mr. Tynan’s case, he’s been judged harshly.

      Thanks as always!
      Jason

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