If you have watched any television over the last few years, there’s no doubt that you have been exposed to the “what happens here, stays here” ad campaign for Las Vegas. Some people would be well served if they applied the same theory to their internet browsing habits. Among that group would be UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey.
On January 15 Rousey tweeted the following:
That was her first mistake. What followed were additional gaffes that showed—to borrow another advertising slogan—“Just do it” is not always the best policy. Sometimes it’s best to keep what you find interesting to yourself, especially if you are a public figure who will have every step you take scrutinized.
Rousey found out pretty quickly that sometimes what is “interesting” to one person is a lot less interesting to another and she deleted the post a few hours after the initial tweet. It was too little, too late, as the ball was already rolling on what was a pretty large public relations faux pas.
Sharing these type of conspiracy theories is usually pretty harmless, but when a public figure does so—even with a disclaimer attached—these things tend to take on a life of their own and once that happens it’s all damage control from that point out.
Team Rousey did a terrible job of controlling the damage in this situation.
The first mistake was Rousey’s manager speaking to MMAJunkie.com and speculating on Rousey’s intent in tweeting the video. You would think a manager would speak to their client before offering a statement on their behalf, especially when that something had caused backlash against that client. Speaking to Rousey and getting her take may have helped clear things up a bit, but that didn't happen.
What followed that speculation was a stunning bit of mismanagement. When Rousey’s manager Darin Harvey said the following:
I don't think that she did anything so horrible. I think what she was doing is retweeting something that gave a different perspective as to what transpired on that day. I don't think anything in that video denied that it happened.
I don't know if it's the truth or not. I'm not an investigator, but it seemed to me that if that Bushmaster (rifle) really was sitting in the trunk of a car, and the guy killed himself inside the school, how would the gun end up in the trunk of a car? Maybe it's just bulls--- facts. I didn't investigate it. I think Ronda thought it was interesting and retweeted it, and that was the extent of it. I don't think she was saying the mainstream press was wrong. It was just a different perspective.
Harvey started off by planting his shovel and then proceeded to dig a deeper hole with each sentence he uttered.
A simple apology would have been the way to go here. Harvey should have acknowledged that the tweet was in bad taste, apologized for any harm and moved on. Instead Harvey came across as the same kind of wingnut his client was portrayed as when she tweeted the video in the first place. His statement read as if he and Rousey were both fitted for tinfoil hats at the same time. No comment would have actually been better than the explanation that was offered.
Other fighters and managers would be well served to look at this entire debacle as the perfect example on how not to handle a public relations slip up.