A Look Back at LeBron James and the Decision -- Bad Communication on a National Stage


When making a choice, how you communicate your intentions is just as important as the actual decision itself. Four years ago, LeBron James learned this the hard way due to a poor PR communications decision, a live ESPN special aptly titled "The Decision."

The Decision ” involved LeBron leaving his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for the Miami Heat. LeBron joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the Big Three and made the Miami Heat the team to beat in the NBA. Basketball players switch teams all the time, so why did LeBron’s decision go bad? It all had to do with his PR communications explaining the decision. He messed up in five different ways with poor PR communications:
  1. He failed to communicate the decision with the Cavaliers’ manager before it was announced nationally. That’s like breaking up with your girlfriend on national TV.
  2. EPSN announced the decision on an over-hyped, over-produced show. LeBron looked uncomfortable the entire time.
  3. ESPN sold ads for the TV special with proceeds going to The Boys & Girls Club. Though the special raised over $2 million for charity, some fans perceived the LeBron/charity tie-in as incredibly self-serving in that he didn’t incorporate the kids!
  4. LeBron spent too much time talking about himself and everything he did for Cleveland.
  5. LeBron switched to third person and went on about how LeBron made LeBron’s decision.
Fortunately, LeBron learned from his mistake and his PR communications did a complete 180 when he announced his return to the Cavaliers in mid-July 2014. Instead of an over-hyped show and self-serving associations, LeBron wrote an announcement in which he says, “I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.” He talks about why he made the switch to Miami and why it was the right choice, but he also explains why he’s “coming home.”

Kudos to LeBron for learning from his mistake and switching gears to a more humble version of himself to conduct PR communications the second time around.

You can learn how to avoid failures in PR communications by contacting Hurley Write, Inc . We offer writing courses to help further your businesses communication prowess.

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