I do, however, have a walking-around knowledge of dealing in the external environment and of the role of the media in that environment and it is obvious to me that the administration of MPC, including its headmaster David Tilley, the principal Eric Bradley and athletic director Mitch Jordan doesn’t have a clue.
You already know the story. The school has relieved baseball Coach Harvey Cochran of his duties. Word reached John Bednarowski, sports editor of the MDJ from a number of sources that the coach was not “religious enough” for the school’s taste.
Mount Paran Christian claims it wants to go in a “new direction” which seems a little weird when your coach compiled a 26-2 record this year. Admittedly, I can’t hit a curveball but I know enough about the game to know that about the only direction you can go after a season like that is either very slightly up or way, way down.
There has to be more to the story than that bizarre statement and that is what Bednarowski has been trying to find out. That is his job. Why would a school not rehire a very successful coach? And to his credit, he has called Tilley, Bradley and Jordan more than a dozen times and has sent them a number of emails asking for their side of the story. That is responsible journalism. No one has responded. That’s bad public relations. I assume the trio thinks if they stonewall long enough and continue to ignore the press, the controversy will simply disappear.
Of course, if all else fails, one can always blame the media for “sensationalizing.” (The newspaper has already been accused by one letter writer of turning into the National Enquirer. You knew it had to happen.)
The controversy has unleashed the bloggers who rant on both sides of the issue in anonymity. I know anonymous blogs are the latest thing these days in the media, but I hate them. If I am ever captured by al Qaida, I don’t fear death. I fear they will make me look at pictures of Barbra Streisand naked or read anonymous blogs. Both would be a fate worth than death.
The Mount Paran Christian baseball issue would have been a one-day story and I might be writing about the joys of banana pudding except for the MPC hierarchy deciding to evade the media.
By doing so, they have raised questions about the integrity of Harvey Cochran, put the new coach, Kyle Reese, in an uncomfortable situation and made a lot of people on both sides of the issue angry.
Nice going, guys.
Having spent most of my life as an external counselor, I was taught that organizations need to communicate clearly with the various publics they serve.
After 15 years on the other side of the fence as a member of the media, I am stupefied at how inept some groups can be in dealing with those publics. The Cobb EMC, the Cumberland Community Improvement District and the Ebenezer Scrooge guy who gets his jollies booting cars in downtown Marietta come immediately to mind. Now, add to that the Mount Paran Christian School.
The problem is that organizations and individuals like these develop a bunker mentality. They either ignore what the public’s reaction might be to their decisions or fail to communicate the issue adequately or resort to killing the messenger (the media.) They forget that if the public doesn’t understand or accept your arguments, you have lost. You may not lose right now, but sooner or later you will find yourself being judged by your past actions when you may need the public’s support. Why is that so hard for supposedly intelligent people to understand?
An aside: Our friends in the Legislature are going to lose the fight against limiting lobbyist expenditures. The public has already decided the answer to that one and no amount of high-minded rhetoric will convince them otherwise. The politicians might as well get ready to change the law. This one is a goner.
It is also too late for Mount Paran Christian to come out of this issue looking like a winner.
To be kind, their handling of the dismissal of the baseball coach has been clumsy and hasn’t exactly burnished their avowal to “walk in truth.”
They may have had good reasons to do what they did but they didn’t do it very well.
Stiffing the media is never a good idea. In baseball parlance, the school booted their coaching change.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.