POCATELLO – If you’re in a crisis, it is best to tell the media your problem before journalists find out. That’s what Prof. Karen Hartman and her co-author, Travis Bell (University of South Florida), found in their research published in the latest volume of the International Journal of Sport Communication.
Their research analyzes tennis player Maria Sharapova’s 2016 drug suspension and her decision to call a press conference to announce her failed drug test rather than let the media break the story. Breaking one’s own news, referred to as “stealing thunder,” leads to fewer days of coverage and more favorable news stories.
The authors argue that the stealing thunder strategy worked effectively for Sharapova and that it is a strategy more athletes – or any person or organization in crisis – should use.
“While most athletes say no comment or deny a crisis, our research shows that disclosing a crisis proactively makes people view it much more positively,” Hartman said.
The article, “Stealing Thunder Through Social Media: The Framing of Maria Sharapova’s Drug Suspension” is part of the journal’s special edition on social media in sport. For more information, visit https://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/pdf/10.1123/ijsc.2018-0079