New England Patriots press conferences. Sure, James has had his share of challenges in recent years, such as the illegal taping scandal -- Spy Gate. And we won't soon forget Randy Moss' meandering stream of consciousness press conference earlier this year which left everyone in the room, including James (I'm sure), scratching his head or worse.
But it when it comes to official team press conferences, either following a win or rare loss, Mr. James might as well be sitting in a Lazy Boy in the back of the room.
And why not? He's vice president of media relations for the company with the best media-trained executives in their industry. From the franchise owners (Robert and Jonathan Kraft), to the head coach (Bill Belichick), to the team captain and quarterback (Tom Brady) and on through every employee who is permitted to talk to the media -- the New England Patriots stay on message.
And what happens when an employee of the New England Patriots deviates from the company's key messages playbook or when an employee of most any company does so?
Well, it inhibits the company's ability to leverage the interview to achieve company goals. Remember BP's Tony "I'd like my life back" Hayward's handling of last summer's Gulf Coast tragedy? I think Hayward is now based somewhere on the Russian front. Or you can ask wide receiver/diva Randy Moss how beneficial to the New England Patriots his self-serving rant was, that is, if you can remember what franchise is employing him these days.
Before going into a media interview, a spokesperson must have specific goals for that interview. Once the interview goals have been defined, they can be converted to key messages. Like many smart organizations, the New England Patriots have a playbook of perpetual key messages and also develop each week a list of time sensitive, relevant key messages. By limiting the number of points its spokespeople are asked to get across, the Patriots have more control of what ultimately appears in print or what is heard on the radio and seen on TV.
An example of a "perpetual" Patriots key message came on Sunday evening following the Patriots win over the Chicago Bears. While at the podium during the post-game press conference, Belichick was informed that Patriots arch rival New York Jets had just lost to the Miami Dolphins. "Oh, we can't worry about that," Belichick said. "We can't be scoreboard watching and worrying about every team in the league. We worry about ourselves and just try to play well. Whatever else happens, happens."
The message: the Patriots organization is the master of its destiny. The Pats alone can control what they do on the field and they do so by being hyper-prepared.
An example of a time-sensitive message came from quarterback/captain Tom Brady yesterday during his weekly locker room press conference, talking about this weekend's match up. "Yeah, we're in a good position, but we can be in a bad position really quickly ... Green Bay is a hell of a challenge for us. ... (They have a) great quarterback, great offensive scheme, great receivers, and a hell of a defense."
The message: Any team good enough to be playing in the NFL is comprised of quality athletes. Despite their leadership position, the Patriots never take any team for granted and respect every competitor no matter what their record may be. The Patriots take the high road, no matter who is doing the talking.
Listen to this week's conference calls with other team executives, such as the Patriots' director of player personnel or the defensive backs coach.
Like their head coach and quarterback, they too are trained to be on message and on target.