No Reason to Freak Out About the Firing of the Raiders’ PR Director

The NFL offseason is an interesting beast. The media and fans are so starved for stories during the month of June that some of them get blown way out of proportion. That was the case when Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis fired the PR director Zak Gilbert after one year on the job.

The media narrative goes something like this:

Davis fired a guy that was hired by Reggie McKenzie, which puts everyone in the organization on notice. Davis fired a guy that had brought the Raiders' media relations out of the dark ages and into the 21st century. Gilbert was a symbol of the new era of football in Oakland and his firing indicates a possible return to draconian media policies. Davis fired a guy solely because of an article in Sports Illustrated that painted his deceased father in a negative light. From the majority of the media’s perspective, there was no reason to fire Gilbert. Of course, my background working in public relations and the corporate world affords me a better perspective. There is no reason to freak out about the firing of Gilbert.

Of all people, I should be the one freaking out about the sudden change. I had developed a good professional relationship with Gilbert, attended training camp last year and was treated as an equal with the traditional print media. There is no guarantee the new PR director will be as accommodating.

To understand this firing, you need a little perspective of what happens behind the scenes. The PR director’s job description is to control the media’s perception of the organization. He must build a relationship with the media in order to spread an organizational message.

McKenzie hired Gilbert last year, even though the media relations department does not fall under football operations. Gilbert worked with McKenzie in Green Bay, so the two had a history. 

The blame for the team’s 2012 season was placed square...

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