You call it just like it is Anthony Mundine; Pearce may need an addiction doctor, not a spin doctor.
It gets up my nose when PRs access the ‘lazy file’ when their clients do dumb stuff.
I mean, why do acclaimed professional communicators deliver hollow, default statements when required to craft and coach authentic and credible expressions of responsibility and regret in the event of celebrity PR disasters? What’s the purpose of these generic communications? Why do we get apology by cut ‘n’ paste?
We continually get a predictable grab-bag of cliches, half-truths and wholly unconvincing claims of accountability and remorse. Read this generic statement and you can pretty much substitute the name of the un-saintly football player with the name of any basketballer, cyclist, rugby or soccer player caught with his pants down, brain addled, veins full or fists balled.
In PR disasters, perhaps many PRs don’t craft connective, meaningful, believable and winning crisis management statements because they don’t have the emotional intelligence in themselves to be able to help the client process and express? It’s also true, though, that spin doctors are often hamstrung by the instructions given by lawyers advising the company, club or code.
Next time a sports star or celebrity makes “a mistake” (a patronising misnomer), PRs should try asking: A) what really went on for YOU that time? B) why did YOU the player make that choice ? C) what was ingesting the substance all about for YOU? D) didn’t YOU fear getting caught? and E) what feelings did YOU have at the time, and what do YOU feel right now ?
Then a PR might prefer to compose something like this:
“First off, this was not a mistake; this was about my decisions, actions and stupidity. It was also about me thinking I was too cool and too big to ever be caught. Honestly? I was partying hard and intoxicated. I thought my edgy “cool” lifestyle would make me look like a rockstar to my mates.
I don’t know why I feel the need to impress them when I should be impressing the code, the club and the fans who have genuinely trusted and respected me. I will think about that and get to the bottom of it most likely with a specialist counsellor.
Recording the incident was simply stupid. I’ve done courses and had advice to be careful with online media but I made a daft choice which lead to this trouble. Again, my mistake was in thinking I was too special, too cool to be caught. Right now, I am full of self-recrimination and shame for the hurt I’ve caused to everyone who cares about me. I will work on this and hopefully emerge a better, more mature and trustworthy person as a result.”
No-one expects footy players to be angels or Saints (geddit?). But with the myriad of PR disasters – and subsequent player education courses about using social media and drugs – you’d half-expect these young men to use at least half of the wits they have! (Note; not many female athletes do such dumb sh*t!).
Generic PR apology statements appear to say all the right things but they only tell us one thing for sure: THAT THE ATHLETE DID NOT ACTUALLY SAY THESE WORDS!
And that shows they’re reluctant to be truly responsible and remorseful as they look to recover from being rumbled.
Hat-tip ColorCube for image loan.
“ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with…”
This is the ABF media statement (below) which saw civil (kinda) rights protesters gridlock parts of Melbourne’s CBD today. As a stakeholder engagement piece it was stupendously successful – not only were parts of the statement provocative and “Orwellian” (h/t protester sound bite) but it also directed anti-AFB activists where to congregate to spoil the (media) party. It’s also the first time I’ve queried the wisdom/value of equipping media releases with ‘social share’ buttons (foot of page). This facility possibly enabled protesters to quickly share and amass their forces to disrupt the inter-agency “initiative”. As many PRs on the planet will be musing…there but for the grace of God go I…
Online, anyone can pretend to be anything they like. Social lives get ‘larged’ on social networks, suitors misrepresent on dating websites, resumes get burnished on Linkedin. Some even claim to have self-cured from cancer, blogged on the topic and profited hugely from a book and wellness App based on a BFL (big fat lie). So, is it just PR spin, web entrepreneurialism, shysterism or even a case of a psychological malaise – as is subtly questioned in this useful News Ltd piece...
I wonder if golfer Robert Allenby, or NRL players John Sutton and Luke Burgess can somewhat identify with this theory? I have analysed PR disasters from every angle and it has become all too apparent that:
drink and drugs play a significant part in adversely affecting behaviour; catalysing embarrassing or painful incidents; leading to shame-based denials and excuses; delivering high levels or scepticism and thereafter; scandal plus reduced levels of public trust and respect?
The one-time abuser or inveterate addict alike, will deny, lie or vilify anyone else, rather than come clean about how they have little or no control after imbibing poison that compels them to behave irrationally or inappropriately.
First up, I have empathy for those with depression or self-medication issues. But in terms of PR, media reports and reputation management, there’s often not much room for such understanding. That’s why Paul Gallen’s tweet – offensively deriding his defacto NRL employers/governors as female genitalia – is defined as a PR gaffe, any pre-existing issues or circumstances aside.
For a privileged sports role model (with some bad PR ‘form’ re performance supplement use in particular) to fail to accept accountability for the consequences of his wrongs (harder – yet more telling – than just issuing an easy, media mea culpa) puts the gall in ‘Gallen’. Paul may now claim his use of the C-word (below) is innocuous. (Ladies, mums, sisters, daughters; your views on that one?)
This PR disaster is only compounded when the NRL stipulates that this great athlete – yet PR putz – needs to complete a leadership course as part of his rehabilitation. A followership, humility and emotional awareness course might better address some of the issues fuelling Paul’s PR disaster, and fuelling the original drivers that led to it.
Still with empathy and chapeau to SydMornHerald for quip-grabs, G.