Gallen's C-tweet baits NRL's C-suite

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.

Australia's 2013 PR Disasters Announced

The Essendon footy club has grabbed the flag at the annual list of PR blunders and gaffes awarded here at PRdisasters.com. After analyzing media monitoring data on sustained and damaging mentions across press, radio, TV and internet sources, the Bombers “performance supplements” saga was easily the year’s most-talked about, and reviled, PR disaster. And in a year where the Cronulla Sharks rugby club plus the sport of swimming were also stained by the stench of scandal, the broader topic of ‘drugs in sport’ created much negative commentary and bad PR.
The Australian PR Disaster Awards – now in their 8th year – highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR blunders. They assess PR problems in both traditional and online media, including social media spaces. To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must result in sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story. Here are Australia’s Top 10 PR Disasters of 2013 (biggest disaster first):
1. Essendon supplements scandal – under the direction of controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, the Bombers were found to have been operating an experimental – possibly illegal – performance supplements programme.
2. Drugs in sport – A year long Australian Crime Commission investigation found widespread drug use in Australian professional sport, with criminal networks being actively involved. At publication, one former ASADA expert dubbed it the “blackest day in Australian sport”.
3. Indonesian relations – Australia’s ‘SBY’ presidential phone-tapping scandal escalated with Tony Abbott’s reticence to apologise and Indonesia reactively downgrading the relationship between the two countries and withdrawing co-operation on people smuggling operations.
4. Waterhouse/Singleton spat – Businessman John Singleton sacked trainer Gai Waterhouse following a clash on live television. After “Singo” claimed skullduggery over the fitness of his beloved horse ‘More Joyous’, a Racing NSW inquiry fined Singleton and saw trainer Gai Waterhouse charged on two counts relating to reporting and record-keeping.
5. Media regulation reform – Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was assailed by many sections of the media over his proposed News Media reforms. Many outlets railed at the mooted, binding, self-regulation scheme that also sought to remove a news organisation’s exemption from some provisions of the Privacy Act.
6. Mining tax repeal – The Abbott government started to repeal Labor’s controversial Minerals Resource Rent Tax from July 2014; by pitching how it would impact on families and small business, major – and conflicting – media coverage for this new policy was secured.
7. Craig Thomson – The saga of allegedly using Health Service Union credit cards to pay for porn and prostitutes rumbled on, revealing avaricious appetites for raunchy films, sexual services, ciggies and cross-country flights and expenses.
8. Collingwood Football Club (re Adam Goodes) –When a young Collingwood fan sledged Adam Goodes with an ape slur, the media meltdown was compounded when Collingwood President Eddie Maguire jokingly alluded to Goodes’ ability to publicise the in-town musical King Kong.
9. Royal Commission into child sexual abuse – As the 2012-established commission researched, interviewed, questioned and challenged institutional representatives from education, religion, sports and state interests, claims of abuser protection and failure to stop the abuse provided media flak for churches and their office bearers.
10. Politician expenses – Not long into office, Tony Abbott encountered his first scandal over his and other politicians’ misuse of entitlements. With four cabinet members – plus the PM – having to repay money for faulty expense claims, the furore also targeted Labor pollies similarly loose with their expense accuracy.

Misleading tweet-vertising from Essendon Bombers

It’s easy to shoot off an unsubstantiated 140-character tweet. But with substantial allegations, findings, charges and penalties awaiting the Essendon AFL team, a hollow tweet looks a lot like false advertising. Geelong seem to be the indisputably greatest AFL club ever anyway, right?
Bomber-tweet (below) has surely been designed only to desperately boost the morale of the most blindly loyal club afficionados? They can’t protect its name now; just like Lance Armstrong or Scotland’s The Rangers, their name is now digital mud – and, like online reputation – it tends to stick on for a long time.

Collingwood kingpin McGuire in the King Kong of all PR disasters

Following a weekend of racial controversy in Australia when a teenage Collingwood fan racially abused Swans AFL aboriginal star Adam Goodes (calling him an ape), the club’s President has inexplicably exacerbated the issue by jokingly suggesting on his morning radio show that the same player (Goodes) be used as part of a promotional PR push for the theatre show King Kong (which for those not in the know, stars a very large ape).
While the sometimes media savvy Mr Maguire has attempted to excuse his behaviour by suggesting that he was “zoned out”…”thinking somewhere else” and the hoary old “slip of the tongue”, the PR disaster backlash continues. Despite protesting that he is not a racist, McGuire’s incidental PR rehabilitation might be better served not just by protesting innocence, but by acknowledging that his comments may point to some unsavoury, sub-conscious attitudes that he’s prepared to work at addressing and eradicating. I’d venture that casual racism is not less hurtful to the recipient than the intended variety.

Tom Waterhouse and mum Gai to face their Waterloo?

That it could shock anyone that there could be skullduggery at the stables where the “sport” of horse-racing is built on the proceeds of gambling, still quite baffles me. As the public spat between horse owner Singo, horse trainer Gai and horsetrader Tom turns into a public relations disaster for the family and racing industry, today’s stewards enquiry is unlikely to address the core issue driving the furore. Good article from Tim Elliot explains the background. Hat tip to Foxsports for the montage image.

If your CEO is the actual PR disaster

What does a business do when a PR blunderbuss like Charles Green is its media spokesperson?
As a keen football follower and PR analyst, I’m compelled to rubberneck the PR debacle that is The (newco/sevco) Rangers back in Scotland. The apparent leadership blunderings have caused me to research the role of the CEO in preventing/managing PR disasters. I found this paper from the Institute For PR:
Ken Makovsky, writing in Forbes Magazine notes…”if the CEO is getting mostly negative publicity, it is very hard to get positive coverage on the organization as a whole. “The opposite is also true,” notes Nicole Lee, a master’s student at San Diego State University, “If an organization is regularly bashed in the media, its CEO would likely struggle to maintain a positive reputation.”
In addition to the academic view, reputation practitioners would counsel that the CEO must always be the custodian of reputation, not the imperiller of it.

History repeats in Nike's 'Black and Tan' PR disaster

It’s brand-checking 101; Google a name to see if there’s any unfortunate or unsavoury associations. But Googling names seems to have been beyond Nike’s Advertising or PR teams; now in PR trouble (as Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream had similarly done only 4 years back) for naming a sports shoe, the Black and Tan! For those who don’t know Britain’s stained history of interference in Ireland, an expert book on the Black and Tans says:
“They could arrest and imprison anyone at any time. They murdered civilians. They wore a strange mixture of dark green tunics, khaki rousers, black belts and odd headgear, including civilian felt hats…Although they were only a small proportion of British forces in Ireland, they were the toughest, the wildest and the most feared. They knew nothing and they cared nothing about Ireland. They were sent there in March 1920 by Lloyd George’s coalition cabinet to make Ireland ‘a hell for rebels to live in’.”