2021 Communications Crisis Management

Crisis? What Crisis? 2021 Is Another Year Of Living Dangerously

By David Alexander | December 17, 2021

David Alexander, Founder and Managing Director of Calacus, looks back at a couple of this year’s key communications blunders and the cost of not considering your actions.

This year has proved to be another full of great sporting moments – from the Olympic and Paralympic Games to EURO 2020 and a host of other global and domestic events that excite and inspire in equal measure.

But so often we have seen sports organisations and individuals fail miserably when crisis strikes – whether that is self-inflicted or through no fault of their own.

“The focus on growing revenues or trying to protect reputations through deflection and distraction almost inevitably resulted in more harm than good.”

Whether it was the conglomerate of clubs colluding to propose the biggest shake-up in European football since the advent of the Champions League or an esteemed cricket club dismissing accusations of racism as nothing more than “banter,” the focus on growing revenues or trying to protect reputations through deflection and distraction almost inevitably resulted in more harm than good.

It’s remarkable in this era of 24/7 rolling news and social media, where everyone is a broadcaster, that organisations large and small still miss the basics of communication preparedness that can ultimately save their reputations, market cap and support from fans, partners or governance.

As the world evolves – and we have seen so much dramatic change over the past couple of years – organisations need to thoroughly review their plans and practices to address anything that may adversely affect them both now and in the future.

“The failure to have a detailed proposal and explanatory press release ready for distribution as soon as the story broke further allowed the naysayers to dominate the narrative.”

We saw it with the ill-fated ESL – when clubs had not spoken to their coaches or players before the story broke, let alone fans and commercial partners. 

Scenes of protest and uproar undermined club owners and led to initiatives that could well see their control weakened because they thought they knew better than anyone else that had an interest in their clubs, and they did not consult with those who have an integral role be that on the field of play or off it.

Add to that the failure to have a detailed proposal and explanatory press release ready for distribution as soon as the story broke further allowed the naysayers to dominate the narrative while simultaneously burning bridges with a breadth of stakeholders that will take some time to rebuild.

“Ask yourself whether your organisation considers the ramifications of your actions at all times?”

There have been so many stories beyond Yorkshire CCC and the ESL where a lack of empathy has caused significant problems.

Whether that is sponsors making fun of the lack of trophies for the Premier League team they had announced as a partner that very day; a coach being permitted to rage about match officials on YouTube for an hour without recourse; dismissing or ignoring claims of sexual impropriety be that as a club or a governing body; refusing to let women’s teams adapt their kit and demanding bikini-style outfits; or the text messages or social media posts that shame those who published them and result in “I was young and naïve” explanations as if that makes it all OK.

Ask yourself whether your organisation considers the ramifications of your actions at all times – and that you’re ready to answer the difficult questions if sometimes-confidential information gets into the public domain.

“How much good are you doing beyond your own commercial imperatives?”

How much good are you doing beyond your own commercial imperatives that can help you to build up authentic goodwill for when crisis strikes – and it always strikes?

Have you engaged and collaborated with stakeholders so that there are no nasty surprises that undermine credibility AND future activity?

There is so much at stake and reputation is the least of it…

For more information on crisis communications preparedness, get in touch with David at www.calacus.com

2021 Communications Crisis Management