Sports PR specialist says clubs must take more responsibility for player behaviour

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March 7, 2016

Media Release

Sports PR specialist says clubs must take more responsibility for player behaviour

A former sports journalist turned public relations specialist says sporting clubs should look at themselves rather than solely blame the players for off-field indiscretions like the recent behaviour of rugby league player Mitchell Pearce and members of the Queensland emerging Origin squad.

Ben Dobson, manager of Mercer PR sports division which specialises in reputation management, media training and crisis PR for sporting organisations, said if smartphones and social media were around when some of our most respected sporting legends were playing, they may not be revered like they are today!

“I started in journalism in the 1980s and the behaviour and antics were no different. The only difference was the lack of scrutiny,” he said.

“In fact I’d go as far as saying that some of the people we look up to today would never have made it in the age of social and digital media, so I think we can be a little too judgmental and self-righteous sometimes when we talk about today’s sportspeople.”

Dobson said that many of the harshest critics are being disingenuous because they probably did the same things when they were younger, but the times were different.

He said while sportspeople clearly must take personal responsibility for their actions, it was the clubs that needed to better understand the new media age and change their training procedures accordingly.

“It’s quite clear that despite what they say publicly, some clubs simply don’t understand the dangers of the 24/7 digital and social media age, where anything can be recorded and shared and where even the smallest issue can be magnified.

“It’s time for clubs to get serious about the ramifications to their reputation and organisation and change the entire way they approach media training and the management of their players.”

He said it starts with a complete reprogramming of their players thinking, so that a zero tolerance attitude was accepted in return for the huge salaries players receive.

“Until there is a crackdown of great magnitude, we will see these issues continue, and the reputation of rugby league in particular will continue to be damaged.”


Sports PR specialist says clubs must take more responsibility for player behaviour

Smartphone video increasing risk to business reputation, warns PR strategist

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February 25, 2016

Media Release

Smartphone video increasing risk to business reputation, warns PR strategist

The reputational risk to companies has dramatically increased due to the use of smartphones to secretly record video and audio, according to a public relations and reputation management specialist.

Lyall Mercer, Managing Director of corporate PR firm Mercer PR, pointed to the recent media stories around rugby league player Mitchell Pearce and advertising agency M&C Saatchi, who both had to make public apologies due to the airing of video taken at private events.

Mr Mercer said while the Pearce incident concerned an individual, it had an effect on the entire club and a situation like this could just as easily be recorded at a corporate function.

“Everyone now has the potential to take damning video or audio, and there is widespread knowledge that the media has an appetite to publish it.

“We live in a new media age where sharing everything and anything has become not only normal but is encouraged.

He said companies now had to be on guard at every event, function, and meeting, and during general interaction with staff and customers.

“If a customer complains you must now assume they are recording the conversation, and if the boss gives a speech he or she must do so knowing it could be on Facebook the next morning.”

Mr Mercer said companies should be aware of the dangers and take steps to reduce the risk of the negative exposure this can bring.

“Small and large businesses must have a good customer complaint procedure and vet every speech and public statement before it is delivered.”

He also recommended a social media policy for staff and suggested that companies may be able to ban employees or guests from recording anything on their premises.

Alistair Macpherson, Director of Corney & Lind Lawyers confirmed that he believes a written policy banning unauthorised recording at a workplace is likely to be “a reasonable and lawful direction.”

“The employer is the occupier of the premises, and in my view has the authority to control any videoing on the premises whether by an employee or any other person entering the premises,” he said.


Smartphone video increasing risk to business reputation, warns PR strategist