By Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Canterbury Bulldogs player Adam Elliott’s toilet tryst in a Gold Coast restaurant highlights a golden rule of crisis management: when you’re caught doing the wrong thing, show your remorse and take your punishment on the chin or the story will drag on an on.
In case you missed it, Adam Elliott, who has form for drunken shenanigans, was dragged half naked from a toilet cubicle in the men’s room of the White Rhino and ejected onto Cavill Avenue.
The Bulldog’s response was a stark contrast to the Dragon’s clever media management when their bad boy, Jack de Belin, was caught at an illegal BBQ earlier in the season. Spoiler alert: the Bulldogs got it wrong.
While Mr Elliot and the lady in question (Ms Millie Boyle) are old friends, sexual behaviour in a public bathroom is generally frowned upon. More importantly it’s a flagrant breach of the biosecurity protocols which is a burning issue for locked-down Australia and potentially threatens the questionable concessions made to sporting events when so many of us are doing it tough.
Rather than leave the damage control to the Club’s media team, Ms Boyle attempted to set the record straight by dismissing it as “a big kerfuffle about nothing”, which provided an excellent media hook for the second day of the crisis.
When the Club announced a $10,000 fine, instead of taking it on the chin and apologising, Elliott’s Manager, David Riolo, tried to spin it as unfair and hinted at something more nefarious at play: “I just hope this hasn’t been beaten up and some sort of attempt to have a player dismissed so it helps create some cap space for the club”.
That gives the story plenty of legs for the media to chase.
Compare this to the way the Jack de Belin crisis was handled by both Mr de Belin’s Club and the NRL which made the story die out very quickly. The club appeared to lock down the players and gossips and left it to Illawarra CEO Ryan Web to close the story down once and for all with a really powerful quote:
“The 13 players’ arrogance and ignorance to both the NRL biosecurity protocols and the state government’s public health order is upsetting and infuriating”.
While a toilet tryst is arguably more titillating than hiding under a bed during a police raid on an illegal BBQ, having one spokesperson deliver the right messages is the best way to get your crisis out of the media spotlight.
Want to ensure your team is crisis ready? We can help with online training and simulations – drop me a line here. You might also like to read:
Jack de Belin and the Health Secretary’s kiss
Dreamworld brand hangs by a thread
Lessons from the AFL’s Dick Pic crisis