Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Another AFL player was caught sexting this week, and the media was uncharacteristically silent.
The story was out of the news cycle in less than 24 hours - the best possible outcome for the player, his club and the AFL in general. So what's their playbook?
The story died because it was choked of oxygen. Media agreed not to name the player or publish the pictures, so there was no where for the story to go.
That's not a bad thing, but it's not the way these stories usually play out, and I'm wondering how they pulled it off and if the strategy is repeatable.
It certainly wasn't the case for AFL players Dane Swan or Travis Cloke, their pics were even run in Woman’s Day.
Former NRL bad boy Todd Carney’s ‘bubbler’ antics were widely published, and Rabbitoh George Burgess’s explicit tweets dominated international media.
As well as suppressing the identity of the player, the AFL has vowed to have every reference to the story removed from the Internet.
That's a pretty big claim, and the right search terms will give you not just the full story but the pictures as well. And there are enough clues in the News and Fairfax media for the average punter to work it out.
Just how did the AFL pull off this media gag, and can you do the same thing if you have to deal with a similar indiscretion?
Probably not is the simple answer.
Based on our interview with AFL Media Relations Manager Patrick Keane it's not down to the 'media smarts' of the AFL.
When asked about his media strategy Mr Keane not only refused to comment, he was aggressive and argumentative. Never a good approach to take with media, especially when you're asking them for a favour.
And with breathtaking hypocrisy Keane just glossed over the fact that the player is in breach of their own social media policy, telling media "We will take no further action against him as we consider it a private matter".
Pretty damning proof that this policy, and potentially others, exist so it looks like the AFL are doing the right thing rather than a genuine attempt to clean up the sport.
So my guess is it relies on the good will of the journalists and the potential threat of legal action due to the catfishing aspects of the case.
Of course it could be the media’s strong moral compass and burning quest for equity. Or maybe they were too busy feeding their unicorns that day to do their jobs.
If you can’t swing a media gag, Clarity's analysis of coverage from other sexting scandals reveals some dos and don'ts if you need to manage one of your own.
Don’t use Anthony Weiner's 'My twitter feed was hacked’ defence. The truth will come out in the end, and you’ll only fuel the speculation making the deed, and ultimate confession, even more widely reported.
When you apologise, have your wife or girlfriend support you publicly. And make sure you refer to the ‘dark place’ you were in at the time.
Resign immediately. Unless you’re a sports star there’s no coming back from this and the sooner you do it the sooner everyone will move on.