It’s hardly surprising that the rumour mill is at work today, trying to get to the bottom of what eventually caused Sepp Blatter to hand in his resignation.
After all, four days ago we saw a man so arrogantly adamant that he would not be moving from his seat of power.
Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon and he waves the white flag and says he’s off.
Whatever is at the bottom of that eventual decision, you can’t help reflecting on the weight of public reaction when Blatter was re-elected.
From the moment the announcement had been made that he was holding on to power, twitter and facebook (and no end of other online forums) went crazy with comments about what a disgrace it was that this man should still be at the helm.
And that tide of opinion only grew stronger and stronger in the subsequent days.
Everyone from Gary Lineker to current Premiership players to broadcasters and sports pundits were adding their comments to social media feeds and making it perfectly plain how they felt.
So was this commentary in any way responsible for the fact that Blatter has eventually had to wave goodbye and do the very thing so many people had wanted him to?
Does it mean that the FIFA storm has played out with such ferocity on social media that there was no way he could retain his post?
Well, it’s impossible to state your life on the fact that without social media Blatter might still have clung on.
That said, surely, there’s something in the fact that these days, with public opinions so easily shared – and so instantaneously – there’s no way on this earth that the affected sponsors and associated brands could not have been watching the commentary and fearing for their positioning all the time Blatter remained.
Pre the days of social media, the public disquiet, and even that within the player circuit of the sport itself, would have been being voiced in a thoroughly different and less blatant domain.
The FIFA scandal would have been being aired more among suits, and then broadcast outwardly by official media channels after engineered releases and managed PR.
That way, the tide of feeling would have been held back somewhat from what the brand custodians at the likes of Adidas and Visa could have been experiencing.
Not so with social media.
The existence of these platforms means that the comms specialists in those brands (and McDonalds, Coca Cola and many others) will have been digesting commentary aimed at them over the last few weeks, while watching the ‘playing out’ of consumer annoyance and disappointment.
Undoubtedly, it would have enhanced their desire to see action….which included the need for a change at the helm.
True, we can’t singularly point to social media alone for having caused Blatter to finally make the decision to resign, or for FIFA itself to implement changes or call for an appropriate ‘course of action’ by the man at the top.
What we can say, however, is that this story has clearly identified what a massive role social media and public broadcast of ‘everyday opinion’ in always-on channels has played.
Brands simply cannot ignore that this is the way of today’s communication when it comes to the sharing of thoughts and emotions around news issues.
Any PR or marketing expert who thinks they can ignore that medium while trying to be a responsible custodian of their business or brand is in for a very rude awakening!
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