Turn the clock back to 2012 and Mo Farah was like the male equivalent of our regard for Jess Ennis.
As such, he became a poster-boy of Britain’s efforts in the Olympic Games – a darling of cleanly performed sporting endeavour.
Roll forward to 2015 and here we are watching him seek out his own PR agency just to help fight some of the fire surrounding the doping allegations.
For a sport lover less rehearsed in the best methodologies of crisis communications, it might seem somewhat extreme that Mo would pick up the phone to engage Freud’s, rather than calling on his own strong historic relationships with the media to tackle the matter himself.
Arguably, by the time Mo had reached the decision he did need to respond to the accusations with weightier and more clarified answers, appointing a specialist was very much the right call – rather than simply leave his communication at a facebook posting from his own account.
There’s a lesson in this, even for the most recognised and admired of household brand names too.
Sometimes, you need to take action and take advice, rather than rely on your own immediate network of media contacts.
More than that, sometimes there’s a real danger that the crew inside a rocky boat with you, can inadvertently help you sink if all perspective is lost!
You only have to look at stories like that of Thomas Cook’s crisis PR handling in recent months. Much of the speculation and criticism surrounded whether the firm had been too inward looking when it tried to battle its way out of the crisis – neglecting some of the common decency and appropriate communication factors we might have expected.
Whether you’re a celeb, household brand or an SME with a disgruntled customer, here’s just a few of the reasons why external input can be worth its weight in gold (medals):
Space and time
There’s no use fighting fires when you’re hot and bothered. No matter how much you know the press or feel you’re clear about the response tactic, bringing in someone else to assist in your subsequent strategy can give you valuable time to breathe and gather thoughts / facts.
When it’s happening to you, or your brand, you can often lose sight of how the crisis is being viewed through other eyes. An agency or consultant will play devil’s advocate, make you understand the way your messaging is being received, and encourage you to view all sides more clearly.
By this, I don’t mean that an external can ever 100% guarantee you’ll never face a crisis, but they can be the outside voice and vision to enable you to develop a more future-tolerant way of handling other matters in the future. They’ll also ensure you’ve thoroughly reviewed this particular crisis and made any changes necessary.
For further PR and marketing support, or info on crisis comms, email firstname.lastname@example.org
((Pic courtesy Stuart Miles))