For the past few days the news has been inundated with sound bites from the defiant speech of an unpopular and arrogant monarch. The ‘king’ in question is none other than the unchallenged FIFA head Sepp Blatter. 

One would assume that after the bribes scandal broke, FIFA leaders would listen to their PR consultants and do some damage control. The reputation of the organization, already tarnished by allegations of fraud at different levels was in serious need of mending. 

Yet on Monday morning, after FIFA delegates had already embarked on personal smearing campaigns against one another, Blatter’s speech fuelled more bad press. His attitude and defiant words enraged football supporters worldwide. With more and more of the body’s members threatening to reveal corruption within the organization, Blatter appears to be deluded: ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ 

Blatter’s performance is ideal ‘what not to say in a press conference’ training material. Ignoring the fact that your organization has a problem, when it is visible from miles away, is clearly not the best PR strategy. 

As recent history has shown, see the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for instance, underestimating damage is a dangerous thing to do. Furthermore, ignoring the press or mistreating it will lead to retaliation. When in an already delicate situation, can you really afford to have the national media as an enemy?  

Perhaps Blatter hopes that if left untouched, the scandal will go away by itself. However, media scandals have a tendency of snowballing and eventually crushing organizations’ reputations.  

The lesson for engineering companies and SMEs PR campaigns is about one’s response to crisis; acting responsibly and communicating efficiently has to be the first priority.

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