Sports Communication Australia Case Study: Aussie Stingers' Whooping Cough Crisis Management

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Sports Communication Australia were called into action by existing client, Water Polo Australia, after several members of the Aussie Stingers women’s water polo team were diagnosed with whooping cough whilst in a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for the 2012 London Olympic Games. This case study outlines the crisis management procedures we followed to ensure our client's goals were met. The who, what, how and why is all here to show how Sports Communication Australia can handle your media crisis situation.

Transcript of Sports Communication Australia Case Study: Aussie Stingers' Whooping Cough Crisis Management

  • CASE STUDY AUSSIE STINGERS WHOOPING COUGH CRISIS
  • WHO: Water Polo Australia WHAT: Crisis Management for the Aussie Stingers Australias womens water polo team WHEN: June 2012
  • WHO HIRED US? We were called into action by existing client, Water Polo Australia, after several members of the Aussie Stingers womens water polo team were diagnosed with whooping cough whilst in a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
  • WHO HIRED US? At the time the AIS had several athletes from other sports in-residence as they prepared for the Olympic games, whilst Swimming Australia was due to hold a training and racing camp that week, an event they later cancelled as a precaution to their athletes being exposed to the whooping cough outbreak.
  • The Australian Institute of Sport Canberra
  • WHAT WAS THE BRIEF? Water Polo Australia and the Aussie Stingers wanted to minimise the distractions to the team from the media and subsequently the Australian public, as they entered the last phase of their preparations in Australia before the Olympic Games.
  • WHAT WAS THE BRIEF? There was a need to ensure that the sport of water polo and the AIS were recognised as having taken every possible step to manage the health of the athletes within the water polo team and of others attending the AIS at the time. We also needed to liaise with several stakeholders in different sports and levels of the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission to make sure positive long-term relationships were maintained.
  • HOW WE DID IT? We used the first few rules of Crisis Management and took a few deep breaths to compose ourselves and those around us before gathering all of the facts. Sports Comm Managing Director and Water Polo Australia Media Manager Dave Lyall, who was in Perth attending meetings with Water Polo Australia CEO Chris Harrison, then re-prioritised his schedule to focus on the immediacy and seriousness of the issue.
  • HOW WE DID IT? We made plans to address the media interest in the story as soon as was reasonable, in a manner that would service the hungry media pack who were chasing the story, whilst limiting the time and emotional energy required by team members. We worked with the teams coach and management, the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission to set up a door stop press conference and information distribution plan, while at the same time liaising with the media on the situation.
  • Media Alert and subsequent web story outlining the door stop press conference. More: http://bit.ly/1aoBLQZ
  • HOW WE DID IT? It was important that Water Polo Australia was represented in the door stop by a team member and that the player was supported by both AIS executives and medical professionals so that the player was not left to answer questions in areas that she wasnt trained or qualified. We chose captain Kate Gynther because of her calm demeanour and training in crisis situations as a member of the police force in Queensland. We briefed Kate on the facts as they were known, the media in attendance and the possible lines of questioning and outcomes of such inquiries.
  • HOW WE DID IT? Throughout the process we used other members of the Sports Comm team to keep media, stakeholders and members of the public up to date with the situation via the Water Polo Australia website and social media channels. Kate Gynther at the AIS in Canberra
  • THE RESULT Collectively, with the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission, and within a few hours of the original story breaking, we were able to deliver for media outlets three spokespeople that could relay the factual information they required from a team, organisation and medical standpoint.
  • THE RESULT This effectively limited the storys time in the media cycle and placated the media who were bristling at rumours that Australias Olympic campaign was in jeopardy. The Aussie Stingers and others at the AIS were then able to continue their Olympic preparations with a minimum of media distraction and fuss.
  • THE RESULT Dave and the team at Sports Communication Australia were able to jump on a potentially damaging situation quickly and manage it effectively. It is not easy to keep the media happy, whilst also looking after the stakeholders involved in a situation like this but they handled it with professionalism and apparent ease. Chris Harrison, CEO, Water Polo Australia
  • For more information about this Case Study or to contact Sports Communication Australia, email [email protected] or call +61 403 777 026.