PR ACADEMIC ESSAY
Australian Olympic Swim Team
Joseph Cosgrove – 00023060T – Word Count 1,502
PR ACADEMIC ESSAY
After reading this essay the reader should be able to distinguish the relevant public relations tactics used to manage the Australian Olympic Swim Team with their corporate image and reputation online via social media. The recent London Olympic games displayed a poor standard of how the Australian Swim Team performs when pushed under pressure. A key point here is an example of the relay team being caught the night before their event under the influence of the prescribed drug ‘Stilnox’, while ‘prank calling’ other members of the Olympic team. The media has sabotaged the Australian Swim Team image with reports such as ‘"There were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breeching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers. No such collective action was taken" (Lane & Spits, 2013). The aim here will then be to use public relation tactics to reverse the damage that has been illustrated by the various forms of media.
The current image of the Australian Olympic Swim Team internationally is negative and has been labeled by various media channels as ‘Toxic’. Australian swimming officials have vowed to "win back the admiration of a nation" following the release of a damning report that blamed a "toxic" team environment at London 2012 which led to the country's worst Olympic pool performance in 20 years (Morley, 2013). Reports described by swimmers of the games as the “Lonely Olympics” and the “Individual Olympics” (Global Post, 2013). A shocking performance by Swim Australia has left Australia with a bad name in relation to sport. Some athletes are still tainted by the whole situation and bullying allegations are still being seen in the media. The London Olympic golden girl and true star of the Australian swim team became the undeserving victim of the poison in the sport three months ago in a bullying incident at the hands of relay bad boy Matt Targett (Balym, 2013). With actions still being presented from the games through media, it is evident a change needs to be made in the way situations are handled by the Australian Olympic swim team.
Team management in response to the information portrayed in the media was extremely poor. Reputation damaging information continued to be leaked to the media all the way to the flight home. Its been speculated that even after the relay team incident, mobile phone’s on the team’s flight back to Sydney showed a swimmer handing a ‘Stilnox’ tablet to another team member” (Balym, 2013). Action should have been taken when the first problem arose. In relation to Swim Australia, issue management, of course, needs to occur before a crisis occurs. Where if staff had been trained for such situations the incidents that arose could have been stopped. Coach Leigh Nugent has been targeted by the media and admits, “He had been made aware of the disruptive antics in Manchester but said the identity of the culprits had not been revealed to him. He has said he now regrets not following it up” (Balym, 2013). If Leigh Nugent had taken action to such a situation, the ‘Stilnox’ situation would have never occurred. It is clear that the viable approach of keeping information secret was wrong and new strategies need to be developed for future games.
Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) register issue management as effective public relations. An important finding from the PRIA website is that, “maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders is more important than any individual crisis response strategy.” (There are various approaches that can be taken during a crisis, such as apologising, denial, blaming a scapegoat, justifying, creating an excuse and more) (Pearce, n.d.) Placing ‘spin’ on a case...
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