Bruce, T., & Tini, T. (2008). Unique crisis response strategies in sports public relations: Rugby league and the case for diversion. Public Relations Review, 34(2), 108-115.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8335
Sport is a unique ‘product’ in that most of its messages and images are conveyed through media coverage rather than through advertising or sales campaigns. While the coverage is usually positive, media interest becomes more problematic in high profile scandals which can be very damaging. In this paper, we propose that the culture of elite men's sport and its interdependence with mass media creates a situation in which sports public relations personnel have access to crisis communication strategies not previously specified in the existing literature. Based on textual analysis of media coverage of an Australasian men's rugby league salary cap scandal, we argue that, in certain situations, a sports organisation may draw upon a crisis response strategy that we term diversion in order to successfully limit the damage to the organisation's reputation. In particular, we suggest that the often intense ‘relationship’ that fans have with players may allow team sports to focus attention on players (and fans) as innocent victims with the result that negative publicity for the sport overall is reduced.
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