‘Slow down; don’t panic’

A hoped-for Field Of Dreams shows every sign of turning into a nightmare for our candy bar director of marketing.But Write Idea's first and best advice to this hapless executive is: 'Slow down. Don't panic. This apparent disaster can be turned...

A hoped-for Field Of Dreams shows every sign of turning into a nightmare for our candy bar director of marketing.

But Write Idea’s first and best advice to this hapless executive is: ‘Slow down. Don’t panic. This apparent disaster can be turned around into an opportunity for you and your company.’

The opportunity

As the facts of the barroom brawl become clearer, it is evident our ballplayer got a bad call from the referees in the press.

Rather than being in the middle of the melee, our ballplayer was, in fact, in the men’s room when the unfortunate fight broke out.

Moreover, his subsequent involvement was actually in the role of peacekeeper. (He is certain there are witnesses who will back him up on this important point.)

So we have the opportunity now for damage control that not only clears up the foul call, but that can also build up our ballplayer into the hero of this unseemly mess.

For a start, we will find key witnesses to clearly attest to his breaking up of the battle royal.

Because of the racial overtones involved, we will specifically seek out black as well as white youths to vouch for our guy.

Their confirmation of the real facts will portray our ballplayer as the most valuable player (mvp) of the fracas. Nothing can be more credible than eye-witness, third-party testimony.

Using the press

We immediately organize a press conference with our ballplayer front and centre.

A well-organized press conference will pitch out all the same information all at the same time. This will control speculative coverage.

Our ballplayer and his witnesses will face the press head on.

He will restate the events as they occurred, give his side of the story (not in a complaining or mistreated way), and he will also talk about his feelings about racial harmony and what it means to him to be a team player in a prestigious ball club.

He will also make a straightforward apology to his sponsor and to the youngsters for his unavoidably failed appearance at the mall event.

He will field questions from the press. We will have the text of his statements and the testimonials written up and handed out immediately after the press conference.

Good news has limited appeal and it is a safe bet the whole affair will blow over quickly.

Distancing the brand

We do not want to distance the brand. Our ballplayer is still relevant to our product’s image. If anything, he has drawn more attention to the product, and once the facts are cleared up, he will re-emerge as hero.

The sponsor will stand by the ballplayer (literally and figuratively) at the press conference and in the long run.

We will stress we intend to keep him as spokesman, that we believe in him, and that he stands for all our corporate values.

(Given the budget, we would have baseball caps made up with the company logo that could be worn at the press conference and given to the press as confirmation of our belief in the player and baseball as a game.)

The company will also be seen as loyal and not given to knee-jerk reactions. This will add to the company’s major league credibility and strength of character.

Long-term plan

We will continue our original plan. However, our next mall appearance will be announced to the press. We will seek their coverage.

This time, our ballplayer will be seen as exonerated and surrounded by happy fans. (A special edition baseball card might be considered for the event.)

We will capitalize upon the publicity already garnered and turn it to the advantage of the company’s product.

The director of marketing’s plan

We will assist him in showing his management how well he handled the crisis, and of the opportunities ahead. He, too, will be a hero.

Suzanne Fong is president of Write Ideas, a Vancouver-based public relations agency.