How six of the best scored a PR ‘own goal’ – PR lessons

PR lessons - Allott and Associates

The launch of a breakaway European football Super League was an ‘an unmitigated PR disaster’. Collapsing under a fierce fan backlash just 48 hours later.

Apparently three years in the making, the news broke to football fans on a Sunday afternoon in April. But the timing of the formal announcement – around midnight and in the middle of a pandemic – left a narrative dominated by fury and opposition to the idea.

The brands of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham have been tarnished by the fall-out. But are they irreparably damaged? Probably not! Apologies from the club’s owners following their quick exit from the proposed competition helped with a degree of damage limitation. So, when the dust settles and fans get back into stadiums to cheer on their favourites all will likely be forgotten. Until the next attempt to create a European elite!

Football’s European Super League turned out to be fantasy football for now. But it’s not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, organisation to fall flat due to misreading its target audience. So, how do you avoid a PR own goal, get supporters on side, or rescue a point, when the opposition’s already built up a head of steam?


PR lessons learned 

Do your homework and learn about your customer. Pitch your position to all stakeholders so they’re chanting from the same song sheet. Prepare your team. PR and marketing is diminished if not all a company’s supporters, managers and salespeople are right behind the agreed strategy. Effective communications are vital to drive the narrative.

No one likes to be associated with bad news. Creating positive public relations for a business is akin to preparing a football club to challenge for top honours. Great management and tactics, a squad pulling together, knowing where the goal is and your strongest starting XI on top of their game. All of it supported by excellent ‘backroom staff’.

A football club knows that the manager needs the best backroom team possible to achieve success on the playing field. A good PR company can be the back-bone for a business by helping to coach your top talent so they are not side-lined or found wanting when the crunch comes. It will lay the groundwork to help turn a product into a match winner, while the company takes the glory.


Know your customers

But what should you do when things go wrong? In PR a badly managed issue can become a crisis very quickly, as reaction to the announcement covered by PR Week proved.

When it comes to PR lessons, knowing your customers and having a crisis media management plan in place if things go wrong are key tools to have in your armoury.

PR, like top-flight football, is results-driven. And, while an organised defence can save the day, its vital that the ‘goal getters’ are a crucial part of the marketing message. Why? To ensure great publicity, increase exposure, build credibility and everything else besides.


We specialise in delivering results for companies large and small all over the world. Don’t let your brand get the red card, contact us on + 44 (0) 1423 867 264 to find out how we can help, or visit our website for more help with your PR and marketing.