Later today Lord Coe appears before British MPs who will question him about the athletics’ doping scandals. It is possibly his last chance to restore his reputation.
I urge everyone to read Matthew Syed’s superb article in today’s issue of the The Times.
He traces how he built his professional reputation when he took the reins of the London 2012 Olympic bid; explains what scintillating company he is; and argues that his political machinations were forgiven because he was trusted as much as he was admired and was “motivated by the right things.”
Yet, as Syed documents, he has in the space of a few short months lost s reputation once described as bulletproof and has appeared less than short-footed. As Syed says, “he is sleepwalking towards calamity.”
Syed’s analaysis is correct. But I would go one stage further. For me it is the public relations strategy orginally designed to protect him and his campaign that has directly lead to the collapse of his repuation.
Coe made a terrible decision in August when he decided or was persuaded (we will never know) to adopt an aggressive stance and attack the Sunday Times and ARD for suggesting that athletics was riddled with drug taking.
It was a key element of a public relations driven strategy which I have tracked since August in my blogs https://deceivingus.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/nike-episode-humiliates-coe/
This sort of approach – that aggressive assertive public relations is the best way to deal with the media – used to work well, particularly in a crisis.
But the fact that it has failed so disastrously – and has indeed done profound damage to the man it is meant to protect – shows how out of date it is today.
Hopefully, Lord Coe will return to the approach that made him so trusted and respected – and jettison anyone who designed the third rate PR campaign that has brought him so low.
As Syed concludes: “Athletics and perhaps sport itself needs a Damascene moment. It is not just Coe’s fragile reputation nut the credibility of the sport that is on the line.”
Let us hope that Lord Coe listens to Syed.