Friday, June 19, 2009

TOUCHDOWN: HURRY-UP OFFENCE SERVES CFL WELL

Our Take Command issues/crisis management unit’s stock in trade is helping clients deal with an issue as soon as it arises. Two articles came out this week that David Braley, owner of the BC Lions, was in some way financially tied to the Toronto Argonauts. Early suggestions were that Braley had provided financial assistance to Argonaut owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon when they purchased the ailing franchise several years ago, and that the Canadian Football League didn’t know a thing about it. Very quickly, rumours spread about just what the assistance had been. Along the way, comments on everything from conflict of interest to league ineptitude began to swirl. That the league supposedly knew nothing of this could have led to considerable embarrassment, but this is where the CFL stepped in and scored a communications Touchdown. Within hours of the initial articles, the CFL distributed a public statement of its own accompanied by statements from both David Braley and the owners of the Toronto Argonauts. While the statements did not necessarily answer all of the questions, they did put to rest some of the rumours and ‘what if’ scenarios pertaining to the financial relationship and the league's role in all of this. The messages the CFL delivered were succinct and well structured to the issue. They addressed the situation, acknowledged what they knew and what they had learned, corrected misinformation and most importantly, articulated how they could learn from this issue and move ahead with greater transparency. As I mentioned, not all of the questions were answered right away, however, by getting this information out early they put themselves in a position to control their own messages. Subsequently, the various parties were able to explain the issue with out having to address or defend themselves against rumours. This is certainly a case where ‘no comment’ would have lead to no good.

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