Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Media Relations Fail 101

There are a lot of things you wonder about the IOC and its umbrella entities, like why more of their members aren't behind bars, and when they're going to add Zumba as an Olympic sport because some Zumba lobbyist dropped a bag of cash on the right honcho's doorstep.

Mostly, though, you wonder at how utterly clueless all of them are about how media works.

They'd pretty much weathered the storm over the impending fiasco that is the Rio Olympics, particularly the part about how the sailing events are going to be held in what amounts to an open sewer. Everyone was properly appalled by that, and then they weren't, because, well, it's sailing. No one in America has cared about it since Dennis Conner left the premises.

And so no surprise that if you polled 100 people, 99.9 of them wouldn't know who Peter Sowrey is. Turns out he was the CEO of World Sailing, and it also turns out that he was as appalled as everyone else that the IOC was apparently adding dumpster diving to its list of Olympic sports. So he pushed to get the sailing venue moved to a resort a hundred or so kilometers away, rightly figuring that the spectacle of Olympic sailors steering around piles of floating garbage would not be a good look for international sailing.

 Had his bosses simply let him go on about that, none of us would have ever heard of Peter Sowrey, or of any of the above. Instead, they did the one thing that was guaranteed to bring down exactly the media scrutiny they feared.

They fired the guy. After first, according to Sowrey, telling him to "gag" himself.

Now this story is all over "Mike & Mike" -- Greenberg went on for 10 minutes about it this morning -- and #riowater is trending all over Twitter, and there are some real journalists out there prepared to ask some real questions. Which is exactly what Sowrey's bosses thought they were going to avoid by getting rid of him.

They never learn. They ... just ... never ... learn.

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