Are FIFA reforms too little too late?

fifa crisis public relations

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian and Everything-PR News contributor, Ronn Torossian, breaks down if the latest FIFA reforms are a little too late

Anyone can make a mistake, and, sometimes, you have to pay a PR price for bad judgment calls you didn’t even make. When the public doesn’t care if it’s your fault, or they don’t have enough information to take the blame, that is not the time to stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. When a scandal you already know about hits the press, you better have a solid PR plan in place to tell the right story as often and as loudly as you can. Because, if you fail to get your side of a situation out, you can bet someone else will be there to fill in the blanks.

That’s exactly the situation in which FIFA officials find themselves. There have been rumors and allegations of inappropriate and outright illegal behavior among international soccer’s ruling body for some time now. In recent weeks, those allegations became indictments.

Meanwhile, FIFA President Sepp Blatter is said to be talking with his inner circle about potential reforms. Talking about reforms is certainly not a blazing fast PR response when the opposition – in this case, multiple countries’ law enforcement agencies – are crashing your meetings and arresting people. To date, at least fourteen soccer and marketing executives have been indicted on charges in the United States. Charges that include racketeering, money laundering, and tax evasion. At least two of these make for HUGE BOLD TYPE headlines … and, thanks to Al Capone, the latter can capture attention as well.

The combination of aggressive media coverage and slow response will likely come back to bite FIFA. Sure, certain officials may escape legal trouble and others may be found entirely blameless, but not before they are stained with a PR red card by fans across the globe.

One thing Blatter has done well is offering specifics in his action plan. It might be slow, and it may be too late to erase much of the public relations damage, but at least he is giving the media something specific to write about. Blatter calls for term limits for future presidents and FIFA executive committee members as well as more women on that committee. Blatter also calls for fewer heads at that table, to more easily hold all members accountable.

While these sound like administrative edits rather than real change actions, if repeated often enough in the press, it will appear as if FIFA is doing “something” to address the issue. And that, rather than “FIFA doing nothing,” will become the topic of conversation.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals in the company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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