Celtic Is A PR Mess. Where Have Our Professional Standards Gone?

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Good public relations (PR) is about creating and maintaining a good image or perception of any business or individual to help drive success.

It goes hand in hand with marketing and advertising, creating a robust “marketing mix” which if done correctly reaps untold benefits.

For the last few weeks, in fact, this season so far, Celtic’s has been an absolute clusterfuck. A mesmerising shit-show if you will. What is coming out of the club is often times surreal. I could list them as a painful reminder but I’ll spare you that.

We’re crying out for a more clinical, professional approach. Sponsors like Adidas must be wondering what the hell is going on. They’ve furnished Celtic with one almighty kit deal no doubt forged on Celtic’s unprecedented previous successes.

It’s failed to materialise.

Three different shirts plus training gear was bought enthusiastically by Celtic’s faithful following. Adidas must have been rubbing their hands but let’s see the uptake next time round should Celtic’s malaise continue. Fans buy on success and loyalty. The Ibrox PR department created a siege mentality. We used to laugh at their statement after statement but it’s worked.

Someone, somewhere at Adidas UK must have their head in their hands thinking, “What have we done?”.

The UK media are sitting up and taking notice at what’s going on at Celtic and they are gleefully reporting it all. This is the sort of thing that they thrive on, although I’d excluded the half-witted, cantankerous click-bait chief Adrian Durham from this.

He is the Katie Hopkins of radio. I’m sure he’ll be on the campaign trail for UKIP as soon as he gets the chance. I watched his clip asking whether Celtic should be demoted for the Dubai disaster with him saying it surpassed any financial wrongdoing by his favourite club; who can take that seriously? It’s just ridiculous.

The unfortunate thing is, the average white van man down south and up here buy into this shit. They spread it like wildfire on the internet painting a poor picture of Celtic. But Celtic are teeing them up on a consistent basis.

The average Celtic fan is seeing over crap like Durham, the puff pieces and ill-advised apology regarding Dubai. Some are defending it stoutly. Personally, my concerns lie with the abject failure to even mount a defence of the title.

Lawwell should have simply said, “We’re sorry, we made an arse of it”.

If he had, that story then becomes yesterday’s chip wrappers. Instead we witnessed a five-minute PR catastrophe that may well eclipse the Charles Green Sky Interview. Enormous credit to Peter Lawwell for not doing it from his heated driveway.

It will now be discussed from here to eternity when in fact the PR side of the club should have had it buried or managed it through disaster recovery.

But he alluded to other things that had no relevance to Dubai. Lennon did the same yesterday in his car-crash press conference.

Lawwell is a man who has successfully run Celtic for years and has umpteen year’s PR experience. It stunk of arrogance and belittled other, less fortunate clubs. It damages the brand further.

The lack of real contrition has left a bitter taste not only in the mouths of Celtic fans but countless supporters of other clubs.

And whoever leaked the story to the Daily Mail about the youths being furloughed needs sacking.

Celtic must have known that was coming. They must have known it would break. Instead of getting there first and highlighting heavily the fact that the club is meeting the remaining 20% of their wage, they missed an opportunity.

Realistically, Celtic has done nothing wrong by furloughing staff. They are unable to train or play and won’t miss out financially. I work for a company who turnover more than Celtic and was furloughed for six months. Not only was my basic wage reduced by a fifth, I had no commission for the best part of that time and I’m still clawing the lost money back.

It’s now being portrayed that Celtic are the bad guys for spending £250k on a training camp while the poor kids are left at home. Not a peep from the club. It’s not for me to devise the strategy but someone at Celtic needs too. Silence just won’t work.

On the other hand, we’re reading stories about the Ibrox club still deciding as to whether they will furlough their entire youth squad.

You and I know that they will not through choice but necessity.

It will, if managed properly, go under the radar – in fact the wheels are in motion as they fed the press the news that they’ll offer Ibrox up as a vaccination centre for COVID.

Something I believe Celtic has also offered.

Instead of wandering aimlessly like a punch-drunk heavyweight gorging on burgers and fast foods this club needs to get ring-fit and come out fighting from the first bell.

Of course, above all else the managerial situation needs to be addressed. Rumours of Lennon’s demise were leaked quicker than a team sheet after Sunday’s game but there’s hee-haw in the papers. Even minor things like post-match interviews are cringe worthy. Strachan and Kennedy are so ill-informed and unprepared it’s embarrassing.

Lennon, as most will agree should have been given the chop months ago and after Dubai (or probably before), Lawwell should have followed him. The sooner, the better.

A thank you and goodbye followed by a message from the hierarchy stating our intentions. Do it now. Get the fans back onside.

Celtic are pretty much alienating their public. Their failure to understand their vast audience worries me greatly. There’s a disconnection. The club should be saying “We know you’re angry, we know your pissed off but here’s how we fix it.”

Look at Motherwell.

A provincial Club whose PR is up there with the best.

They understand their fans. They know money is tight and have a plan in place for season tickets. They are constantly on the front foot. Despite losing their manager, he still heaped praise on the club. They’ve had a poor season on the pitch.

What they did was employ the right people to do the right job. Celtic’s PR Team has been in place for countless years. Either change the strategy or follow the manager out of the door.

Nobody it appears is dealing with crisis management, which most will know is an essential cog in the PR wheel. I find this absolutely astonishing. Celtic need to get a handle on this, otherwise we will be facing a battle on and off the pitch for longer than necessary.

Gavin McCann is a Celtic fan and blogger and a regular contributor to the site.

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