Ah, the magic of the FA Cup. As Sutton United prepared to face Arsenal on Monday night, football fans everywhere were busy putting their money where their mouths were. Would the non-league side do the unthinkable and progress to the sixth round, knocking out Premier League side Arsenal along the way?
Unfortunately, they didn’t, but following the lack of a giant killing there was another surprise story that has filled the headline gap. That was of course the eating of a pie on the side-lines by reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw, which has since led to his resignation from the club.
At the centre of the storm is an investigation by the FA into any possible breaches of betting rules – we will have to wait for the outcome. Looking past that for a moment, we should also consider the incident from a PR perspective. Was it a pre-conceived publicity stunt, as some have accused it of being? If so, does the huge amount of attention it has received make it a success?
PR stunts can be tricky territory. It goes without saying that they need to be well thought out, with clear objectives and goals from a brand. It doesn’t matter how many column inches you gain, if the stunt has nothing to do with the brand strategy, it’s wasted, or worse, could be damaging to the brand values. All possible reactions and fallout should be considered, even when working under tight time constraints.
For Wayne Shaw, time will tell whether he will emerge as a loveable celebrity – several brands have already made a public play for Shaw’s engagement – or if the story will be remembered for killing the FA Cup magic. Either way, it stands as a reminder to PR teams everywhere to think before you press go on that funny, quirky stunt idea. Make sure it’s authentic, otherwise the negative repercussions could affect both the brand and the reputation of the PR industry.