Crisis management expert: Michael Vick’s reputation to take hit post-dog-fighting allegations

July 20, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Sports News
DALLAS – Michael Vick’s reputation is certain to suffer following dog-fighting allegations that have received intense media coverage. According to Chris Anderson, a Dallas-based crisis management expert and communications consultant for The Marketing Arm, consumers will forever associate Vick, a quarterback for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, with the cruelty and violence of dog-fighting, regardless of the level of Vick’s actual involvement.

“In terms of damage to his reputation, it’s not about whether he’s actually did anything criminal,” said Anderson, who teaches a crisis management class at SMU. “It’s the public’s perception that he did something wrong or immoral. His simple association is enough to severely damage his reputation.”

To illustrate the impact a major crisis can have on a reputation, Anderson points to Kobe Bryant’s 2004 rape allegations.

“Here’s arguably the best basketball player in the world and his appeal and trust levels among U.S. consumers is incredibly low according to most indices,” said Anderson. “That was three years ago and he’s still working to build back his reputation.”

Anderson said he believes that years from now, even if Vick is cleared of any wrongdoing, the dog-fighting case will be a “reputational burden” for Vick.

“There’s a old saying that crisis managers use a lot, ‘A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired. But the world will always keep its eyes on the spot where the crack was.’ Just ask Kobe or Mel Gibson.”

As for repairing his reputation, Vick should make a public statement immediately and begin demonstrating concern about the situation.

“A non-response reflects uncertainty and gives the perception that he and his attorneys aren’t in control,” said Anderson. “I’m certain his lawyers won’t allow it, but he should show a little compassion here. Doing so doesn’t mean admitting responsibility for what was happening at his property. It simply shows that he’s aware of the significance of this situation and that he cares.”