18 Mar Footballer’s crazy Twitter rants has dark lesson for us all
Twitter has been a liberation and a revolution for PR. Used correctly it can protect and enhance the image and push out wide scale publicity faster to an audience than it takes to boil a kettle.
It has allowed us to instantly hear the views from the rich and famous instantly and build up a rapport, making us feel like their friends rather than their followers.
However, in the past 24 hours we have seen the polar opposite of all that is good in tweeting in the undignified ramblings of a multi-millionaire footballer.
There is crisis management PR and then there is madness which no Public Relations guru can salvage.
Enter the fray Peter Odemwingie, a £40k a week goal scoring hero for Premiership team West Bromwich Albion, who in recent weeks has become an own-goal scoring villain.
For those non-football fans I apologise for detail, which I deem necessary, as this is a blog about management of reputation rather than trying to work out the crazy mind of a spoilt sports star.
Odemwingie until a few weeks ago was a hero to the 25,000 fans who watch West Brom. For years the club had yo-yoed between the top division of football and the second tier. Three seasons ago he signed from Lokomotiv Moscow, where the Nigerian player of mixed race had an awful time and received moronic abuse.
Instantly he became a hero at West Brom, with the fans taking him to their heart, and he scored goals galore as the club for the first time since they were a force in English football in the early 80s stayed up comfortably.
Last season there was much of the same. They had a top half of the table finish for the first time in 31 years and he even scored a hat-trick against fierce derby rivals Wolves in a 5-1 hiding.
This season, with the club continuing their upward progression and a new contract signed in the summer he was a man on his way to legendary status amongst the fans.
However, all that changed in January. London based Queens Park Rangers, the bottom club in the division, but bank rolled by fabulously wealthy people, wanted him and were willing to give him a huge pay rise. However, as he is under contract at Albion and QPR wouldn’t give a transfer fee acceptable to the West Mids club they didn’t want to do business.
It culminated with him arriving at QPR’s ground on transfer deadline day at the end of January in front of Sky TV cameras, doing his best to engineer a move.
The West Brom faithful and the world of football heard the reason he wanted to play for QPR was because of their enigmatic manager Harry Redknapp.
In football terms it was a strange career move, wanting to leave a club on the fringes of qualifying for Europe for a team rooted at the bottom and playing in the smallest stadium in the division even with a respected manager.
The whole world knew it had to be about the money.
Rather than commit to the £40k a week contract he was happy to sign in the summer, he took to Guinness and Twitter to vent his spleen to his 172,000 followers.
He moaned about the politics at West Brom and the way they’ve handled him this season, citing petty grievances that we all have at work.
In short there was little sympathy in the football world.
However, all credit to West Bromwich Albion they managed to integrate him into the fold again with dignified media handling and even the fans have, albeit some more begrudgingly than others, allowed his rehabilitation with him appearing as a substitute in recent games.
That now though has been blown into smithereens with a consistent Twitter rant for not being picked to start games again. Whether this is fuelled by Guinness and the fact yesterday was St Patrick’s Day remains uncertain.
But in short it seems clear his days at the club are now numbered.
I won’t bore you with the individual tweets, but the upshot is it has showed him to the masses as having an out of control ego and victim mentality and being a very troublesome individual.
His reputation is in tatters with it probable no other club in the top flight in England would touch him.
England cricket Chief Hugh Morris recently said sports stars on Twitter is the equivalent of giving a monkey a machine gun. Odemwingie is the epitome of this.
But for us not involved in sport there is a lesson to learn.
If you are going to put content on social media think of the ramifications. How will it look in 12 months time? We are all creating a digital footprint and it is says more about us than any CV.
Twitter , Facebook and all other forms of social media has the power to be our best friend and also our worst enemy. It has to be treated with reverent respect.
Hopefully those of us more intelligent than a greedy and spoilt footballer can take this on board. Publicity is power but as Odemwingie has shown used incorrectly it can also be deadly poison.