24th April 2014

PR Shambles or Good Old Fashioned Journalism?

 on Thursday April 24, 2014

THEY’RE the most newsworthy football club in the world and whether you love them or loathe them Manchester United are always big news.

In case you missed it – and if you did you must live on the moon – they sacked their manager this week.

David Moyes had only been in the job 296 days. Many said that his task of following United’s most successful ever manager in Sir Alex Ferguson was an impossible job and in the end they were proved right.

Since he was told of his fate in a 7.40am meeting with chief executive Ed Woodward on Tuesday morning the club has been on the end of a flurry of criticism for their handling of the situation.

That’s largely due to the fact that by Monday evening every national newspaper website along with other outlets carried reports that Moyes was ‘a dead man walking.’

Twitter lit up with the news and respected Manchester United fans forums were already speculating on who the club coveted as a successor to David Moyes.

Social media played a huge part in the build-up to Moyes’ departure, with people tweeting about it hours before the club had released any form of official communication.

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It’s been reported that David Moyes was furious news leaked out 24 hours before he’d been told of his fate and most would say with good reason.

But should we be condemning United for shoddy and ungentlemanly conduct or should we, for once, be giving a round of applause to that much maligned species, the British journalist?

The most important weapon in a journalist’s armoury is his contacts book. These days that’s undoubtedly stored on a mobile phone but the terminology remains.

Sometimes journalists will look at ‘breaking’ a story as an exclusive. On other occasions they will team up with colleagues on other titles and work as a ‘pack.’

Given that this story seemed to break across all titles at a similar time an educated guess would be that the pack smelt blood, teamed up and went for the kill.

Somebody in a position of authority at Manchester United must have confirmed to them, ‘off the record,’ that their rumours were true and Moyes was on his way.

The League Managers Association – a body which represents the interest of managers in all divisions of the football league – has accused Manchester United of being “unprofessional” in the sacking of David Moyes

Their chief exec Richard Bevan said: “The LMA is very disappointed with the nature of David’s departure from Manchester United and to read extensive reports in the press, confirming David’s sacking, before David himself had been spoken to officially by the club.”

The club finally made the news official with a tweet on Tuesday morning. It’s thought that this is the first time news about a high-profile football manager being ‘let go’ has been announced on Twitter before an official press release has been issued.

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There’s no doubt there was room for improvement in the PR handling of the events surrounding the dismissal of David Moyes.

But sometimes it’s too easy to ignore a job well done and on this occasion the press pack, who follow Manchester United round the globe should all take great credit for a good old-fashioned scoop.

By B2B PR assistant Rebecca Parker and head of media Dave Goddard