The ice hockey season ended with the beginning of the spring, but not for the PR team of KHL Medveščak. They always make sure that the club is constantly active with various activities – in public, in the media or on the social media.
But, very rarely they have to deal with crisis situations on social media regarding their players. One of those situations came up when Saša Martinović, one of the players, put on a wrong shirt and made a very wrong move by taking a video in the same shirt and posting it on his Instagram.
Saša Martinović took an Instagram video of cows which decided to follow him as he was strolling near his house in Germany. But he was wearing a T-shirt of the SKA St. Petersburg, the club which was a huge competition for Medveščak in KHL championship.
Soon, the video that supposed to be funny, ended up as a huge nightmare for Saša. The fans didn’t like his shirt , so his and his playmates profiles on social media, which weren’t maintained by professionals, ended up as a platform for expressing hatred and displeasure.
You can only imagine what those comments referred to the player say.
Of course, the fans called out the whole club too and with a good reason. Medveščak is well known by strict communication rules, which were set by Ranko Vučinić, who is a main PR consultant along with his team. It was never confirmed, but there are rumors about PR being the strongest department of the club. It was also rumored that, without Vučinić, none of the decisions made by Gojanović, the president of the club, can’t be brought to life. We can assume that the whole PR team just waited for the right moment to react, because they did, with great quality and in the matter of minutes.
The player independently decides on the content and the way of communication on his profile. Since that we’re not in the season and the player isn’t yet confirmed in the composition of the team for the next season, we can’t directly affect on his posts. It is expected that player behaves responsibly, professionally and with a lot of respect towards the fans, public and Medveščak. We believe that the player, with his thoughtless gesture didn’t mean to harm anyone, especially himself or the club.
After 24 hours Martinović responded – concretely, clear, smart and above all – brave. He openly and bravely wrote how sorry he was, to the club, fans and public. He also made a good use of their slogan – #TogetherWeAre.
— Sasa Martinovic (@Salemartinovic) May 13, 2015
Thank you all for your messages, the beautiful ones and the ones not so beautiful. I’m truly sorry if I offended and hurt anyone with the choice of my shirt. I didn’t have bad intentions and I didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially not the club, the fans or myself. I apologize to the fans and the club, if that offended them. I want everyone to know that I have a lot of respect and love for Medveščak, Zagreb and the fans. That respect and love will always be with me, no matter where I am. Medveščak is my club and Croatia and Germany are my homelands. I mean it when I say #togetherweare.
— Ranko Vucinic (@rankovucinic) May 13, 2015
Responsible and brave ones admit their mistakes. Saša Martinović is one of them. Well done! Clearly the media training has its purpose.
He probably did seek help from his PR team, but that is not at all a flaw or a problem, that was a great thing to do, because what happened after was amazing. People started to love him even more than before the whole ”shirt situation”.
There are a few advices coming from this kind of situation.
If you’re a public person:
1. Be responsible and consistent.
Nobody can stop Saša from wearing SKA shirt, but there is a time and place for everything.
2. You have to keep in mind that your every step is susceptible to critisism.
Don’t post anything without analyzing it and discussing about it with professionals.
3. Be a part of the social media training and apply what you have learned.
In this case we know that Medveščak had several trainings of that kind.
4. On the throne of your priorities must be professionalism.
If you have received rules of social media communication – follow them. This is also a huge part of your job.
In 24 hours, Saša Martinović,”the most eligible bachelor of Medveščak”, became the bad guy of the club and managed to recieve his role of ”the good guy” back in the same 24 hours. The question that remains open is – Will Vučinić manage to look past his mistake and will that same mistake affect his contract extension?
But one thing is certain – this case will be presented as a good case study on some of the future social media trainings for the players for a reason .