08 October 2010

Spin in the surf

The shame that is surf life saving continues. The spin also continues.

Following the second death last summer of another young competitor, Saxon Bird, at the national titles venue of Kurrawa, the organisation decided to extend the competition to a week, with "vacant" days.

According to SLSA, the reason for this is due to extra competitor numbers. That logic in itself is flawed. If there are extra competitors, they would be using the additional days to compete.

The real reason there are "lay days" is in case of more dangerous seas, so they can move the events forward or backward a day or two, depending on the weather and surf forecast.

The travesty is that the reasons put forward by SLSA are pure spin in the worst traditions of PR. What's wrong with telling the truth?

I have competed in more than 30 Australian championship and won 39 medals in surf events. I also warned SLSA of the dangers before last year's events (and this is documented in the media).

Certainly this latest rubbish emanating form SLSA HQ at Bondi does nothing to convince me this organisation has regained any credibility following last season's tragedy at Kurrawa.

This approach also avoids any mention of Saxon, thereby relegating him to the dustbin of history. That is extremely sad. I imagine, SLSA is taking a purely business-like approach in wanting not to draw attention to the real reasons for the change. Well, that sort of thing has a habit of working the opposite way.

PS: I have not seen any Coroner's findings, so have written to the Court asking if there has been a finding, or when one is likely.

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.