VOX POP: Following the Dallaglio affair, what is your advice on media relations?



It might seem like a well-drilled answer, but you want to be as honest as possible. Don't try to be too clever, otherwise things might come back to haunt you. In sport these days, players need representation and guidance. As far as any training goes, we tell our clients to be aware. We would have a personal manager with them during any negotiations, though, because we can smell a rat. I wouldn't have given up the captaincy and would have hit back hard. The word "lie" doesn't go down well, even if you were taken for a ride.



Most sportsmen are young and inexperienced. They need advice on how to handle themselves. If you're going to give an interview, you've got to be very careful about what you say and you've got to do it when it suits you. You should ask in advance what the questions will be and have your answers ready. Preparation is crucial. If one of my clients receives an offer, they immediately show it to me and I decide whether this is an acceptable company or person. It is odd that top football clubs will spend millions on players but nothing on media training.



All of our clients are always kept informed of any issues that are relevant to their sport, and which they may be asked about. An agent will normally be present, alongside our clients, during interviews with the media. However, all of our clients are also advised to consider how their comments could be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Media training courses can be useful, although I believe that it is equally important for the individual to retain their own character and not always adopt the PR line.



As a PR man, I naturally give advice about handling the media. For most sportsmen, whether it be Muhammad Ali or O J Simpson, it's all about being conscious of an image and making that image as natural as possible. It is also important to be seen to be putting something back. But you have to be aware of potential problems. My advice to Lawrence Dallaglio would have been to call a press conference before this broke out, and reveal that he took drugs as a young man. That way you don't damage your career, and you stop people exposing you.



I don't have general advice. There are different ways to treat different people. On the whole I encourage people to talk to the media, and try to develop relationships. Sportsmen need to realise it is a two- way thing. They will have to deal with the media at some stage, so it is good to get experience. That is just the normal way that one behaves in terms of business. Dallaglio didn't know that he was talking to the media. But it would have seemed to me that something peculiar was going on. What was he doing without his agent there?



I advise them not to say a word; not to talk to the media under any circumstances without checking with me first. I am so disgusted with the state of the media at the moment, that I advise all my clients not to talk in one-to-one situations. I don't think it's handled right, and I don't think the media deserve access to my clients. A quick interview after a game is one thing, but otherwise the only media training I give them is to keep their mouths shut. I'm afraid that's the situation we have arrived at.


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