PR Week: PR fault: Sharapova's failure to come clean puts ball in sponsors' court

Maria Sharapova's drugs ban and her public reaction to the suspension do serious damage to her image and long-term prospects, PR professionals told PRWeek UK today - but another sponsorships expert still argues that the Russian's partner brands should not be too hasty to end their relationship with her.

Sharapova had announced in March that she had tested positive for a banned substance, meldonium, which she had been taking on advice from a doctor for several years, but which had since been put on the banned list. She was praised for the way she proactively controlled the message in her initial announcement – and her racquet supplier Head said she had been "courageous" when it announced its decision to continue working with her.

Yesterday, her two-year ban was announced by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following a hearing last month. Sharapova shared her reaction on her Facebook page.

David Alexander, MD of Calacus PR and a former sports writer for various UK papers, points out that this statement does not mention her legal argument – revealed in the ITF judgement – that a ban would cause the former world number one "a very substantial loss of earnings and sponsorships, exclusion from the 2016 Olympics, and irreparable damage to her reputation".

The New Indian Express: Manchester United sack managers the hard way

There is no easy way to sack a Premier League manager and Manchester United have found that out the hard way with their firing of Louis Van Gaal.

Some are calling the manner of the Dutchman's departure from United a "public relations disaster" for England's most famous club as it prepares to name Jose Mourinho.

The Dutchman was "apparently informed" of his impending departure by his wife Truus on Saturday night after United had won the FA Cup, the BBC reported. She had just read a news report on the Internet.

Van Gaal's predecessor David Moyes also found that he was to be fired from the media before he was told by Manchester United.

Calacus sports public relations agency managing director David Alexander said: "It is a public relations disaster for news to leak that he was to be replaced almost before his team had even changed out of their playing kit after savouring an extra-time victory at Wembley."

SportBusiness – Calm head in a crisis: 7 ways to deal with a negative news story

“IT IS RARELY THE CRISIS that destroys a reputation – it is how you deal with it that shapes the future.”

So said David Alexander, managing director of independent sports PR consultancy Calacus when SportBusiness International asked him to reflect on the way that Maria Sharapova handled the news of her recent drug offence.

“She was humble and proactive, took responsibility and accepted that she had let down her fans and her sport, rather than focusing on her own personal reputational damage as some sports stars may have done.”

So what else can we learn from the Russian star’s story?

Gorkana – How Twitter’s ‘live’ offering will provide value for PR

Twitter reported its financial results for the quarter ending on March 31 this week, highlighting its ‘live’ strategy for 2016, which will focus on creating more premium content, particularly in the sports sector.

Gorkana speaks to sports agencies M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment and Calacus to find out what this means for PR.

PR Moment – Who are the best clients in PR?

We asked agency chiefs who their favourite clients are.

They may not have named any names, but clients who stand out are the ones they have a personal relationship with, those who understand PR and who are also honest and straight-talking.

Mind you, it also helps if they pay on time and create fantastic products and services...