Cav shows that a little humility is good for the brand

Cav shows that a little humility is good for the brand

Harrogate in North Yorkshire is celebrated for its spa waters, tea shops and conference centres. On 5th July it also became famous as the place where Mark Cavendish, the sprint king of British Cycling, crashed on stage one of the Tour de France, injuring his shoulder so badly in a collision with the Australian rider Simon Gerrans that he had to retire from the three-week event. Cavendish had hoped to win the stage in his mother’s home town, so missing out was a heavy blow.

 

Watching the crash on TV I thought both riders were equally to blame, so was surprised the next day to see that Cavendish had accepted responsibility. The Sunday Telegraph quoted him as saying: “It was my fault. I’ll personally apologise to Simon as soon as I get the chance.”

 

Cavendish is a ferocious competitor on his bike, and can be prickly off it; a couple of years ago he “confiscated” the tape recorder of a journalist who asked a question he disapproved of. So it was impressive to hear him apologise when he could have bemoaned his bad luck, blamed Gerrans or just stayed silent.

 

There’s a PR lesson here for anyone in the corporate world who has to face the media after something has gone spectacularly wrong. Assuming it is legally safe to do so, delivering a timely, heartfelt apology will deflect criticism and begin the process of putting things right. Mark Cavendish might be out of the 2014 Tour de France, with his arm in a sling, but his gracious apology has enhanced “brand Cav” in the eyes of his fellow riders and the wider cycling public.

Article date

July 7th, 2014

Richard Cheeseman

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