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Why did it take Fitness First four years to say ‘sorry’?

Why did it take Fitness First four years to say ‘sorry’?
June 15, 2012

In a feature on crisis communications in the latest issue of Australasian Leisure Management, author Sophie Meere, General Manager at Beyond the Square Communication, explains why the 'No Comment' approach to a crisis is not effective and leaves a business open to speculation and further media scrutiny.

Among examples presented by Meere, is Fitness First's reaction to the death of one of its members at Fitness First in Collins Street, Melbourne in 2007.

Dave Thomas, a fit, healthy 29-year-old suddenly collapsed in the weights area of his gym while exercising.

The only staff member working at the time was a receptionist who did not have up-to-date first aid training and, unfortunately, in the 12 minutes it took for paramedics to arrive, Mr Thomas died.

In August last year, the Victorian Coroner found that Fitness First did not contribute to Mr Thomas's death, saying that the gym was not equipped to deal with a medical emergency, the coroner did recommend that the Victorian Government introduce regulations for mandatory first-aid training for gym staff.

In a statement issued following the Coroner's findings, Fitness First Australia said it had reviewed its first aid policies and made it compulsory for an employee with a current first aid qualification to be on duty at all times.

Fitness First also sent its condolences Mr Thomas's family - something it had not done in the previous four years.

This tragic incident raised a lot of media attention but, during the four years following the incident did Fitness First issue any comment on the matter or offer the victim's family any expression of sympathy.

Meeres concludes "clearly, the situation could have been handled very differently with a sympathetic approach (without admitting liability) from Fitness First likely to have improved their often none too high reputation."

In the feature, Meeres concludes "look at crisis communications for your brand as if a fire is spreading rapidly, you need to put out the flame, find the cause of the fire and put systems in place to prevent it igniting again. Manage crises well because burning a brand can leave scars among media and consumers alike."

The full feature 'No Way to Deal with a Crisis' can be read in the May/June 2012 issue of Australasian Leisure Management.

For more information go to www.fitnessalliance.net.au/2011/08/gym-industry-standards/

1st June 2012 - FITNESS FIRST TO SHED 24 AUSTRALIAN CLUBS 

14th February 2012 - MANAGEMENT CHANGES AT FITNESS FIRST’S UK BASE 

14th September 2011 - MEMBERSHIP, PROFITS FALL AT FITNESS FIRST 

4th November 2010 - FITNESS INDUSTRY PUTS CUSTOMER SAFETY FIRST 

5th October 2010 - ASSOCIATIONS JOINTLY ENDORSE NEW GUIDELINES FOR EXERCISE INTENSITY 


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

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