Sports Reputation & Crisis Management

More than ever, reputations of high-profile athletes and organisations are left in ruins by the intrusive glare of the media spotlight.

Wilkinson Butler expertly services the growing need for crisis communications and reputation management in elite sport.

We are a leading agency focused on improving reputations and influencing change

With a crisis comes chaos and confusion. Phones ring off the hook and aggressive journalists launch hand grenades. Corporate partners threaten to pull sponsorship and government authorities demand immediate action.

Your tight-knit team rapidly fractures as friends vanish, concerned for their own survival.

Organisations that don’t invest in crisis communications and reputation management are exposed to the dangers of both a crisis and trail of harm it leaves behind among key stakeholders.

Wilkinson Butler’s steady hands, calm demeanour and long-range vision ensures you remain on course amid a crisis. We advise some of corporate Australia’s biggest players, with a detailed understanding of the complexities of community and political expectations. Social media has changed sport and the wider media landscape forever, and this evolution presents its own enormous challenges.

Wilkinson Butler has an intimate understanding of the traditional media landscape and the sustained pressures on the business models. Our team has amassed 50 years of on-air experience, setting the agenda reporting for 60 Minutes, 4 Corners, 7:30, A Current Affair, 7 News and Sports Tonight.

Wilkinson Butler staff have relationships with the world’s best athletes, coaches and executives. Granted privileged access inside Australian sports inner sanctum, we have a deep knowledge of what makes our most successful athletes, leaders and organisations tick.

Crisis Management

Crisis Preparedness

Reputation Management

Media Engagement

Media Training

Crisis Management

Wilkinson Butler offers safe hands in a crisis. We’re available 24/7 for support to successfully guide you through the stress and chaos of a media storm. Journalists can be unforgiving. Paparazzi stalk you and your loved ones. Your home can become a prison.

Wilkinson Butler has the experience and knowledge to execute a clear and concise media strategy, to help protect your reputation.

A combination of Liam Cox’s deep understanding of sport and Peter Wilkinson’s crisis expertise offers a formidable support team when you need it most.

Reputation Management

Wilkinson Butler is renowned for building and protecting the reputations of our clients. We conceptualise and implement extensive reputation management plans, with our detailed understanding of community and political expectations surrounding social responsibility. We identify and manage potentially crippling issues before the crisis occurs. Wilkinson Butler’s reputation management services include:

  • Strategy development
  • Crisis Preparation
  • Crisis Recovery
  • Media Relations
  • Social Responsibility
  • Thought Leadership
  • Digital Strategy
  • Public Awareness
  • Political Awareness
  • Reconciliation action plans

Media Training

With the 24/7 News cycle – expert media training is essential. Wilkinson Butler’s media department has 50 years of live television experience. Our media training is practical, interactive and specifically tailored to the individual requirements of your athlete, coach or executive. Wilkinson Butler’s media training is designed to protect your company’s image and align with your corporate values and messaging. Our service includes:

  • Media strategy design
  • Tailored 1-on-1 media training for athletes, coaches and key executives
  • Interactive media training for teams and clubs
  • Workshopping and developing key messages
  • Crisis Simulation
  • Presentation training
  • Advice on working with tough journalists
  • Navigating door-stop interrogations

Crisis Preparedness

Successful athletes and teams have rock-solid game plans – executed with laser precision. In business it’s imperative to have another game plan ready for the day when you’re hit with a crisis, one that has the potential to cripple your reputation and organisation. Wilkinson Butler’s crisis training ensures:

  • A well-trained leadership crisis team
  • A clear & concise crisis plan
  • A unified message across the company
  • Nimble strategy design & tactical responses.
  • A prepared spokesperson
  • Media and social media preparedness

Media Engagement

Wilkinson Butler’s media engagement strategies are based on 50 years of industry experience reporting and producing stories for Australia’s most watched TV programs and most listened to radio stations. Our strategic thinking considers traditional, social and digital platforms objectively. We craft your corporate values into key digestible messages that cut through and hit the mark. Wilkinson Butler ensures your story stands out – and makes the news…

Our offering entails:

  • Media strategy development and execution
  • Development of newsworthy story angles
  • Writing media releases & content
  • Identifying key media targets
  • Engagement and pitching to journalists
  • Media training of key staff
  • Establishing a network of trusted and influential journalists

A team you can trust

Our sports division is managed by Peter Wilkinson and Liam Cox. Between them is a wealth of experience steering athletes and clubs through the chaos of various crises and issues, which can trash reputation and revenue.

Peter Wilkinson


Peter Wilkinson is a crisis management & recovery expert with over 17 years of experience in this field.

Previously, Peter was one of Australia’s most respected TV journalists with over 30 years working on programs including the ABC’s This Day Tonight and Four Corners, and then Channel Nine’s ACA and 60 Minutes.

Peter is the Chair of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom, advocating for media freedom in Australia and Asia.

He is past Chair of the Global Communications Alliance, an organisation of corporate and public affairs agencies that specialise in crisis.

He is also past regional president (Asia/Pacific) of IPREX, one of the world’s global largest PR corporations.

He has been a member of four industry task forces, strengthening relationships between industry and government.

Since leaving journalism in 2002, he has managed successful crisis outcomes in many sectors including countering cyber-security attacks, freeing journalists’ imprisoned overseas, sexual abuse/harassment, media and social media attacks, industry restructures, product recalls, a food poisoning, mergers and acquisitions, court cases, judicial inquiries and royal commissions, countering or creating activist campaigns, pollution spills, extortion and blackmail threats, and fires/explosions.

A lot of these crises are exacerbated by social media; others, as companies’ struggle to cope with the rapid changes brought about by structural, cultural or digital transformation. The ‘recovery’ part of a crisis often involves significant change management – transformation; always with a focus on protecting and improving reputation.

When it comes to helping people or brands improve their reputation, Peter’s experience allows him to quickly identify the known and potentially unknown aspects of a situation, and propose non-inflammatory solutions through the eyes of an investigative journalist turned experienced PR and crisis management expert. He strategically oversees all elements of execution, has a careful eye, and is always a phone call away.

“Crisis PR is perhaps the most stressful type of communication. It usually involves intense media, which can be merciless. Some people around us will lose their cool and want to change strategy. Others will try and interfere, thinking they know what’s best. After an event, say a story on TV, many will second-guess what should have been done. To survive a crisis, we need to be experienced, confident and assertive, giving clear instructions nimbly and simply. We need a thick skin.”

Liam Cox

Sports Director

Liam has a deep understanding of sport, sporting issues, and the chaos created by an often unrelenting and unsympathetic media. His experience means he is a safe pair of hands, supported by the strong crisis-team at Wilkinson Butler.

Liam’s understanding of crisis and reputation management emanates from a distinguished media career – spanning nearly two decades. Formerly one of Australia’s leading sports journalists, he has an intimate understanding of the rapidly changing media landscape, the pressure on journalists, and the complexities surrounding community and political expectations.

Liam’s passion for, and phenomenal understanding of, the sporting community and its issues, combined with Wilkinson Butlers strategic and tactical experience means we are well positioned to resolve sensitive and controversial issues for high profile public figures & organisations.

Liam worked as a senior reporter and newsreader with Channel 7 News in Sydney, Network Ten’s Sports Tonight program, and radio stations Triple M and 4BC.

Working at the coalface of Australian media, Liam’s cultivated an extensive network of influential and trusted contacts across sport, media and entertainment.

Take control of your reputation today