Inside Snooker likes a proper old-school bit of PR, and Charlie McCann of Welsh Open sponsors BetVictor provided it in the aftermath of the Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘146’ incident.
As a journalist you get bombarded with press releases of all types, and to be perfectly frank most of them are pretty uninspiring, badly written with little humour and unlikely ever to make it into a national newspaper. There are exceptions, Betfred are also strong in this area.
When O’Sullivan made the already infamous decision to snub the chance of making a 14th 147 maximum break in Cardiff for financial reasons, it was in a trice a much bigger story than if he had potted a 14th black and cleared up.
This can be a time for cool heads, both in the media and certainly for an event sponsor handed an unexpected boon and quickly deciding how to make the most of it.
As in this case if the sponsor is a bookmaker it is your event, if there is capital to be made you want it to be you that makes it (rivals will steal your show if you are too slow).
McCann’s experience told him that this was a story that would totally polarise the snooker, sporting and wider public and therefore could go huge. So how best to exploit the situation, in the best possible sense?
The key for bookies in their field is to appear generous while actually wanting to take all your money, it is a neat trick if you can pull it off. And McCann quickly decided with howls of disapproval starting to build over the Rocket’s action that there was a way of both appeasing punters who may have backed there to be a 147 in the match or tournament, and gain wider exposure.
He quickly put out a release saying: “Ronnie obviously has an issue over the £10,000 offered for a 147 break but we don’t think our customers who backed a maximum break in the tournament, or the handful who backed the Rocket for a 147 in the match should be out of pocket; we have paid out accordingly.”
Speed is important, and as a result this well-judged statement made it into several national newspapers in stories that ranged from back pages to news sections.
Simple like most of the best ideas, effective, hitting the right mark and tone and a good job well done (with presumably some happy bosses). And that was just Monday.