Carnage UK press team hits back at negative media coverage

The communications team at student event organiser Varsity Leisure Group has spoken out against the media coverage this week about Carnage UK.

Scrutinised: binge drinking culture
Scrutinised: binge drinking culture

Carnage has been under fire in the media after a student taking part in one of its organised events was caught urinating on a wreath of poppies at a war memorial.

Philip Laing appeared in front of Sheffield Magistrates' Court this week where District Judge Anthony Browne warned him a prison term remained under consideration.

Speaking to PRWeek, Varsity press officer Steven Hughes said: ‘A lot of the media coverage has been unfair. The situation needs to be put into context.TWo thousand students were taking part in the event that night, and this was just one individual.'
 
He added: ‘We are very frustrated. While Philip committed a despicable act, he did it off his own back and is personally accountable. We have in place secure measures to ensure the safety of the students taking part. Philip bought and consumed a bottle of whisky prior to joining the event. We cannot chaperone everyone before they take part in our events.'
 
However, crisis communications expert and founder of Insignia Communications Jonathan Hemus said the company would need to take greater steps if it wanted to position itself more positively in the press.
 
‘The essence of Carnage's response this week has been that it does not encourage irresponsible drinking and it has given examples of steps it takes to substantiate this. This is a logical response to the situation it finds itself in. But it will not work.'
 
He added: ‘The reason is that the portrayal of Carnage's events, reflected not just in the media but also by Carnage's own website and T-shirts, will always overwhelm soberly worded policy statements.  The photograph of a student urinating on a war memorial is the epitome of this negative image.'
 
Hemus added that Carnage had two options going forward: ‘It can either continue to sell and promote its products in the same way, and be ready to defend itself as best it can in the knowledge that it will be the target of sustained criticism for the nature of its offering. Or rebrand the business, make major changes to its offering and position it in a more responsible and acceptable way.  As in many cases, the decision may come down to balancing short-term profit with long-term reputation.'

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