Hard won sponsors can evaporate in a media storm

Date: 27 Jan 2016

Bumblebee Design

Rachael Somerset, senior associate at national law firm Mills & Reeve, warns that pictures and stories from nights out can result in legal action from sponsors and limits future earning potential.


What should the UHNWIs be aware of when frequenting nightclubs? What are the dangers for their reputation?

It is easy to feel sheltered in an exclusive club, but nights out pose a risk to the UHNWI’s professional brand and reputation. If you are a sports person, or a role model known for your work in the community, or projecting a stable family life, you always need to think about how that will reflect on the lifestyle products or services you are associated with.

For some, a snap of you leaving Shoreditch House in a less than pristine state could contravene contractual obligations, limit future opportunities and leave you with questions to deal with after the morning after. Equally, it is not just the danger of the photo that appears on Twitter: at a social event UHNWIs are often approached to chat, or are in the presence of individuals listening in for any personal content that could be newsworthy. Be cautious who you talk to and what you say and, where possible, limit this kind of exposure by using private rooms.

Tell us about some interesting cases you’ve been dealing with?

I advised a high profile sports personality who whilst on stage, made a joke about himself and his personal life. The room included journalists from a national newspaper who ran a story the following day on his “joke” which was misinterpreted and damaging to his reputation. The story was published to millions and left him having to answer to his chief executive.

What’s the best policy or gold standard for reputation and brand management?

It depends on personal brand and professional commitments. As a general rule, you should be aware of and follow any policies or expectations held by your employer, your own business and those you contract with, such as sponsors or advertisers. If you are an employer, you must keep in mind your corporate values and expectations of your employees. Try and behave consistently. Keep a close eye on your social media presence and on content published about you in print. You should be seen to be proactively managing your reputation to avoid any prejudice to your brand going forward. If you have a concern about content, take advice and swift action. Your reputation is the most valuable thing you possess.