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Grill’d Co-Founder Geoff Bainbridge has made a name for himself this past week after an incriminating video was leaked of him allegedly smoking an illegal substance. Just days later, Bainbridge stepped down from his role as CEO of Lark Distilling with the board citing the reasoning “to enable him to manage a personal matter”. A strategic PR move to lessen the blow to the company, but we can’t say the same for Grill’d.

While he was one of the early investors in burger chain Grill’d, Bainbridge does not hold any current role in the company following a public legal battle with then-partner Simon Crowe in 2016 – in which he called Crowe an explicit four letter word beginning with C. The pair parted ways after 18 months in court and Bainbridge pursued other ventures.

As a far more widely-known company than Lark Distilling, Grill’d has unfortunately been at the centre of media headlines on the topic. It appears Grill’d is yet to make an official statement on the issue, which may be strategic, and has also continued posting to social media as usual.

The media outcry on this situation is not only in relation to the video itself, but also Bainbridge’s own explanation, claiming it was filmed years ago overseas resulting in an alleged extortion scandal. “The reality for me is there is footage of me consuming class-A drugs in a foreign country”, said Bainbridge during an interview. However, eagle-eyed reporters believe the video was actually filmed in Bainbridge’s home here in Australia, much more recently than he has stated. These accusations purportedly have been denied.

As publicists, crisis communications 101 is to ensure you have ALL the facts up front. You explain to clients the detrimental impacts of withholding information (case and point…). It’s imperative to be open and honest up front – as we can see from this scenario, full transparency and ownership is vital in avoiding any further evidence coming to light and damaging your credibility and reputation even further. This goes for both brands and individuals.

By Rachael Garcia – PR & Influencer Assistant at InsideOut PR

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