The Ryan Lochte story has received a great deal of press. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have see an athlete completely, publicly tarnish their image.
In case you missed it, Lochte stated that there were guns drawn at the heads of he and his teammates while they were in Rio for the Olympics. The video surveillance footage now shows a very different story and everyone from the US Olympics committee to the brands that he was associated with are now second guessing their relationship with Lochte.
According to US Weekly, Lochte has lost all of his sponsorship’s and is now scheduled to appear on the TV show Dancing With The Stars. We find this quite interesting. This is obviously a PR stunt to improve the damage that has been done to his image. His PR team probably wants him to come across immature, but still someone that can be adored.
This story has brought about a lot of emotion. Check out this exchange between Al Rocker and Billy Bush on the Today Show:
From a PR standpoint:
If you find yourself on the PR team of Ryan Lochte, how do you fix this situation?
Step 1: He has to own it! Live streaming would actually be his best friend right now. He needs to authentically come out and consistently apologize. Live streaming would force him to answer some very tough questions from the public, but this will allow people to get their frustrations out and move on.
Step 2: He needs to go back to Rio and apologize face to face to the security guard and to the officials that may have been involved.
Step 3: He also needs to personally visit and apologize to his teammates. This scandal stayed in the media circuit and has really taken away from what the Olympics should have been.
Step 4: He should do some PSAs directed towards kids on why lying is bad and look at the consequences that he had to suffer.
Remember, when a brand looks to bring on a spokesperson, they do not only look at their past…but they think 3 to 4 years in advance on how the consumer may view this individual. They put their brand image on the line when partnering with any type of influencer. When this person tarnishes their public perception, it has been proven best for the brand to cut ties (at least for a couple of years).
The lesson for us as entrepreneurs, public figures, and brand managers is that we must ALWAYS protect our brand. It is the legacy to which your consumers will stay loyal to you.
What suggestions do you have for the PR team of Ryan Lochte? Leave your feedback in the comments below.