It’s always easier to improve a reputation when someone doesn’t have one versus reversing a negative stigma.
And then there’s Lance Armstrong, who is a case study in crisis management.
While I wouldn’t recommend this approach for re-entering the public arena for most, it is Lance Armstrong…
Where else is he to go except back to basics?
It’s not a bad thought. BUT, re-entering looking like a cross between Popeye and Gomer Pyle won’t do him any favors. He looks like a parody not a changed man.
Plus, the mention from the editor of Outside Magazine alludes to the fact Lance’s decision to do this “how to” video was with the intention of countering past coverage:
“You can tell it’s been a hard year… And I think part of that is his recognition that Outside and [other publications] covered all facets of him.”
I wouldn’t have gotten into bed with the platform(s) that reported your failings. It’s odd and makes Outside Magazine approach seem a bit opportunistic and, well, flat.
The video itself from a PR POV is weak. It hasn’t gone viral with only 5K views. (Perspective: A demonstration of a Marmot wind hoody on OM’s YouTube channel had 9K+ and Apolo Ohno over 13K views.)
So what was really achieved forcing a come back? More confirmation Lance is his ego, which is WAY out of touch.
With a reputation crisis of this magnitude, Lance or any person/company should take the longer road to build their reputation.
Otherwise, it ruins chances to ever come back.
What does the long road look like?
- Owning, apologizing and acknowledging mistakes publicly.
- Rebuilding from the beginning, plus adding in a new way of operating - changes within the leader, decision-making, processes and organization (and approach to life with the individual), even if it sets you back financially - and it probably should if you want to be believed you are making real changes.
- Including therapy/outside counsel/coaching of some sort to honestly work through issues and maybe even proactive dismissal or stepping down. (Faking this step or hiring someone as a proof point is a death sentence.)
- Finding a way to give back and operate from a humble place. (This is what Lance might have been trying to achieve.)
- Letting ample time go by until the right opportunity presents itself to showcase you/your organization in a new light. (Please don’t manufacture anything at this stage. Your word is worth less compared to what others say.)
Decisions and work to change must be authentic or don’t do them at all. Furthermore, achieving them in this order will build the greatest odds of a second chance.
Just look at Hilary R. Clinton. She didn’t have a crisis like Lance per se, but she does have two issues she is constantly countering in public perception:
- Carrying the baggage of her husband’s actions.
- She’s a woman.
HRC has had to work ten times as hard to prove her worth without there being a crisis of her own doing. Now that she lead the State Department during a crisis, a #3 is being added to the list.
What is there to learn from HRC?
Her approach to building credibility.
From First Lady to Senator, Clinton walked into Congress with a freshman mindset. She didn’t boast where she had been before. She put her head down to earn respect and worked her way into power once again - this time on Capitol Hill.
Both sides of the aisle commended her for her abilities having taken this approach, which lead to an easy confirmation for Sec. of State in the first place.
Every step of the way, HRC has chosen jobs that held meaning for her and where she wants to go. She then commits herself 100%. These decisions weren’t PR stunts, although from a reputation POV, they serve her well.
Now with news (and positive photos circulating) of becoming a grandmother, coverage of Chelsea joining CGI, and hope of a Presidential run… proof of integrity (over time) is taking hold.
What is being communicated with time and patience and through authentic actions is a strong connection between actions and words.
As a result, the snowball effect of positive news is taking place for HRC making anyone who even asks about the past (Monica Lewinsky, being a woman, or Benghazi) seem amateur or on a witch hunt.
Knowing how to align oneself to important values and live daily despite the ups and downs is a page Lance Armstrong could stand to take from Hillary’s (upcoming) book.