Today’s big sports news isn’t about Monday-morning quarterbacking but rather the sordid downfall of cycling phenom Lance Armstrong. The International Cycling Union announced it is stripping Armstrong of all his competitive titles, removing his name from the Tour de France record books and sports glory.
With this latest action, Lance Armstrong is effectively out of business when it comes to endorsements, advocacy, and business partnerships. The overwhelming recent response by the US Anti-Doping Agency, Livestrong’s disassociation with Armstrong’s role, and now the stripped titles… it’s easy to wonder if Armstrong — the athletic, cancer-crusading brand — can ever bounce back.
Maybe, maybe not… but if he’s got any hope of doing so, here are three quick PR tips:
• Armstrong must keep his cool. Compare his recent statement on leaving Livestrong, which struck even, professional tones, with his defiant and inflammatory comments and responses as the attacks mounted. Anything Armstrong says at the moment needs to be cool and balanced.
• This likely isn’t the end. PR meltdowns often have the same common feature — death by a 1,000 cuts. The slow drip-drip-drip of bad news on Armstrong seemingly continues, and he certainly hasn’t aided his overall efforts by taking the polar opposite position on every single bit of criticism aimed his way. Now that there’s the likelihood of lawsuits against him, Armstrong’s name will probably take more hits before this is all over.
• People love a comeback. As bad as it gets, Lance is an American athlete, and this country loves nothing more than a good ol’ comeback. There’s probably a path forward after the dust settles, but to ensure he has any chance of going that direction, Armstrong must get all the bad news out, let that run its course, and then start plotting his return.