It was one of the world's worst kept secrets: Lance Armstrong's decision to tell all on Oprah. The media widely covered this leading up to the interviews, and speculated about motives, what would be revealed, etc.
I thought t that I would try to find out from other people in the PR field whether they thought that Lance's decision to tell his story in this manner was a good PR move. So, last week, before the interviews aired, I conducted a survey. My question was simply this - forgetting for a moment about what you think about Lance as a person and disgraced sport figure - was he taking the right steps to turn around his image?
Here are some of the answers that I got when I started an email thread:
- Is waiting until you get an exclusive with Oprah to admit to years of doping a PR move? Yes. A better one was just admitting it when you actually got caught.
- My 2 cents: Lance Armstrong’s image is beyond repair. There is no amount of PR or Oprah interviews that can rehab him. He cheated and lied to the public and the government for personal gain.
- Might be worthwhile to look into some of the Tiger Woods controversy awhile back for comparison. Slightly different as one is infidelity vs. doping and one was kicked out of the sport, the other not. But he also did the Oprah apology that bombed. Tiger still suffers in the public eye for his indiscretions, but as far as an athlete goes you cannot deny he changed the game of golf. Something to think about…
- It’s different though – Tiger is still respected as a once-great athlete because his indiscretions had nothing to do with his athletic performance. But Lance Armstrong’s entire legacy is now in doubt. He cheated. No one was inducted into the baseball hall of fame this year because of drug issues for all potentials. That says something about how the public and the professional sports industry feels about cheaters -- cheating in sports, not cheating on their wives.
One of my friends who is in PR said that it was the right PR move, but that Lance has a long road back to repairing his image. Since it seems that Lance was angling for something here, my feeling is that most people would not care much about his belated tell all - he obviously has an ulterior motive, i.e. to get back into competitive sports. If you really want to burnish your image, just do the right thing and then go away for awhile.
The interviews are now over, of course. I saw the first one and did not think he did too badly. Some also expressed said that he did as well as could be expected. Others said that he was not contrite enough; one opined that Lance is a sociopath.
I enjoyed the SNL segment on this and thought I would share it - I thought Jason Sudeikis did a brilliant job as Lance.