By now we’ve all heard the story of Ryan Lochte and the huge international incident he and three other swimmers caused in Rio. Lochte who is 32, wasn’t expected to make the next Olympics in four years. He needed to go out on top and rack up endorsements as he publicly toyed with the idea of being the oldest swimmer in the pool in Tokyo.
His actions and how his PR team handle this matter will tell the tale of how he will be remembered. Unfortunately, the approach taken so far has positioned Lochte as sorry for being caught, not so much for his actions. He confessed to ‘over-exaggerating’ the story (as opposed to under-exaggerating?).
Here’s what we’d counsel:
Get back in the pool and give back to others- – -fast, with kids, lots of kids (and photo ops). Show how sorry you are by becoming the poster child for giving to others. Encouraging future would-be Olympians is a nice start.
Offer up a heartfelt apology in an on-air interview that will be carried around the world and reflect a true spirit of remorse. Say the words, “I’m sorry. I screwed up.”
Whatever sanction or discipline the IOC hands down, take it and be thankful for it.
As far as endorsements go, you’re toast. Focus on what you can do to make a difference, not what you can’t. If you are lucky, you might be asked to come to Tokyo as a commentator, but that’s only if you establish a track record of lessons well-learned.
BOTTOM LINE: His future in his own hands, and that’s scary.
Just last week the Trump campaign made significant changes to their management team. Within a matter of hours, the candidate was making a speech that resonated with the public as he expressed remorse for his words and provided some absolutely quotable comments.
Trump said, “We are one nation. When one state hurts, we all hurt- and we must all work together to lift each other up. Working. Building. Restoring together.” Sounds downright presidential, right?
The other significant step he took was in going to Louisiana. He worked with volunteers and provided food, clothing, toys and other items to those in need. Photo op? You bet. But it was proactive and showed Trump’s concern before Hillary or even President Obama did. He got there first, connected with those in need and challenged his opposition to do the same.
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump resonates with many and says the things they think…until he goes off the rails.
Here’s what we’d counsel:
Stay on message and listen to the really smart people who surround you and craft those messages for you.
Keep showing up in places like Louisiana, because wherever you go, the press follows and that means the people in Louisiana will stay on the collective radar screen. When you go, do good work. It may be seen by some as a photo op; however, to those on the ground, it will be authentic. They’ll remember this in November.
Keep sending your children out to speak on your behalf. A lot can be said about a father who raises amazing kids, and yours are smart, well-educated, and well-spoken. (But so is Chelsea.)
Doing all of the above can make the race a little more interesting come November; however, both sides have to prepare for the inevitable October surprise.
BOTTOM LINE: Up to the voters.
And then there’s Michael Phelps, the world’s most decorated Olympian of all time. Several years ago, Phelps came to Chattanooga about 30 days after the infamous ‘bong photo’. We were honored to spend some time with him while he was here. He was simply a very nice guy, who at the time, was struggling to manage his fame.
It got worse before it got better. He was arrested for DUI. He lost endorsements. Many said he was done. However, something pretty amazing happened as he checked into rehab. His long time friend former linebacker Ray Lewis gave Phelps a copy of the book “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. It changed his life as he emerged with a new commitment to healthy living and those he loved.
Phelps announced that his purpose was to come out of retirement and prove to the world (and himself) that he was still a great Olympian. His stellar performance both in and out of the pool changed his life. Endorsements? Check. Beautiful family? Check. Showing an amazingly humble attitude? Check.
Phelps announced his retirement; however, he also noted that he may not be done in the pool. His new purpose is to help stop the second leading cause of death in children under 14: drowning.
Here’s what we’d counsel:
Continue to be the poster child for the greatest turnaround ever. Reach out to others who could learn from your experience. Share the lessons you’ve learned and get ready for a very busy life. (Give Lochte a call, he could use a friend about now.)
Determine exactly what you want your future to become and surround yourself with the people who will support you in achieving it.
You are positioned to be the go-to guy for Tokyo in four years. Enjoy the status of ‘Senior Statesman’ for Olympians and kids around the world.
BOTTOM LINE: Life (and PR) lessons well learned.
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