Hide

  • The Communicators Cover Image
    Leadership in the age of Crisis Read More
  • Stop the Presses cover
    The Crisis and Litigation PR Desk Reference Read More
  • LEVICK Monthly
    The Latest News, Interviews and Perspectives Read More
  • Making Your Point cover
    Communicating Effectively with Audiences of One to One Million Read More
  • 365 Marketing Meditations cover
    Daily Lessons for Marketing and Communications Professionals Read More
  • Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping With Crisis in Business, Politics and Life
    Five Rules for Coping With Crisis in Business, Politics and Life Read More
  • Scandal: How "Gotcha" Politics Is Destroying America
    Scandal: How “Gotcha” Politics is DESTROYING America Read More
  • Truth To Tell: Tell It Early, Tell It Yourself: Notes From My White House Education
    Truth To Tell: Tell It Early, Tell It Yourself: Notes From My White House Education Read More
  • Inside Outside cover
    How Businesses Buy Legal Services Read More

Levick Daily. Thoughts. Perspectives. Insights.

Crisis

Has Michael Phelps' Reputation Gone Up in Smoke?

0

As Michael Phelps is learning the hard way, even Olympic Gold can quickly lose its luster in the midst of a reputational crisis. With tens of millions of dollars in endorsements at stake, one of the greatest athletes of this generation must now swim upstream against the growing perception among parents that he may not be the best role model for their children.

The jury’s still out as to whether getting caught on camera smoking marijuana is going to sink Phelps’ celebrity spokesperson potential before it’s ever fully realized. But he would be well advised to take some immediate crisis communications steps to salvage his reputation – and future endorsements. I outlined those steps in an interview on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike show yesterday morning.

First and foremost, Phelps has to avoid looking like he’s being handled. News of his agents’ attempts to cover-up the embarrassing episode by bribing British tabloid newspaper reporters was bad enough. Now, he risks appearing even more disingenuous if his public statements and appearances continue to look like they were written and choreographed by a team of lawyers.

Second, he needs to consider creating an ““Oprah moment” – an opportunity to go on the record, without the help of handlers, and deliver messages of repentance and redemption before the audiences that matter most: the parents of young swimmers around the country who drive their children to practices and swim meets. A single appearance on Oprah, Larry King, or The View – where he can present himself as the wholesome boy-next-door that he is – could do the trick.

Third, he needs to get back to being recognized for being the hard-working, talented, likeable young man that he is by allowing news photographers to attend one of his grueling workouts and having a coach at the pool’s edge attest to his work ethic with the news media.

Phelps needs to take charge and apply the same determination and dedication to restoring his reputation that he used to drive to the top of his competitive field. But he can’t just tread water passively and allow his reputation to go up in smoke.

Click here toí‚  listen toí‚  the full interview with Mike and Mike.
í‚  

Bookmark and Share

Add new comment

Gene Grabowski, Senior Strategist
Senior Strategist

Gene Grabowski is a leading authority on crisis and litigation communications and issues management. He is a distinguished counselor and former journalist with a reputation for creating and...