Thursday, October 18, 2012
PR practitioners talked constantly about reputation, the need to build it and most importantly, protect it. Sometimes it is difficult to point to the results of a lost reputation but the case of Lance Armstrong is textbook. Here is an athlete whose arc has been stunning in both rise and fall. From a near death sentence from cancer, he went on to be the most famous of bicycle riders. Then, the whispers began and open accusations that he had cheated his way to the top. His sponsors stood by him until yesterday but now Nike has dropped him, and he has resigned from the chairmanship of Livestrong, his charity. There is still farther to drop. Other sponsors are reconsidering their support, and there is a good chance he will end a pariah whether or not he is taken to court. There is a chance that all of his good work will go with him into disgrace. Was it worth risking his reputation and livelihood? Only Armstrong can answer that for himself but to an outside observer, placing personal reputation into such danger looks foolhardy at best. Still, other athletes are doing it and will do it in their rush to reach the top. They seem to believe that it will "never happen to me."