The Summer Olympics have wrapped up and there were lots of stories about the good, the bad and the just plain crazy stuff happening in Rio. Each of these stories reminds us that these athletes are human beings, just like us, each with a unique personal story and a reason for their journey.
It’s easy to forget how important personal stories are — but they help define us and how the world views us. Are you someone who overcame immense struggle to get to the games? Are you a collaborator, a practical doer or a fighter-against-all-odds? The answers to these questions create our public image, or persona.
But these images aren’t created in permanent ink — they can change quickly based on information available to the public. One minute, you can be a revered gold medalist and the next, you’re a “possibly victimized over-exaggerator” at best, and a liar and petty criminal at worst. Yep, we’re looking at you Ryan Lochte.
Since the “convenience store” incident, Lochte’s branding team has been in overdrive, trying to manage his image. He’s already lost endorsement deals and he’s sliding backwards on the reputation meter.
As a brand, endorsements are tricky because you never know when the “celebrity face” of your brand will fall out of favor. When this happens, brands need to move quickly — decide whether to stay or go. Rather than get tied up in the emotional turmoil of the situation, brands should evaluate whether or not the endorser’s image and reputation still reflect the brand’s desired image. Will your buyers be aware of, or impacted by, the endorser’s actions and align your brand persona with your endorser’s actions?
If yes, it’s completely fair for a brand to distance itself from a persona that no longer represents the brand’s desired image. Just do it quickly to limit fallout. While there’s no way to predict how an endorser’s public image might change over time, brands with endorsement deals should always have a crisis plan in place to deal with situations like the Lochte incident, so no matter what happens, you can focus on building your brand persona rather than fixing the damage done by a poor endorser.
Amy Fisher, APR
Passionate about Social Media? Help Serve Your Section
The PRSA Technology Section is seeking members interested in a volunteer position on the Executive Committee leading the Social Media subcommittee. This position is in charge of managing the Technology Section’s LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts, conversations and communities.
As a member of the Technology Section Executive Committee, you will serve with a team of volunteer professionals representing PR agencies, corporations, nonprofits and educational organizations. Being involved is a great way to make connections and can lead to a number of opportunities including meeting new friends, discovering new career and business possibilities, and staying on top of the ever-changing public relations industry.
If you are interested or have any questions about joining the Executive Committee as the lead for the Social Media subcommittee, please email Alyssa Eggum, PRSA Technology Section chair: firstname.lastname@example.org.