From a PR perspective, I think Lance is going about this all wrong. For starters, I think he needed to let a lot more time go by before starting his “redemption tour.” Considering the circumstances, I think he should have faded from the limelight and gone dark for about a year. The confession hasn’t aired yet and already the narrative strikes me as wrong. It doesn’t appear to be about genuine contrition for what he’s done, the lies he’s told or the people he has hurt. It seems to be more about Lance wanting to resume his triathlon career — sooner, rather than later.
Ironically, it’s his ego that has got him into this mess and I think it’s his ego that is going to cause things to backfire even more. If this confession is viewed as self-serving — a perception that already is reflected in early reporting of this story — the American people will see right through it and he will not be accorded the forgiveness he so desperately seems to seek.
As a sidenote, the narrative thus far seems to be due in large part to controlled media leaks out of the Armstrong camp. I think this is an example of leaks — even those that are carefully “managed” — adding further fuel to the fire.
All of the above being said, I am personally happy to see Lance come clean. His denials were starting to border on the absurd and with this confession, the beautiful sport of cycling can finally start to restore itself.
People will feel how they will about Lance, regardless of what he said to Oprah. I suspect most people, for the foreseeable future at least, will perceive him in a negative light. He has brought this upon himself and it’s his burden to carry.
But on a personal level, I wish folks would back off of the Livestrong Foundation. By all appearances, they do not seem to have done anything wrong and they’ve taken the important step (months ago) of disassociating themselves from Lance. They’d be wise to stay completely out of the fray and focus their efforts these next few weeks singularly on their mission, which is to help improve the lives of people affected by cancer.
Livestrong is a solid organization that’s doing noble work and they have done a lot for many cancer survivors – myself included. It would be a real shame to see them go down with this sinking ship.
Howard Solomon is managing partner at Finn Partners.