As PR experts we specialize in reality. Our job is take reality and put it into a context that works best for clients. The very first, and oftentimes the most difficult step, is to convince clients to accept reality. This can be a daunting challenge.
Judging from NBC’s commercials promoting the Tour de France, reality is something they have yet to face. Lance Armstrong happened. You can’t ignore him or the decade of controversy and scandal that resulted from his horrible behavior and the sport’s inability to regulate itself and maintain even a semblance of sportsmanship. Sure, today all professional sports are tainted in one way or another, but Lance Armstrong was a disaster for the Tour de France and the sport of cycling.
In order to move on the sport, the tournament and NBC must address the Lance Armstrong issue. It is still at the forefront of the public’s consciousness and any mental images we conjure of the Tour de France involve Lance Armstrong. You can’t ignore reality. In public relations, when you ignore reality you’re giving it power. Acting like nothing happened is what guilty people do. The public knows what you’re up to, because we were there for the Lance Armstrong debacle. We were part of it.
So NBC and the Tour de France should start there: in reality. Acknowledge what happened and build a vision for moving forward. Start all over. Elevate the people in the sport who don’t cheat and give them a platform, even if they are less than spectacular. The public doesn’t want a superhero; it wants something real—a person we can all relate to. And it wants the Tour de France to come clean.
Lance Armstrong tried to hide his drug use. Now the Tour de France is trying to hide Lance Armstrong. But the public knows better. The commercial above showcases the history of the Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong is part of that history.
History is an important part of reality.