5 Tips From A Public Relations Pro To Get USA Swimmers Out Of Hot Water
Ryan Lochte spends a lot of time in the water, and now he’s in hot water due to an incident at the Rio Olympics.
He and other Team USA swimmers went out on the town, had drinks, got trashed and – according to reports – trashed a bathroom when they had a cab driver pull over because they needed to pee.
Supposedly they were drunk and the security guard pulled a gun on them telling them they needed to pay for the damages.
Well the damages have gone well beyond the bathroom and are now focused on Lochte’s and the other swimmers’ behavior. Lochte at first claimed they were robbed, then said they were not, and as a result of tying to squirm his way out of it, has launched lawyers and PR people into “crisis communication” to deal with it.
But there’s a simple solution that will end things quickly; otherwise, it will escalate and become a bigger story than winning medals. I’m a PR pro and here’s my advice for 5 things Lochte and his teammates should do to end this thing before it gets more out of control.
1.) Admit You Are Guilty. Come clean. It’s as easy as that; say you all were inebriated (don’t use the word “drunk”) and acted foolishly. People will forgive someone for having a stupid moment a lot quicker than they will someone who tries to lie and cover up their actions.
2.) Apologize. Yes, apologize. Do it to Olympic officials, the security guard, USA Swimming and the American people. And don’t hide behind social media; do in in front of the media, then actually sit down and write the officials and security guard all letters.
3.) Go On The Today Show. NBC, which telecasts the Games, is the perfect platform to do the two above things and to get the message out to the masses. Tell what happened in a basic sense –we went to a club, asked the cab driver to pull over and got needlessly wild in the bathroom, were approached and handled the rest of the situation poorly, whatever was the case – and say you were all wrong.
4.) Pay For The Damages. The best way to sooth this over with Brazilian authorities is to pay for what you destroyed. I would even take it one step further and actually go back to Rio and help make the repairs.
5.) Tell Others This Is No Way For An Olympian To Act. Swimmers are among the nicest, most polite athletes in sports. But with this move, you all come across as a bunch of privileged jerks. In the Today Show and any subsequent interviews, make it clear that this is unacceptable behavior for any athlete at any event, especially for an Olympian. Hammer home this point time and time again.
Finally, don’t do any silly or sarcastic posts on social media. Use it only to apologize. Then disappear for a while and behave yourselves in public!