2013 PR People Awards: Image Turnaround Leader of the Year

Winners:  Katherine McLane, Vice President, Communications and External Affairs,  and Rae Bazzarre, Director, Communications and External Affairs, LIVESTRONG Foundation

Few communications professionals face the kind of scandal that has surrounded Lance Armstrong over the past year, and it fell to the two-person team of Katherine McLane and Rae Bazzarre to help his renowned foundation weather the crisis. With every new development in the cycling scandal, the media turned to the foundation for its reaction, even after Armstrong stepped down as chairman. Through the team’s adroit handling, LIVESTRONG succeeded in conveying two messages: first, that its doors would remain open for cancer patients who rely on its free services, and second, that it had been disappointed and misled along with the rest of the world.

Rather than trying to keep a low profile, which was not an option, McLane and Bazzarre began a rebranding effort that included an official name change (from The Lance Armstrong Foundation to the LIVESTRONG Foundation), upgrades to all public-facing and marketing materials, and a campaign to solicit support from the foundation’s stakeholders. The results broke its short-term development records.

The team received six days’ notice of Armstrong’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey, and used the time to create talking points and schedules for national news programs, to book the foundation’s CEO on the Today Show and National Public Radio, and to issue statements right before and right after the confessional interview. The foundation also responded to all interview and information requests throughout the crisis.  As a result of these and other efforts, LIVESTRONG remains a viable and even thriving organization.

Honorable Mention:

  • Christina Pretto, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, AIG