Yes, an organization can withstand a PR hit when a crisis happens. Just ask the people at LiveStrong.
Since 1997, LiveStrong has been working to improve the lives of those affected by cancer and has become the largest athlete charity in the world.
In the wake of company founder Lance Armstrong being banned for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on August 24, the foundation has avoided a negative backlash. In fact, it’s kicked into high gear, according to a report by USA Today, with donations increasing from a $3,200 daily average to a reported $80,000 on the day the Armstrong news broke.
What was clearly negative news for Armstrong personally, has surprisingly turned into an opportunity for LiveStrong to gain more national attention, avoid a PR hit and use it to its advantage.
In a situation where you have a popular figure like Armstrong take a downfall, LiveStrong simply chose to stand by its brand and behind Armstrong. For the past 15 years, Armstrong has been a tireless advocate for cancer fundraising and research, and as a survivor himself, his commitment to the cause keeps his popularity intact, which undoubtedly helped LiveStrong maintain its credibility in the midst of Armstrong’s personal crisis.
“Although traditional media is making the USADA-Armstrong doping issue seem like the Lance Armstrong Foundation has a PR crisis on their hands, we’d argue that they do not have a crisis at all,” says Kimling Lam, director, marketing communications, the Meltwater Group. “In fact, they may even have an opportunity to reach key audiences who would support the foundation.”
Not only has LiveStrong avoided any kind of PR hit, it appears that the business support for Armstrong individually has not wavered either. ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell reports that many endorsers including Nike, Oakley and Anheuser-Busch are standing in support of Armstrong. While Armstrong has not lost any current deals, any endorsements in the works may be put on hold.
By relying on a wealth of goodwill built over the years, sticking by its leader, responding in support on its own Web site and social media outlets, LiveStrong showed that, in what is perceived as a crisis, organizations can survive and come out even stronger than before.
Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson