In the U.S. the art and science of reputation management are well-paid activities. Public relations pros specializing in the specific niche of reputation restoration can make $1,000 an hour, just like brandname lawyers such as David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner allegedly makes.
One might assume that public relations agency Edelman is billing at a high rate to represent Peter Lanza, father of the Newtown, Connecticut killer Adam Lanza and VP-Tax at GE. The pro on the front lines, reports Kevin McCauley at Odwyerpr.com, is Edelman VP Errol Cockfield, Jr. who had been the spokesperson for both former New York Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Edelman also represents Lanza's employer GE.
Another major account and future case study could be restoring the reputation of former bicycle racing champion Lance Armstrong. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports, and other media such as THE NEW YORK POST have run with the story, Armstrong could be considering the now-common rite of passage of admitting one's wrong, making amends or attempting to right the wrong through good deeds, and then rebuilding a career on another platform.
Americans ranging from the late Watergate miscreant Chuck Colson to former equity analyst who had a cloud over his head Henry Blodget have put together wildly successful Nexts. Colson traveled the path of evangelist preacher and Bloget became a digital entrepreneur whose BUSINESS INSIDER is thriving in funding and popularity.
If Armstrong makes a public announcement that he did indeed engage in doping, he is taking legal risks. For example, there is the whistleblower lawsuit by Floyd Landis. Could government powers that be demand criminal and civil penalites be imposed? Armstrong is represented by legal counsel Tim Herman.
However, once Armstrong clears those hurdles he could do just about anything he wants in terms of a fresh career journey. The team of communications experts who handle this assignment could well be presenting the case study at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2014.
As those of us who have tumbled into black holes know, it's never what happens, it's how we handle it. Those representing Armstrong could handle that in ways that have nothing to do with the bike. Put that in the storage shed of symbols that had had a good run and then are retired.