What’s happening to Roger Clemens is a Public Relations teaching opportunity.
Clemens has been indicted on lying before Congress.
The seven-time Cy Young award-winner was the most dominating pitcher of the steroid era in baseball. That goes to figure, because his former trainer Brian McNamee said the star player took steroids. Even good friend and former teammate Andy Pettite, who has admitted taking steroids, has confirmed Clemens said he took steroids.
So what does all of this have to do with Public Relations?
Try Rule One of crisis PR: Tell the truth.
My 13-year-old son loves baseball. He plays it every day and lives the game.
Recently, I heard him debating with his friends who the best players of all time might be. When talk turned to Roger Clemens, my son could not figure out what the fuss is all about.
“Everybody knows he took steroids,” my son said. “He should just tell the truth and move on.’’
Great point. When stuck in bad public relations situations, it is paramount to tell the truth as quickly as possible and move on.
But the trouble Clemens faces is not that he is accused of telling a fib to friends, or even a member of the media. The Texas flamethrower is accused of lying to Congress. So now the full force of a federal investigation is bearing down on him.
Clemens proclaims that he never took performance-enhancing drugs. But we have heard that story many times from athletes who later admitted they lied.
The fan in me still hopes that Clemens is being honest. The PR person in me wishes everyone would learn to tell the truth from the beginning.
We’ll see how this plays out. No matter what happens, Clemens’ All-American reputation will never be the same.