What's Going on With Our Heroes?
No surprise. Like I am sure is happening in many companies today, the conversation is hot and heavy around Lance Armstrong’s interview this evening with Oprah Winfrey and the brewing controversy around Manti Te’o’s fictional/non-fictional girlfriend. Like most companies, opinions, humor and fascination abound at LPP. Which led to this blog.
“What’s going on with our 'heroes'?"
I still fondly remember the summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing the heralded Roger Maris home run record. While both ended up breaking the record, neither now look likely to get into the Hall of Fame.
Equally mesmerizing, is how someone can come back from cancer and not only just finish the
Tour de France, but win it not once, twice, or three times but seven times, and all in a row. Regardless if Armstrong was doping, that accomplishment is as much a team effort as an individual one and team tactics still play a large role in cycling.
Of course, if everyone, including Team US Postal/Discovery/UCI Pro Team and Team Radio Shack were doping then it’s a relatively level playing field. That’s not to say it was okay and would have been fine had Armstrong not been caught, but like many, my impression of Lance is significantly different than it was a few years ago when I was screaming at the TV when he finished ahead of his challengers each July.
But, the point is always, who do you believe, and is it time to stop looking for heroes in all the wrong places?
It’s not just about sports; it starts as early as childhood. Remember Pee Wee Herman (hugely talented) or more recently Kevin Clash (the guy so tightly associated with Elmo all these years) to name a few?
Beyond the pedestal on which we want our heroes to stand, what’s the lesson from a PR perspective or better yet, what is going on with journalism that helps prop and maintain many of these images? Sure, I’m not naïve enough to believe we don’t need heroes to sell newspapers, magazines and online content. However, I ran across the following story on Time World, focused on higher education in the UK.
Apparently the first version of the story was “too harsh” and had to be amended. Check out how many times. Thanks to the Twittersphere for shedding some light on this, as that was the first time I'd heard of it.
The rise of social, or as many are coining it, real-time media is reshaping perceptions not just about our heroes and short bursts of news, but in how we look at long-term and sustainable communications efforts. I, for one, hope that our need to tell stories that are interesting and compelling, actually has more than a few shreds of fact in them - and, in turn, helps educate us on current events. What seems to be missing at this point in time, is whether or not a story is real to begin with, and that leaves us questioning more than just who our heroes are.
What do you think?