Can Sha’Carri Richardson repair the damage to her brand? Lessons on PR Damage Control

Let’s analyze the chances of Dallas-based American track star Sha’Carri Richardson to be able to repair her marketable brand after a rocky summer…

This summer has been rather interesting for the young American track star Sha’Carri Richardson. From the weed smoking scandal before the Olympics, to the very notable loss on the track to fearsome Jamaican sprinters, coupled with trash talking not only towards them, but also to the very likable American track and field legend Allyson Felix, it’s safe to say the image and brand of Sha’Carri took a massive hit. As I say in my business videos, image is everything, and for pro athletes, that brand is what they will need long after they hang up the shoes of their sport for good.

Business is war, and if you give your enemies a chance to target your brand in sports and entertainment, they will seize the opportunity to take your bag. This is the mistake Sha’Carri is making right now. Another mistake is to not get a public relations agent to help protect her brand. At a minimum, get a successful, business minded person like myself to help with a management strategy, which would include temporarily filling in to advise on brand marketing and public relations strategy until a permanent PR pro is brought on board. Hey, Sha’Carri. I’m also in the Dallas area if you need some kind of short term business advice to hold you over until you get the PR help you need.

To all athletes everywhere who are on the verge of great things, seek out a business savvy person sooner rather than later.

Ok, let’s dig into Sha’Carri’s PR problem that needs damage control, before her brand is permanently irreparably harmed. The Olympics is not just a series of sports, but a global marketable brand. Every Olympic athlete has their own unique brand that feeds off the Olympic brand. In turn, the Olympic brand feeds off the brands of each athlete. When all the press is positive, they both benefit. But when the press is negative, they both suffer. This is part of the reason the International Olympic Committee, and the committees of each country, have rules in place to protect that brand from being tarnished.

Whether you agree or disagree, smoking marijuana is still deemed as negative among many, though public acceptance has increased in recent years. Not willing to take a chance, the IOC still has rules against smoking weed on the books. So when Sha’Carri disobeyed this rule, her image suffered a big hit, but the IOC hardly suffered at all, because they were swift to enforce the rule, and the public accepted that.  It was good for her brand that Sha’Carri did apologize, but then she went on to speak in a cocky way about her skills, which cost her brand some points, and many thought her ego took away attention from other athletes who followed the rules.

From a PR damage control standpoint, she should have left the apology where it stoods and stayed off social medias if she is addicted to outbursts. She still has Nike on her side, so what’s the point of talking trash following an apology?

Switching to the public relations catastrophe at the much anticipated Prefontaine Classic track race in Eugene, Oregon, this was a crossroads moment for Sha’Carri to win big, silence the critics, improve her public image, and most importantly, add more positive points to her brand scorecard, so she can then win more endorsements. Did that best case scenario happen? Ummm…no! Not at all. In fact, the exact opposite happened. After all the Olympic trash talking about being the greatest, she failed spectacularly to back up those claims. This is not to cast any negative light at all as I wanted her to win, given her ties to Dallas, but from a public relations standpoint, the loss alone cost some big points against her brand. In addition, instead of being humble and gracious following the loss, she did even more trash talking. This also deducts points from her brand.

In sports, the best way to improve your brand is to let your actions speak louder than words. This business principle applies to everything. By talking trash, she gave her enemies even more fuel to damage her brand. But to top it all off, she delivered a near deadly blow to her own brand by saying negative things in response to very positive words from the venerable and decorated American track star Allyson Felix. Regardless if there is any bad blood between them behind the scenes, Sha’Carri missed a golden opportunity to add a bunch of positive points to her brand. In other words, Allyson basically handed Sha’Carri a PR gift, that could have kept on giving had Sha’Carri humbled herself and thought about it strategically. Allyson has enormous goodwill with the public, and that major respect translates into an excellent PR rating. By saying something positive about Sha’Carri, Sha’Carri could have borrowed from that goodwill to boost her own brand. But her arrogance got the better of her, and she mishandled that opportunity just like she did in Eugene, Oregon.

So now, Sha’Carri is at a crossroads. If she continues to do further damage, she may not be able to repair her brand. If she chooses to go down the path of being a bad girl of sport, she should follow the lead of the godfather of bad boy sports PR, Dennis Rodman. Won’t have time to go into much detail about him, so Google him. But he translated his bad boy reputation from his NBA days in Detroit and Chicago into championship rings, and the ability to appeal to the sympathy of the public in such a way that it made him eerily likely and humorous. His positive PR points outweighed his negative PR points, which is why he managed to stay successful in the public eye. I advise Sha’Carri to do the same thing. I wish her well, and my invite for management consultation still stands if she can’t find help. She’s only 21, so she can still recover with the right guidance. Until the next video, my business warriors. War and peace.

Sha’Carri Richardson explains failed drug test on ‘Today’ show: ‘Don’t judge me, because I am human’ | Sporting News
https://www.sportingnews.com/us/athletics/news/shacarri-richardson-today-show/1l8ea59ojhn0u1axknfoqgps37

What happened to Sha’Carri Richardson? Explaining the runner’s Olympic weed ban controversy | Sporting News
https://www.sportingnews.com/us/athletics/news/shacarri-richardson-olympics-runner-weed/12f4cgokp9faq1uqnbylnsl2to

Sha’Carri Richardson Thanks Supporters After Suspension (buzzfeed.com)
https://www.buzzfeed.com/natalieoganesyan/shacarri-richardson-thanks-supporters-olympics-suspension

Sha’Carri Richardson appears to throw shade at Allyson Felix (nypost.com)
https://nypost.com/2021/08/25/shacarri-richardson-appears-to-throw-shade-at-allyson-felix/

Sha’Carri Richardson’s Eugene flop suggests a case of too much too soon | Athletics | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/aug/27/shacarri-richardson-career-eugene-elaine-thompson

Nicki Minaj Reacts To Sha’Carri Richardson Loss To Jamaicans In Return To Track After Marijuana Scandal – AllHipHop
https://allhiphop.com/news/nicki-minaj-shacarri-richardson-100m-loss/

Sha’Carri Richardson finishes disappointing last in Prefontaine Classic 100 meters – The Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2021/08/21/shacarri-richardson-prefontaine-classic-womens-sprint/

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