Oh, Ryan Lochte, what were you thinking?


By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

That is what I would ask the Olympic swimming star if I met him. I have no idea who thought that giving Lochte his own reality show (What Would Ryan Lochte Do? which airs on E!) was a good idea, but it has to be one of the worst decisions…ever.

The show got plenty of attention ahead of its debut. Lochte made several public appearances and did a lot of interviews, but on premier night, the show tanked in the ratings. This makes me think that no one was ever really interested in the show. They were more interested in watching the train wreck that happened each time Lochte did an interview to promote the show. Here is one that went viral to give you some perspective:

So what does this mean from a public relations perspective? Some experts have said that Lochte’s exposure to the public – positive or negative – has been good for the sport of swimming. Others have said that it just makes him look like an idiot and that more people now associate Lochte with his foolish and awkward interviews rather than being a gold medal Olympic swimmer. From my perspective one thing is true: he is just a mess.

But, the truth is that he is getting buzz. Good or bad, it’s buzz. The Lochte name is alive and well, and the next Olymics is still three years away. But the question remains if we will see any back peddling or a more interview savvy Lochte in the future. If his show had been an immediate success, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. But now that the show doesn’t seem to be as successful as originally hoped, I’m wondering if the not-so-favorable media attention will have Lochte wishing he would have approached things differently.

Let me ask you this: Is there still hope for Lochte after all of this? Do you think he can reinvent himself to save face? Should he?