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Even the Bra(u)ny Guy Can’t Clean Up This Mess
By: Mike Bush
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Major League Baseball (gleefully) announced a suspension for one of its biggest stars, Ryan Braun, for using banned substances (read: Steroids). Braun will miss the entirety of the rest of the 2013 season, a total of 65 games, and will forfeit his salary for those games (over $2 million). That, of course, doesn’t count the endorsement money he will lose.
Ryan Braun, incidentally, is the only player who has tested positive for steroids, appealed, and gotten a suspension overturned. By demonstrating an abnormality in the way his original positives test was handled, Braun’s attorneys were able to convince an arbitrator that the positive test shouldn’t count.
Once this happened, Braun and his PR folks came to a fork in the road.
Behind door number 1, the option was simple. Braun could have realized how close he was to getting caught, and then kept his nose clean and his mouth shut. A simple press statement about how happy he is to have the matter resolved would suffice. Note: If Braun was guilty but got away with it on a technicality, this is the option he should have chosen.
Instead, he chose option 2, which we’ll call the “Palmeiro.” The “Palmeiro” is to assume a bold position, and declare your innocence. The move is named for Rafael Palmeiro, who defiantly sat in front of Congress, pointed his finger, and exclaimed “Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."
The “Palmeiro” is great…if you’re innocent.
Unfortunately for Braun, the maneuver didn’t work, because, like Rafael Palmeiro, he wasn’t innocent.
Since agreeing to the suspension, Braun has been called selfish, a liar, a scoundrel, and many, many other names. Anonymous sources throughout baseball, including front-office executives and players, have offered the media a huge array of background information about how Braun is a truly terrible person. Jeff Passon at Yahoo! Sports even wrote the inside-baseball* story about how Braun’s PR folks tried to railroad the person who (allegedly) messed up the first positive test.
We’ve seen that baseball (and its fans) is willing to forgive. Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi came out, admitted they cheated, and apologized. Both are still playing and regularly receiving fan support. However, fans and media won’t support a liar.
From a PR perspective, when we have to face a crisis for our clients, the lesson here is pretty obvious: If you’re going to use a “Palmeiro,” you need to be absolutely certain of innocence.
*Sorry for the pun.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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