Melky Cabrera, owner of the NL’s second-highest batting average and the All-Star Game MVP, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.
He, like his predecessors busted for PED use before him, now face a huge brand crisis, and unfortunately, neither Cabrera or his team was prepared for this black eye.
The best defense for a devastating brand hit such as this is a preemptive one.
Prominent athletes connected with their fans through social channels – Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, an official website – have build a cache of trust and report with their community.
Think about it?
When you hear that someone you know, like, trust and respect got busted for a DUI, you’re more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was a mistake or an overzealous police officer, and not a case of a thoughtless prick being irresponsible.
However, when you hear about a celebrate or a co-worker whom you don’t know getting popped for a DUI, you don’t have that built-up trust to fall back on, and you’re much more likely to assume the worse.
Cabrera falls into that latter category. He’s conspicuously absent from every corner of the Internet.
Sure, there are plenty of articles and information about Cabrera out there, but nothing that personally is managed by Cabrera or his team.
On the other hand, if you look at an athlete like Curtis Granderson, you’ll see the difference.
Granderson, who is very active on Twitter, Facebook and maintains an official website, is in a much better position to handle a brand crisis such as this by taking to his Internet channels and explaining his side of the story directly to his fans.
Kudos to Matt Brown, Granderson’s agent who saw the value of Social Media and digital branding years ago.
Sam and Seth Levinson of Athletes’ Career Enhanced and Secured Inc. represent Cabrera and have a lot of catchup to do.
The brothers who co-own ACEs are two of the most powerful agents in Major League Baseball, but the pair needs to embrace the Internet.
Much like Cabrera, the Levinsons are vapor online. I couldn’t even find an easily accessible website for them or ACEs.
Cabrera and the Levinsons must act quickly. Get Cabrera on a level playing field with his fans. Allow him to explain his side of the story to them directly – not through ESPN, Fox or any other intermediary.
The Levinsons should then future-proof themselves by getting all their clients up to speed and build their digital brands. In fact, the Levinsons should offer digital branding as part of their standard service to their clients.
The silence is deafening.