Tiger Woods is picked to win the US Open, according to CBS sports bloggers. Billboard charts prove that Britney Spears is releasing hits again for the first time in nearly a decade. Both overcame embarrassing personal catastrophes to get back to the top of their game. But what about the rest of us, who have to handle our own PR? For starters, you can push the negative press down by searching for your name online, buying your own domain and building your presence on social media. If you need a little more help wiping your slate clean, sites like Reputation.com protect and improve individuals’ and businesses’ online reputations by creating, optimizing and monitoring your online information. Imitate the stars to recover from a PR flub:

Bill Clinton

Making_ComebackYou’d think a cheating scandal and impeachment might hurt a president’s popularity, but that wasn’t the case for Bill Clinton. Despite a few hiccups, the president still scored an overall approval rating of 55.1, beating out Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman, according to Gallup.com. And when he left the oval office, Clinton didn’t stop making an impact; he’s written several books, helped his wife get elected to public office and made millions through speaking engagements. How? He had great results. During the Clinton/Gore administration, according to a U.S. Government record of progress, the average American experienced:

  • Four percent unemployment, the lowest in three decades
  • The longest continual drop in crime on record
  • Three new credits contributing to low federal income tax burdens
  • The appointment of the first female attorney general and secretary of state

Many Americans had reason to be glad Clinton was in office, regardless of the state of his marriage. In the end, people care more about what you do for them than what you do behind closed doors. As a bonus, his continued relationship with Hilary has made many dismiss the old scandal.

Charlie Sheen

In 2011, Sheen was placed in a situation that is familiar to many of us — he was abruptly fired. His ensuing meltdown, however, reached epic proportions; highlights included claims of having “tiger blood” and characterizing his post-“Two and a Half Men” breakdown as “winning.” In raging against the shows producers, however, he only made their claims that he was too unstable to work with seem increasingly valid.

The lesson here is two-fold. First, speaking negatively about an employer ultimately does the most damage to your own reputation. Second, Charlie Sheen’s ability to laugh at himself gave the public a way to relate. Since a roast in 2011 — the highest rated in Comedy Central history, according to “TV By The Numbers” — IMDB shows roles in five films. He also starred in a self-effacing comedy series appropriately titled “Anger Management.” Embracing his meltdown actually created career opportunities, a model you can follow when laughing at your own mistakes.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of his Tour de France titles and an Olympic medal after confessing to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Responses from the well-known cyclist were short on excuses and long on regrets. He kept the media attention to a minimum and in an interview with Oprah he expressed remorse about the loss of both his charity and the trust of his son. The apology has softened the public’s perception of him, but sponsors and the athletic associations that decide whether he can compete again remain tight-lipped.

The takeaway? Sometimes all you can do is put forth a sincere apology, work to better yourself, and wait for the storm to pass. Ultimately your accomplishments hold more lasting attention than your mistakes.

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