Fresh eyes

Olympics PR lessons

Olympic Pr Lessons
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

And now onto Rio. What a 17 days. Success, excitement, inspiration and motivation. But it’s not just the sporting world that can take something from the Games. There are some valuable lessons for anyone working in PR and communications too. Here are my top five:

1. Offline and social media work in conjunction not in competition: It’s been interesting to see media consumption habits during the Olympics. TV, radio and print have all been very strong and done wonders to push the economic piece down the news agenda and create a nationwide feel good factor. Even the regionals have performed well. In our office, we’ve had people crouched over a radio, watching the TV and pinning up front covers of the Times. It’s a clear message that traditional channels are very much relevant. Social media offered a different outlet with athletes, pundits, fans and communities using these to communicate and engage. For any business thinking about traditional vs. new, think again. Think integration.

2. There’s nothing like a good event! The event is a trusty PR tool and a great one (if done well!) to showcase a brand, product or in this case a whole country. In the current economy, many companies are overlooking events in favour of perceived ‘cheaper’ digital communications. The Olympics has done wonders to showcase the UK to potential visitors and investors, raising awareness and enhancing our reputation. I think we’ve all learned something new about GB through the Olympics.

3. Preparation is everything: Our athletes showed the opportunities presented by good preparation. Cycling performance coach Dave Brailsford’s meticulous attention to detail is something we can all learn from. Perfect preparation can protect too. Think about the negativity at the start of the competition; the G4S saga, security concerns, empty seats. The LOCOG PR team responded well but a robust plan was in place to deal with every and any eventuality. Every organisation should prepare and have a crisis plan and commit to it rather than leaving it on a shelf. Seb Coe epitomised leadership in media interviews and wherever there were problems. Clear, dynamic, on the front foot. All possible because Team GB was prepared.

4. Protect your brand: I saw this first hand in Spinningfields, Manchester. Bars were refrained from displaying alcohol brand logos because their venues were in viewing distance of an Olympic screen. Having tight guidelines on use of a logo should be compulsory for all organisations to ensure consistency of visual brand representation and clarity of message.

5. Plan ahead: The dust is settling on a wonderful 17 days but what next? GB’s reputation is at an all time high but how do we capitalise on this? If an organisation puts on a high impact event, the follow up marketing communications plan is vital to maximise opportunities and ensure long-term success is realised.

Roll on 2016.

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