We are more than half-way through the world spectacle of the Olympics and here at the Olson office, we are just as excited as we were on day one. We’ve rooted for Team USA and taken in the excitement of winning, but we’ve also learned a few PR lessons along the way that can beneficial not just in the pool or on the track, but also in the office.
Crisis communications is something that keeps every PR pro up at night. The quick need to respond to a client gaffe or situation is a necessary skill in the field. NBC has seen its fair share of coverage blunders and the viewers have not been pleased, even expressing their displeasure on Twitter with the hashtag #NBCFail. From showing promos that announce the winner of an unaired competition to showing a majority of only American-centric highlights, the list of what many see as sub-par reporting goes on…
A sympathetic apology to viewers was called for, but all the audience got was a NBC Sports Chairman who saw nothing wrong with the coverage. Bottom line: be sure to have a plan A, B, and C, ready to combat any negative Reponses to your client or campaign.
Good Stories Reach an Audience
What would the Olympics be without some heart-wrenching back stories of some gold-winning athletes? One thing they wouldn’t be: nearly as interesting. This applies to PR as well. Put a face to every story for an increase in coverage. People relate to people, not companies, just like people relate to athletes with stories.
Train for Interviews
We’ve watched Ryan Lochte (and his abs) compete against Michael Phelps and win gold. He’s an expert in competitive swimming, but when it comes to his interviews, he has some things to learn. His weird answers and cocky attitude have been the talk of the town, even overshadowing his competitions. Remember that a little media coaching can go a long way. If you have a client in the spotlight, take the time to practice with them, keeping their responses simple and direct if at all possible. While there may be no stupid questions, there certainly can be some stupid answers…do your best to help your client avoid a cringe-worthy Lochte-esque moment.
Social Media is Permanent
Social media can either be a PR pro’s friend or foe. Post a great tweet or status and it can be seen by millions. Post something offensive or inaccurate and you’re the laughing stock of the media world. Even if you delete a post, it is still immortalized for eternity in screen caps. The lesson here is be careful what you post. Some Olympians have yet to learn this lesson: A Greek triple jumper was thrown out of the games for posting a racist tweet, as was a Swiss soccer player. Soccer darling Hope Solo also was criticized for her tweet war with Brandi Chastain. We know emotions can run high, especially when the hopes of a country are on your shoulders, but be sure to help clients (and yourself) keep a level head before 140 characters can have you both losing business.