Aug 08, 2012

PR and Social Media: An Olympic Lesson

At the time of this writing 218 of the 302 events have been completed with a select few athletes feeling the rush of fulfillment and accomplishment and many, many more the gut-wrenching pain of defeat. The AP reports that over 2.1 million people attended events through the first three days of the games and NBC’s online streaming service has experienced some rather serious issues because of the huge demand. All these facts and figures are painting a successful and efficient picture of the games, if it wasn’t for a few very sad events that, due to the interconnected nature of this year’s games as mentioned in my previous blog, have tainted the games a bit.

In the first part of this blog series, my blogs revolved around the how Social Media has taken a front row seat to the Olympic experience with the idea of engaging watchers & attendees, enhancing the experience and bringing the world closer to London. However, just like the many mistakes that companies and corporations make while trying to utilize the immense power and influence of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, so can individuals commit “social media suicide”. Just before the games began, the Olympic community was rocked by the Greek Olympic governing body’s decision to exclude a female athlete over a controversial tweet. To prevent further issues of the kind, the Hellenic Olympic Committee has banned all of its athletes from posting anything, anywhere online that does not concern their own person and performance at the games.

Then, just 5 days later, the Swiss men’s soccer team decided to expel a player because of a racist tweet. Michel Morganella went way further than his Greek counterpart and explicitly insulted and discriminated against the nation of South Korea. Sadly, stupid behavior like this doesn’t only live overseas. The immensely popular US women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo, known for her beautiful features and physique as much as her talent and performance on the field, recently met with team officials due to her trigger happy behavior on…you guessed it…Twitter. Solo was kicked off the team in 2007 because of similar criticism, that time the target was the national team coach Greg Ryan.

There is a very real lesson to be learned here. As discussed previously, individuals that are attending the games, watching the games or even performing in them, become reporters themselves. Thanks to social media’s global and instantaneous outreach, any little tweet and post immediately becomes global property, floating out there to be analyzed and re-analyzed with the scrutiny of hundreds of nations and cultures.

The main point to take away here is that before an individual or brand decides to use social media to engage the public for non-profit, professional or business related reasons, a serious crash course in public relations is probably a safe bet to place on the “must do list”.

Business world take heed, behold your new PR hub: social networking.


Contributed by , Marketing Coordinator