The Olympics. You. Communications Rule #1 applies to both.
Except for the size of the stage, the International Olympic Committee and our school teams face the same challenges in marketing, promotions, media relations, and getting a positive message out.
It all boils down to Rule #1.
You know this rule well. Better than most.
It’s so ingrained in your modus operandi that you may not have thought about it lately.
But it’s front and center in Russia — and it reminds us how often we deal with it here.
Rule #1 is simple this: Bad news attracts more interest and travels more rapidly than good news.
The reporters and media members I know are intelligent and decent individuals, but when standing at this crossroad, I can’t think of one who wouldn’t veer left at luge-like velocity without thinking twice.
Whatever the Olympic success stories of athletes, coaches, and personal sacrifices… whatever our district’s success stories of students, teachers, and 21st century transformation… an isolated safety breach or minor scandal can dominate them all.
The media’s chase after crisis, controversy, and confrontation may not be fair.
But it’s the way it is.
And luckily, we already know this.
We don’t have to wonder about what’s going on.
We’ve got it. We can anticipate what’s ahead.
When photos like this of the drinking water found in Sochi hotels are tweeted out, we know from our own experience, the extent of the PR catastrophe that is taking place. (Then we’re grateful this photo wasn’t taken in our high school cafeteria!)
And when reporters “crowdsource” their negative experiences into a larger article like this, the best most of us can say is, “Oh, my.”
We can’t help it.
It’s a communicators nightmare.
We know that perceptions are being shaped.
We know the importance of every “first impression” and how relationships are strengthened or smashed based upon their outcomes.
And to our credit, we also know the value of keeping the long-term view in sight.
As important as that “first impression” is, it’s rarely as critical as the “last impression.”
The Sochi Winter Olympics has obviously struggled with its “first impression.”
Sometimes so do we.
But time is a precious resource.
Our ability to re-focus and re-do depends on using it well.
It’s what we need to create a critical and memorable “last impression.”
And that’s how we deal with Rule #1.
We look forward, make adjustments, and keep going.
We’ll now see if the planners in Russia will do the same… or even if they’re allowed to.
So, in keeping with the Olympics theme this week, there will be three communication topics waiting for you on the starting line tomorrow.
And being speedy-kwik will be a definite plus.
This isn’t good, in that, I didn’t ever get serious about the intensive training regimen designed to personally help me become speedy-kwik.
I can’t believe the Olympics are here and I’m not any closer to being in tip-top shape.
Dang! You might be tomorrow’s gold medal winner after all!