Do you miss the Olympics? I sure do, its a shock not to sit ont he couch with my bag of Sun Chips and not feel guilty. With the 2012 Olympic Games officially over, it’s time to recap the best and worse from a crisis communication perspective.
Social Media Games creates winners and losers: The
London Olympics was unofficially dubbed the first Social Media Games, as
social networks such as Twitter enabled athletes to chat directly with
their fans for the first time. As with anything new, there were some
hiccups, most notably when two athletes were expelled for racist tweets
and a teenager was arrested for threatening British diver Tom Daley on
Swimming star demonstrates importance of media training: American swimming star Ryan Lochte may not have excelled in media training—if he had any to begin with. He let it slide in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that he occasionally pees in the pool: “I mean, sometimes you just gotta go,” he said. His self-deprecating, and hilarious, viral video
on Will Ferrell’s funny or die comedy site seemed to take some of the
sting away from the incident, but clearly it was too much information.
In the words of British Prime Minister David Cameron, “It’s not OK to
pee in the pool.”
Same star continues to demonstrate the importance of media training: Not to pick on Lochte, but another video
is making the rounds highlighting his less than stellar interview
skills. The video is aptly titled “Ryan Lochte: Great At Swimming, Less
Great At Talking About Swimming.” The lowlight, when he answers “21” for
the question of “What is seven times four?”
Gymnast shows how to vault—and respond to a viral meme: U.S
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s now famous sneer after winning a
silver medal is an online sensation. It became fodder for a wildly
popular Tumblr account titled McKayla Maroney is not impressed. Instead of recoiling from the attention, Maroney embraced it. She tweeted her approval of the site, and shared an Instagram photo of her and her teammates striking the “not impressed” pose. The 16-year-old took a page from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s book on how to neutralize a viral meme.
Empty seats draw questions and controversy: Olympic
broadcasts at various venues showed empty seats—while there were reports
that no tickets were available and complaints by sports fans that they
couldn’t get into the venues. Some speculate that tickets were given to
corporate sponsors who never showed up. The lesson for Olympic brass is
to keep corporate sponsors happy by keeping the general public—their
Pop song becomes viral hit for swim team: The viral “Call Me Maybe”
video by the U.S. Swim Team set the stage for even more excitement
about the wildly popular team. It has millions of views, and a whopping
98.5 percent “likes” to “dislikes” on YouTube. Media all over the world
teased the wholesome video.
NBC takes its lumps for tape delay: Just about everyone
in the world expects to watch news in real time, a fact apparently lost
on NBC. The network teased its coverage over four hours every evening
when the events took place hours before. The approach worked for
advertisers, but not for audiences. A Gallup poll found that most Americans wanted NBC to air the Olympics live and
again on tape delay in prime time. The anger and annoyance from U.S.
viewers took shape on Twitter, with the popular hashtag #NBCfail, which
became as much a part of Olympic coverage as the Bob Costas sign off.
Newspaper takes it lumps for tough article: The New York Times got a lesson that some perspective (and compassion) is valuable. A Times reporter wrote
a piece attacking runner Lolo Jones as not being worthy of the
attention by the media or marketers. It prompted the Times’ public
editor to say the piece was “particularly harsh.”
Fighter offers half-baked explanation for doping: U.S.
judo fighter Nick Delpopolo may have a future in marketing for the
legalize marijuana contingent. He was kicked out of the games for
testing positive for marijuana use, saying he may have inadvertently
eaten food baked with marijuana.
Romney questions the U.K.’s readiness: British bashing
might play well any other time of the year, but during the Olympics it
might not be the right tact, as Republican presidential front-runner
Mitt Romney learned. Romney’s calling out security issues didn’t go over well,
and drew consternation from the Brits. Prime Minister from David
Cameron lashed back, saying “of course it’s easier if you hold an
Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” an apparent reference to Salt
Lake City Winter Olympics that Romney headed up.
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor. He heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.