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5 things Team GB’s success can teach you about how to avoid a PR crisis

It might seem a little artificial to draw parallels between good crisis PR management and Team GB’s brilliant performance in the Olympics, but no – there really are lessons to be learned.   And we’re not just saying that because it gives us an excuse to watch sport on the TV.  Honestly!

The transformation of Team GB’s fortunes from the embarrassment of one gold medal at the Atlanta Games just 20 years ago to the spirit-lifting gold rushes of London 2012 and now Rio is a masterclass in strategic management.

Among the many lessons that organisations can learn from this success are insights into how to avoid reputational setbacks.  In particular:

  1. Plan ahead. Every successful athlete has a ‘game plan’.  Businesses wanting to avoid PR disasters must follow suit and create bespoke crisis plans, promoting understanding of them throughout the organisation.
  2. Pay attention to detail. Successful athletes are almost superhumanly obsessive.  To avoid PR crises, businesses should be similarly relentless and:
  • Focus unremittingly on service quality and the customer.
  • Not overlook red flags.
  • Be constantly self-critical.
  • Devour information about organisational culture and reputation.
  • Intervene at the merest hint of difficulty.
  1. Get the right people around you. For athletes: coaches, nutritionists, psychologists.  For businesses: lawyers, PRs, and people who will ‘speak truth to power’.
  2. Be aware of the opposition. Performance is relative, and you need to know how you match up against others.  So:
  • Monitor what people are saying about your rivals.
  • Learn from others’ mistakes.
  • Commission a reputation audit to find out how your stakeholders assess the relative merits of you and others in your sector.

This will highlight early warnings signs and help you learn from best practice elsewhere.

  1. Invest time and money. We won’t dwell on this. With lottery money, Team GB finally got the money it needed to match its people’s talents.  If businesses want to succeed in building resilience to reputational setbacks then they too need to allocate the right human and financial resources – it’s as simple as that.

Gaining a good reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to win a gold medal for PR, give us ring on 020 7692 5675 or email us at [email protected].

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