U.S. Olympians Bulking Up, On PR That Is

We PR professionals love to see our principles put into action, especially when they draw attention from nearly every nation in the world. We love real-life examples of Herculean events applying PR to their strategic arsenal, the examples that will go down in the history books (or at least public relations textbooks).

As Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) proudly states in an August 11 article, “For the first time ever, the U.S. Olympic Committee is requiring all of its 596 Olympians to attend a two-day course on the host country’s culture before they leave for the Games.” In other words, for the first time ever, the U.S. is consciously adding tact, diplomacy and respect to Olympians’ training schedule. Warning about everything from the Chinese’s no-hug rule to how to use chopsticks, the two-day seminar equips athletes with a cultural awareness unseen in past events.

Pictures from the 2006 Winner Games in Torino, Italy revealed American skier (and PR nightmare) Bode Miller getting sloshed the night before games and making rude gestures at photographers (let’s just say he offered a peace sign sans index finger). With U.S. diplomacy plummeting as the Iraq war simmers and Georgia conflict boil over, the U.S. Olympic Committee recognized our country couldn’t afford a similar mishap this year.

Bravo! We applaud the Committee for trying to make this year’s games what they should be: world-class athletes participating in a riveting competition, one unclouded by international tensions and current conflicts. And we commend the committee for employing PR at its best, using it as a preventative measure rather than a reflex to bad behavior.


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