Jackie Brock-Doyle, Former Director of Communications & Public Affairs, LOCOG
The importance of public perception and support - PR lessons for HS2 from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Bidding for and hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games is a 10 year project. It culminates in an event that attracts the biggest global audience on the planet. What starts out as a fantastic opportunity to market a city and a country and inspire a generation of young people to choose sport turns eventually into an issues laden, risk management project. Long before the athletes line up on the track or the pool deck you have gone many rounds with naysayers and opportunists, defended the improbable and devised a thousand creative ways to excite and engage the population.
Balancing national interests with international attention, 19 government departments, changes in prime ministers and Mayors and a nation of 60 million+ stakeholders across the cynical spectrum is as complex as they come. Managing expectations, laying out the journey for others to follow, generating excitement, keeping everyone informed and side stepping skirmishes (some of your own making) is an art not a science but the lessons we learned over the decade can apply to any industry.
As with many complex projects the initial idea is simple, necessary and relevant. Remembering WHY you started out on the journey, rather than just what you are doing and how you are doing it is critical.
Winning hearts and minds is rarely an instant exercise and there are inevitable ups and downs when the journey is a long one. It requires focus, clarity and most of all integration. I will focus my speech primarily on four drivers of integration:
- Vision and Trust – what you stand for and the promises you make
- Partnerships and Engagement – the company you keep and the advocates you create and attract