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3 PR Lessons I Learned After Watching Olympic Gymnastics

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Jordan WieberFor those of you who might not know, I am a huge fan of gymnastics. I have loved everything about the sport ever since I was able to walk, but I never thought that watching this year’s Olympic coverage would teach me some valuable career lessons.

Watching Jordyn Wieber’s reaction after not qualifying for the all-around finals was heart wrenching, but it got me thinking. She had to move on quickly in order to perform to the best of her ability to help lead her team to gold just days after what I would assume was her biggest career disappointment. It had to be difficult for Jordyn to brush off her feelings as an individual and think about the larger picture – her team. The same goes for PR. As professionals we work in teams, and we rely on each other for support. When an individual succeeds, the entire team – including the client – feels the gratification. Failures work the same way. We rely on our teams to keep us moving, even when things might be tough.

Here are three more lessons I picked up on after watching the Fab Five perform at this summer’s Olympic games:

No one is guaranteed a “stuck landing” – In gymnastics, the best way to finish a performance is by sticking the landing. Sticking the landing isn’t guaranteed, and if you have ever watched gymnastics before, you have probably noticed that a lot of times gymnasts have to fight to keep their feet planted. In PR, sticking the landing would be equivalent to sealing the deal with a new client or seeing the story you pitched on TV or in print. But we know that these things aren’t guaranteed. We have to follow up on pitches in order to get our clients’ stories to run (stick the landing). We have to constantly communicate and build relationships. As PR pros we also have to fight to keep our feet planted.

A perfect score is nearly impossible to achieve, but it is possible – A 10.0 used to be the highest score a gymnast could achieve on a single event. A perfect score is the ultimate goal. Many gymnasts get close, but never achieve it. If they do happen to achieve perfection, I can promise that the difficulty in their next routine will increase. Gymnasts always strive for more. In PR, a story being placed in a top publication could be considered nearly perfect, or it could be considered perfect — it all depends on how high your goals are set and how much you are willing to work to achieve more. If you can get your client featured in a top publication, can you take it a step further? What would you consider your perfect PR “score?”

To achieve a consistent applaud-worthy performance, you have to fall on your face a few times – Even the top gymnasts take some nasty falls before they can consistently succeed. There is no possible way to rise to the top without making mistakes. In gymnastics, a fall is the biggest mistake you can make, but does that make them give up? No, it makes them work harder and strive to not repeat the error. The same goes for our industry. There is no way we can learn if we never make mistakes or “fall on our faces” a time or two. It’s okay to make these mistakes, admit to making them and move on.

Have you learned any valuable lessons after watching the Olympics?

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