Handling PR for an Olympian: 5 lessons

The public relations rep for Kristin Armstrong, this year’s gold medal winner in the cycling time trial, shares observations from this unique vantage point.

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On Wednesday, 10 days before turning 39, Kristin won her second consecutive gold medal—the first-ever back-to-back gold medals for any U.S. cyclist—in the time trial in the 2012 London Olympic Games. I would venture to say it will be decades until anyone equals Kristin’s level of achievement in the sport.

I can speak at length about what working with an Olympian has taught me about dedication and determination, but I thought I’d share things I’ve learned about sports PR:

At the Olympics, there are limitations on media interviews.

U.S. Olympic organizations own the athletes during the games. Forget pitching the hometown media to do a remote phone interview with your athlete from across the pond. Athletes’ schedules are dictated by the U.S. Olympic organizations immediately before and after their competitions.

Also, the TV network (in this case, NBC) has exclusive rights to Olympians before any other media outlet. Even though this seems like a no-brainer, other networks want to speak to these headlining athletes. NBC gets the first pass, though.

Olympians are not dumb jocks.

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