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Confessions of an Olympic chief

How IOC intend to shake things up

In May 2018, Rebecca Edwards, IOC Communications Director, stopped by the Frankly building to let us in a little secret: It’s not a walk in the park to hold a leading position at a brand attracting not only millions and millions of people, but also recurrent stories regarding corruption and abuse of power.

In front of a dozen marketing buffs, Rebecca made it very clear: The IOC communication needs to be clearer, more human, more digital. And the task in front of her is to take care of business. Properly.



In her own words, freely quoted, here’s how she plans to do so:

People care about the Olympics but aren’t familiar with what's going on behind the stage curtain. That’s one challenge. The other one is that we have the public’s full attention during the Olympics, but not in between them. Both the institution – IOC – and the product – the Games themselves – are very famous, but only few are familiar with our relevance between the Games: I want to let the public know that we are so much more than “just” the Olympic Games: that we work extensively in all parts of the world to increase access to sports: that we spend 90% of our income from the Games on developing athletes – almost $3,5 million a day on average.

"We spend 90% of our income from the Games on developing athletes"

My first job is to restructure the IOC communication body, so stories like these are told. The end goal is to secure that both local and global stakeholder fully understand and appreciate the legacy and impact of the Olympic Games.

If you ask the common man about IOC and its members, probably very little positivity will come up due to the large amount of negative press throughout history. But a lot of the noise surrounding the IOC members is based on an obsolete perception of the brand. To deal with this, we need more transparency, more involvement, and higher standards for integrity. As required by the modern world.

To succeed in this matter, I’ve been given the power to humanise the IOC language and communication as well as make the organisation more “available” and proactive. Until now, only the IOC president has been allowed to speak on behalf of the organisation. And this traditional top-down corporate communication simply doesn’t apply to modern times. It’s no longer possible to withhold stakeholder engagement, if the company people aren’t allowed to talk to the public.

We both have interesting leaders and ditto athletes among our members. If we let more IOC members tell their stories, more positive histories will emerge. And there’s a huge potential in improving our reputation and creating a closer bond – to the public as well as the press – by not only telling these stories, but telling them in a more authentic and friendly voice. We have millions following our brand during the Games, but not a lot following the brand in between. A digital reinforcement is needed. We need content management to engage and entertain our fans with new digital experiences. We need to stay relevant all through the year – each year.


Original article written by Pia Osbæck and published by Bureaubiz