London 2012 was dubbed the first ‘social media’ Olympic Games, with the Twittersphere coming into its own as #TeamGB won copious medals and the hashtag went stratospheric.
Move forward four years to another continent and time zone, and we are in a time when people are living their lives on social media. Athletes are instructed to share their ‘journey’ during the run up to the Games, to tweet their food, training, highs and lows to further engage with their discipline’s fan base. It is all lapped-up by said fans – until timing hits the buffers.
It became a case of what constitutes ‘live’ broadcasting. The BBC was purporting to show live racing; “We are just going live to the rowing lake, aquatics centre, whatever, where so and so is going for gold!”. The only problem was that the result had already been broadcast by BBC commentators and spectators on Twitter.
Another problem of timing came for Manchester City FC last week. The club had to upload a team list for the Champions League onto the UEFA portal. Unfortunately they were unaware that this list would be automatically displayed at midnight, naming a new player, John Stones, without officially having signed him. Red faces all round.
These instances are both elements that a PR has to control when dealing with a client’s social media and press relations functions. All the ducks have to line up.
It used to be that news went out through wire services, swiftly followed by a release. Today there is no point in sending out the press release after the company has made an announcement through its social media presence – it is immediately old news.
So timing is just as important in PR as it is in sport. Make sure your social media and press releases are lined up on the start as one and, once the gun goes, that they cross the line together.