Social Media for Support

22 Jun

Today is the first day of the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR. The focus for my past few posts has been on large scale social media campaigns, but what about the little guys? Individual athletes each have their own story to share. They all have a different perspective of the journey they have embarked upon.

I have seen great support for some of the competitors I know, through Facebook and Twitter. Many athletes trying to make it to London are low profile. They are fighting every second to stay in the mix. They aren’t the favorites, they are not return competitors to the Olympic Games, but they still work hard every day to achieve greatness. They work without publicists, some without sponsors, and many without direction for building a fan base.

Yet these athletes garner support online from family, friends, and members of the track and field community. Support is important for anyone striving to achieve such great heights. In most Olympic sports, the athletes struggle to get by with their heavy training schedules, and it is all for these moments.

It is interesting to see how athletes engage as their own public relations specialists. Each has his or her own style. They divulge different information, from hanging out before the race, to inspirational quotes, to posting humorous music videos. An example of this is a video posted by Decathlete, Jake Arnold.

All of these tactics help friends, followers, and competitors relate to the athletes. Some, like Jake, are more successful at building a fan base through quirky content, but as we know, there is no “right” formula for success online.

This begs the question, will academics find a formula to present to online users for successful campaigns? The past few days, a tiny wheel has started to spin in my brain. Spider webs are tearing, rust is coming off, and ideas about the future of public relations are coming to the forefront of my thoughts. Considering my disdain for research, I am considering questions that I believe academics need to answer. Can a formula be created to act as a theme for public relations practice, based on user preferences and opinions about credibility?

Public relations has, as I said in my first post, always been so wishy washy to me. None of the professors I have had the pleasure of taking a course from have preached the same principles. Some seem to be stuck in the land of spin, some are scientifically oriented and focus on strategy, and some give you vague guidelines and expect you to figure it out on your own. In order to be taken seriously as a profession, public relations practitioners need to find consistency.

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