Sochi 2014: PR Tips for Losing Gracefully

Posted by Natalie Hite on February 13, 2014

Picture this: You’re a 27-year-old, two-time gold medal winner. You’ve just placed fourth in your signature event. Now you’re standing in front of an army of journalists who have deemed you ready for retirement. What do you say?

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In today’s era of rapid worldwide and social media, the only thing more important than winning the gold is nailing the post-event interview (well, from a PR practitioner’s standpoint at least). With that in mind, we’ve put together four simple tips for Olympians to consider as they mount the press pit instead of the podium:

  • Admit you gave your best, even if it wasn’t your best: You worked your tail off to get here. Rigorous training, rounds of qualifying, not to mention traveling halfway around the world. Even if your last “run” wasn’t the best you’ve ever done, everything leading up to it represents the largest amount of effort you could have possibly given any endeavor. Own that.
  • Don’t dwell on what went wrong: Everyone will want you to talk about this, and the fact is it doesn’t matter. If the wind was blowing too hard, or the course was too rough, or you forgot to wear your lucky underwear, you can’t change it now. Mention it briefly and move on.
  • Congratulate your opponent: There’s a reason your Little League coach made you line up and shake hands with every player on the other team. It’s called good sportsmanship. And it’s definitely a good idea.
  • Elevate the sport: This is the most important part of your interview. Your chance to tell the world that everything you’ve worked for and everything your opponents have worked for matters. Talk about all the competitors out there shredding the gnar. Talk about the awesome experience of being in the Olympic Village. Give some hope to the kids at home, pretending to figure skate in socks on tile floors. Right now, you are the spokesperson for every athlete, every coach and every mom on Team USA. Make them proud.

What other tips would you give on losing with grace? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.