Medals – and gold-standard messages

Knowing just what to say in the moment is no lesser accomplishment
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By Jonathan Spencer

After a turbulent year of interrupted and innovative training plans, you couldn’t help but cheer the successes in this summer’s Tokyo Olympic games. The pursuit of excellence raises hopes and spirits as well as the bar, and not least in such extraordinary times.

What is also notable is the way athletes, just moments after victory or defeat, walk up the steps to the gantry of news crews and sport correspondents eagerly awaiting the next interview and soundbite. Be it gold or silver …fourth or fifth, something of success also shines in the key messages.

Athletes are so often role models, often put on a pedestal, in front of a camera, even when they are totally spent and on their last legs. And yet their interviews are usually as well honed.

There’s the acceptance of accolades sure enough, but right up there is the journey travelled, their thanks for the team support, and the funding. A word for our sponsor… only a little less crass. The medal of course is everything to the competitor. The icing on the cake for the national team and nation is the PR and the return on the colossal investment.

Knowing just what to say in the moment is no lesser accomplishment. Well-rehearsed key messages also work hard when they seamlessly cut through a narrative in support of the brand.

So, the team were great, we so wanted this. We just focused on what mattered to get over the line. Hundred per cent. And none of this would have been possible five years ago without the support, the gold-standard training, the day-on-day encouragement, the Tuesday nights and the weekends…

Exemplar as the standard – and the effort – might be, the message delivered, when you are feeling rubbish, might also win a medal for the team.

So, applied elsewhere – perhaps we have been through the wringer with an incident, be that an engine fire, oil spill or collision – there is still a moment to shine, if not a brand to salvage.

We are unable to confirm the cause of the incident. There is an investigation ongoing, so there is nothing I can say. Hmmm… basic, we can certainly raise the bar here.

It’s not clear how this incident occurred, we are looking into this and will report back when we have more information. Better? Marginally more helpful, but absolutely no point in an interview.

You ask a very good question. We also want to get to the bottom of this. But what I can tell you is, our crew are doing their utmost to tackle the fire under very difficult conditions. They are all experienced seafarers and firefighters – trained to a gold standard. We have coastguard support and we welcome this and all other assistance. Best? I think we’ll agree, the answer is clear, explaining what can be explained, thanking all involved, as well as taking up nearly a minute of the interview.

The audience is in no doubt – the company is in control. Honesty: the company doesn’t know everything at the outset – transparency works as an asset here. Competency: the company has the best crews and trains them exceptionally well. Courtesy: other teams are engaged and the company thanks them.

Medal, or no medal, that sounds like a darn good ship-operator to me.

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