Want Better Communication? What We Can Learn from Olympic Athletes

February 26, 2010 · Posted in Communications · 1 Comment

If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics in Vancouver like me, you may have been impressed at the level of performance and the triumphs of these top athletes. And no matter what nation, every single Olympic athlete seems to have that same dedication and that mental strength that makes them reach for the gold medal .  I believe that we can learn from the Olympians and apply these strengths to become a better communicator. No matter what language you speak, what country you’re from and what communications goal you want to achieve - the following Olympic qualities can help all of us to go for gold in our lives.


Not only aim Olympic athletes higher than others (Remember: No dreams are too big!) but they are absolutely determined to achieve their goal. Apply determination to your communications strategy and you will find yourself more focused and more thorough in your approach. If you’re planning on delivering an inspiring speech that will affect people’s way of seeing your brand or services, add a portion of Olympic determination to your speech writing recipe - and you’ll finish boldly. Determination can change your mindset from “just getting things done somehow” to creating powerful content that will surpass your own and other people’s expectations.


Olympic athletes might get injured during training, or they might experience personal hardship like Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette whose mother died unexpectedly a few days before she competed in Vancouver - no matter what kind of hurdles these athletes have to face, they gather the strength to overcome them. Their “never give up” - attitude can help you cope with any communications crisis. Before you bury your head in the sand, think twice, learn from your mistakes or your bad luck and let it inspire you to come out even stronger. Joannie Rochette won the bronze medal despite her grief - if she can do it, so can you. All you need is a healthy portion of persistence.

Stand the Pressure

Let’s face it. It’s not easy to compete in any Olympic discipline while the whole world is watching. Athletes like American Alpine ski racers Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn know what it’s like to feel the pressure. The key is to find a way for you to remain calm so that you can focus on your performance and not think about the stress. American short track speedskater Apolo Ohno yawns before he starts a race in order to put himself in a zen-like state. What’s your technique to stand the pressure? If you don’t know yet, go and find out, and I’m sure your communcations performance will profit from it next time you have to stand the pressure.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Olympic athletes talk a lot about how they prepare for a competition. All of them dedicate hours and hours every day and week after week to train for their chance of a lifetime. Preparation is also key to any exceptional communications initiative - if you follow the motto “overprepare, then go with the flow”, no unexpected situation can catch you off guard. Like the Olympic winter athletes who prepare for different weather conditions or a difficult slope, you should prepare for any communications obstacle that might cross your path - and when it comes, take it on powerfully and with confidence.

Never go without Support

Parents, friends, doctors, coaches - no Olympic athlete can do the job alone. Why should you? Olympic atheletes feed off of their support group and achieve peak performances due to the assistance and encouragement their receive. Whatever your communication needs, you don’t have to do it alone. Hire a professional copywriter if you can’t do it yourself, ask for help from a social media guru to tackle your online marketing project, fall back on your friend who happens to be an SEO expert - if you get your support group together , you can be more powerful than ever.

Wishing you your Olympic communications moment!

February 8, 2010 · Posted in Entertainment , Trends & Style ·

Just recently, I reported about 2 : actor Christoph Waltz and filmmaker Michael Haneke . Now, Hollywood honors another talented Austrian: On Feb 3rd 2010, BRAVO TV announced that fashion designer Emil Gampe and his show partner Kathy Rose are the Season One’s winners of “Launch My Line”. Together, Emil and Kathy collaborated on the successful fashion line titled ‘Native Rose’ which beat out nine other contestants marking them the first ever winners of ‘ Launch My Line ’.

Emil and Kathy created the winning look

BRAVO TV developed the new fashion reality show to follow up on the success of “Project Runway” hosted by German top model . In “Launch My Line”, Emil Gampe was teamed up with jewelry designer Kathy Rose to guide her through the competition of ten teams towards the launch of her own fashion line. The celebrated designer twins, Dean and Dan Katen from DSQUARED2 , a hip fashion brand based in Milan, are the hosts of the show. Together with other celebrity judges from the world of fashion like Stefani Greenfield and Lisa Kline they judged all the contestants’ creations deciding that Kathy and Emil had designed the winning look .

Bravos new TV Show 'Launch MY Line' Party New York City

After his win, we interviewed Emil Gampe to learn more about his experience at “Launch My Line” and what his success means for his future as an Austrian fashion designer in the US.

Nina Grenningloh: Congratulations! You’re the (expert) winner of “Launch My Line”, the designer show on Bravo TV. What do you think was it about your team that convinced the judges to pick your design as the winner?

Emil Gampe: The idea of the show was to create a fashion line, not just individual looks. The judges decided that our collection was the most cohesive one, balanced in colors, fabric choice, and design. And they thought that the market would respond well to it.

NG: The show was hosted by designers Dean and Dan Katen from DSQUARED2. The judges’ panel was lead by Stefanie Greenfield - in how far did it motivate you to work around such high-profile industry people?

EG: It was great to work with judges that are so talented and respectable. All of them really knew what they were talking about. Their comments and constructive criticism were very valuable in the process of creating the line. And on a personal level: They are really nice people!

NG: You are already a very successful fashion designer running your own line EMIL couture . Why did you decide to participate in “Launch My Line” on Bravo?

EG: I wanted to use my exposure through the show to built out my couture label strongly into the red carpet direction. I would love to get people wearing EMIL at the Oscars and other major events. In addition, I am looking for an investor to launch my own first ready-to-wear collection.

NG: What was the most challenging design that you created on the show?

EG: The black jumpsuit was the most difficult for me to do. I am specialized in dresses and gowns and have not done pants in a while….But the hard work paid off. The jumpsuit won the episode and was sold out very quickly on Rue La La .

Emil Gampe photographed by Tom Zeleny

NG: You won the show. What comes next for Emil Gampe?

EG: I want to find more time for my own line and scale back on consulting work. This transition will require active partners and investors that I hope to acquire next.

NG: You’re originally from Austria where you started your career. You then moved to London to study fashion design and you worked at a couture design house in London before you moved to the US. Why did you move to the US to proceed with your own line? Why not stay in Europe?

EG: I first visited the US when I was in my teens and could already feel back then that this country fits the size of my dreams. In the US, I strongly experienced that everything is possible if I use my talents and work hard. Vienna and London were the stepping stones to realize my dreams of working in New York and Los Angeles.

NG: Thanks, Emil, for your time.

Emil wants to encourage people who are interested in his couture work for red carpet or are thinking to invest into his ready-to-wear line to contact him. Interested parties can get in touch with Emil through his website .

A Word on PR Spam

February 2, 2010 · Posted in Communications · 1 Comment

I just learned about the Inconvenient PR Truth campaign , a PR industry initiative launched by Realwire’s CEO Adam Parker. The campaign aims at initiating a debate on PR irrelevance and how it’s polluting our online environment. According to research by news release distribution service Realwire , each year US and UK journalists receive an estimated total of  1.7 billion irrelevant press release emails. That’s a lot!

My initial reaction to the campaign was: Yes! That’s right. We PR people should work on honoring and improving our craft. We should help reduce PR pollution by only sending out relevant information.

On second thought: What’s relevant really depends on the receiver. An information that’s relevant to an audio-visual technology trade mag might not be relevant to a cooking magazine. That’s easily figured. So how do we solve this problem of PR pollution?

Well, there is never a straightforward, easy solution, is there? Nonetheless, I believe that the new era of conversational public relations leveraging social media holds the key to less spam and more relevance as towards press releases and its distribution.

PR Relevance: It’s a Two Way Street

Yes, PR practitioners need to target the right journalists when it comes to distribute releases. That’s only one side of the story.

Journalists and bloggers have the power to say “No!” to unsolicited press release emails. Rather than feeeling victimized, they should harness their position, stop being mere receivers of information and become active information “hunters and gatherers”. The new internet offers endless possibilities when it comes to looking for topics and news that match their editorial needs .

Shift Communications’ Todd Defren has a great blog post on this PR pro/journalist dynamic. He writes that “part of the PR pro’s new job in this era is to create, seed and cultivate content about clients in the socialstreams.” And why is that? Because a majority of reporters already turn to the internet and social networks when it comes to information gathering.

From Press Release to Social Media Release

Assuming PR people would shift their priorities and concentrate on spreading relevant “trails of breadcrumbs” - as Todd Defren calls them - for the searching journalist or blogger to find and follow, would that help generate a shift in PR practices? Would it help reduce PR spam and increase conversations among PR pros and reporters that are pertinent to a particular issue? Tools for social media releases are out there, and they are being used already. But not enough.

My notion is, the more information you “have to” accumulate to make your release fit for the social web, the higher your chance you’re getting the information right. A traditional press release distributed - text-only - over the wire to a million media recipients bears the risk of being irrelevant, not because of the large number of receivers but because of its undeliberated and often rash way of sending.

The Power of Multi-Media Resources

Imagine you would have to include an embeddable video that presents a brief product demo by an in-house expert. Imagine you would include accompanying graphics or statitics that support your release with useful data. Imagine you would add quotes from your company’s executives or clients and analysts topping off your information. What about MP3 files or podcasts? What about links to relevant additional information or coverage on the same topic?

A social media release leveraging all these multi-media resources about your product, service or company stands a chance of not being dismissed as irrelevant or spam - especially when equipped with RSS functionality as well as embedding, bookmarking and sharing possibilities to social networks, news aggregators and blogs.

Brian Solis wrote a very helpful introduction and overview of the power and possibilities of social media releases. In his “ Definite Guide to Social Media Releases “  Solis sums up what a social media release should include and why we need social media releases. On that note, I hope that social media releases will help reduce PR spam and make the conversations between PR pros and reporters a fruitful one. What do think? How can we reduce PR pollution?

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