9 August 2012 24 Comments

Lolo Jones Vs Jere Longman of NYT: social Media lessons

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals


Lolo Jones, US Olympic athlete, US Olympic team, Lolo Jones and Jere longman of NYT, Lolo Jones and Crisis management, Lolo Jones and US mediaThose who are sport lovers would have been following the Olympic game. More importantly as many that love US team will know who Lolo Jones is. But just for a recap, Lolo Jones is a sprinter who was part of US team in the last Beijing Olympic but lost out narrowly. Once again after a great performance in the heats, Lolo Jones came forth without a medal for her country. After her event ,Lolo Jones granted a media interview. The media interview had drawn  negative attention to Lolo Jones. Leading this attack is Jere Longman of New York Times whose article has been considered too harsh.

There are several lessons Social media and brand Communication professionals can learn from this. Here are some we consider important.  This is not exhausitive.

Always look  for the positive: Lolo Jones missed a medal (even if it is bronze) with ten seconds behind Sally Pearson of Australia. At the media interview that led to this row, Lolo Jones took a philosophical stance at the discipline it requires to keep her virginity till now at 30 is harder than winning the Olympics. It is this reference to Lolo Jones’ morality that pitched her against her attackers. Sometimes you will miss a mark in your effort to achieve the best for your brand online. But always be positive and look at the brighter side.

Show your human angle: In social media, the more you can share the human angle of your brand’s story the better. You may not get all, but those who can relate with your brand will accept you. While many berated Lolo Jones for turning the media spotlight to her virginity status.  They went ahead to say, she was looking for brand endorsement since she  got nothing. Some also insinuated Olympic is a platform to meet great suitors so she was using the media to advertise her availability and fidelity. Do not forget also Lolo Jones was a personal brand story crafter as she once told media her past as a struggling girl, from poor background as well how she used to be a shoplifter. Lolo strategy is being a down to earth person. Whether Lolo Jones intention was misinterpreted, a brand on social media must be able to tell it story with human angle.

Be prepared for attention: getting attention has a price. You are constantly working the stuff ahead of time. People want to meet you and they do have great expectations about you. Sometimes these expectations are impossible. You also need to know there will be people who will not be pleased your brand. Lolo Jones was granted interview. The attention she got made some medal- winning athletes (Dawn Harper and kellie Wells) angry. They complaint Lolo Jones got the attention. As if it was an impossible thing for them to go out there and get all the media coverage they desired. This seemingly ‘over-bloated’ media attention Lolo Jones got was the beginning of the attack. I social media, there will be underdogs who are attention seekers who will want to attack your brand just to gain traction.

Do not be transactional: I was reading a review of the Jere Longman’s article on Lolo Jones in Business Insider, and the majority felt Jere went too far in criticising an athlete who just survived a spinal cord surgery and still went back in shape to compete in the Olympic. Many believed it was not magic that got Lolo Jones Olympic but sheer dedication, rigorous exercise that made won the ticket to represent America in the Olympics. People believed Jere Longman as a journalist wants to sell his paper so the farther he could go to create negativity around Jones would make the medium sell. Like in Social media, those who are transactional often lose great relationship and several opportunities to build strong engagement no matter how hard you tried. In fact many people started condemning and comparing New York Times with National Enquirer.

Image management: from every account, a very clever attempt that could not be ignored is that Lolo Jones consciously and strategically manages her image and she did this with finesse. In social Media, know how to manage, market and promote the brand without running into trouble. Is there anything I am missing?

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