Securing lasting benefit from hosting the Olympics and Paralympics was a key aim of London 2012 and the legacy was the subject of many reports and articles in the following years.
At the Rio games, Team GB certainly proved that the success in track & field, velodrome & pool were not a one-off, but another aspect of the London Games was to ‘inspire a generation’ – to encourage young people to fulfill their potential and lead healthier lifestyles – and that’s where public relations has played a part.
There was a huge number of commercial partners of London 2012 and getting them involved in the wider community has been something that kept Nick Fuller busy between 2008 and 2012 – and this work continues.
As Head of Education for London 2012, Fuller was charged by the London organising committee to help deliver the promise of inspiring young people through the Games, working closely with sponsors.
Since January 2013, on the road from London to Rio, Fuller and EdComs, the agency he founded in 1995, has worked on behalf of the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations to keep up that work with schools and brands to deliver a mutually beneficial partnership.
“I think this is a fantastic and sustainable form of activation,” says Fuller. “Every time a new partner comes along we will go in and talk to them about schools as a potential activation route, whether it’s through downloadable resources for teachers, roadshows, or athletes and staff visiting the school.”
This involves working out a way in which the partner’s key messages can be aligned with their Olympic or Paralympic sponsorship, and the needs of schools and young people. For example, Aldi, who are partners of the British Olympic Association, have a schools activation programme running as part of their sponsorship where they’re talking to young people about the importance of diet and nutrition, and specifically about cooking and eating fresh food.
“It’s specific to their key messages and really adds value in an area which schools wish to teach and where teachers want up-to-date and engaging information,” says Fuller. “There’s a really nice straight line between the Olympic stars you see in the Aldi adverts and the way they feature in the resources that young people are using in schools and communities.”
It’s not just as activations which complement the advertising that these schemes work. Companies are also taking advantage of the fact that these types of activities improve employee engagement.
Fuller says: “Above the line advertising is the obvious way to go, but increasingly people are seeing that there is a whole range of other areas of activity we can align with their sponsorships – and that Corporate Social Responsibility is definitely one of the boxes that they can tick by making a difference in their community.”
Working in schools can provide an opportunity to fulfil that community outreach and shared value agenda.
“Young motivated bright staff want to work in organisations that allow them to give something back to the community,” says Fuller. “Deloitte, for example, focused on numeracy. They went out to schools and shared their skills in a meaningful way. Companies can take their brand out into the community in a way which really adds value and engages staff. For many of our clients, this is important for their customers, and for their employees. Their children might go to those schools, and there’s a tangible link to the communities in which they work and live.”
The budget for schemes like this might come from comms, CSR or marketing, but whoever signs the cheques, the engagement skills needed recognise an added value for PR skills.
“There is a clear communications aspect to these educational activities,” says Fuller.