Earlier on Twitter I posted that the social media ban on volunteers at the Olympics is idiotic. Let me explain why:
1. It’s a huge missed opportunity. Imagine if the organisers had decided to embrace social media from the volunteers. Imagine the moments that would be captured that couldn’t have ever been captured by the official TV crew. The best moments will be spontaneous and serendipitous. TV cameras won’t be there. Athletes winning, athletes losing. This highly emotional, and therefore engaging, content would have driven huge increases in interest because it would make the athletes more human, more like you and I, and would bring plenty of people in who will be on the fence about the Games. Many people in the UK are opposed to the Games. Many people globally have no interest in the Games. This increase in interest would create huge increases in viewership, and would build strong emotional relationships between ordinary people and the Olympics as a global event.
2. It’s not enforceable. People post under pseudonyms all the time. People can easily post anonymously to their friends who will then share the content. Loads and loads of content will leak out. Some people may be tracked down and fired, but most won’t be found. Remember, this is a group of 70,000 people who have no vested interest in TV rights, athlete rights, etc. They will be much more interested in sharing one of the highlights of their life with their family and friends.
3. It’s based on an understanding of a world which no longer exists. Any PR firm who believe that they can carefully control brand messages are deluded and are going out of business – slowly but surely. The role of PR has changed from command and control to engaging in conversation, and encouraging positive debate.
This is a really short sighted plan. I don’t buy that they are trying to protect the safety of athletes and VIPs. Are they also banning the Paparazzi? Are they worried that social media helps terrorists? In my opinion, this move is motivated by protecting the rights of those who paid extreme amounts of money to broadcast Olympic footage. It’s keeping all the major broadcasters happy. And maybe deep down they know the rule is not enforceable but have to toe the right line in public. But I worry that some people in the IOC with a lot of power have absolutely no idea how the world of media is changing.
I predict that we will see tons and tons of footage leaking out from the 70,000 volunteers, and that the best footage from the Games will come from regular folks, attendees and volunteers, and not from official TV crews. I also think that by the time the 2016 Olympics rolls around, this decision will be laughable, and the enforcers of this rule will look like dinosaurs.