Five tips from Olympics PR chief Jackie Brock-Doyle on how to get your start-up on the winner’s podium

If your start-up is after a gold medal performance when it comes to building a profile, there’s no better person to get advice from than PR whiz Jackie Brock-Doyle.


Brock-Doyle headed up the communications division of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and has been working in public relations for over 20 years.


She’s heading to Australia for In the Room, an innovation conference to be held in Sydney in August.


Brock-Doyle spoke to StartupSmart about how start-ups can identify the most powerful version of their vision to get their brand out there and their products and services snapped up.


“Working on the games was extraordinary, it’s the biggest brand in the world but the stories and lessons we learned can apply to everyone,” Brock-Doyle says.


“The first thing whether you’re a start-up, a big company or Olympics is you need to spend time developing a vision that everyone really understands.”


Invest the time needed to create a clear and powerful vision


Brock-Doyle says developing a compelling vision takes time, and the vision for the London Olympics PR strategy didn’t emerge for weeks.


“Take the time to develop the vision and really know why you’re in business. It sounds really simple, but so few people do it,” she says.


“A lot of groups have visions that are really news hooks. Your vision needs to stand the test of time. If you start a business, you’re there for the long haul and you need a vision that survives fads and stays around. It has to be something that can evolve and grow.”


She adds the value of the time investment goes beyond marketing and PR.


“If you invest that time at the beginning, it makes it much easier to develop exactly the right products and services, and the right partners,” Brock-Doyle says.


“It’s very easy to partner with the wrong people. You can ruin your brand very quickly through something someone else has done.”


The key to a clear vision is UNITE


Brock-Doyle says she takes the word “unite” and applies it to the vision for PR projects she works on.


“Vision is all about uniting people, and everything it needs to do is in the word ‘unite’,” she says.


“Vision is something that unites an organisation. I talk about stakeholders and that sounds a bit grand but it’s not. It’s just everyone, staff, suppliers and customers.”


According to Brock-Doyle, UNITE stands for understanding, navigating, inspire, trust and everyone. She says the most powerful visions are easy to understand, inspiring for everyone and can be used to help the business navigate every decision and build trust.


“No one ever has enough money in any business or organising committee, and the vision helps you excite and navigate your team and customers through to execution every time,” Brock-Doyle says.


Focus on your why, not your how


In the fiercely competitive start-up world, having a clear vision is critical says Brock-Doyle, who compares the situation to London pitching for the Olympics.


“When we were bidding for the London Olympics, we were up against all the great cities of the world. Everyone could do this,” Brock-Doyle says. “So we focused our pitch on the why. Why did we want to do this? This works for business to. Why are you in business, why do you do what you do and why should your customers care more about you than anyone else?”


Let go to share the vision properly


According to Brock-Doyle, just because it started as your idea, doesn’t mean you have to retain ownership over the vision.


“With start-ups, one of the biggest mistakes is they think vision belongs to the company. When they get bigger they’ll work it out, but at that stage it’ll be too late,” Brock-Doyle says.


Opening up dialogue with customers and suppliers is a great way to do this, she says.


“As a small business, you need partners who stand by your vision, both suppliers and those who help you launch your business,” Brock-Doyle says.


“Your company needs to be open to everyone and everybody in your market. Some companies set out to target just one part of the community, and that’s fine, but it’s got to include everyone in that group.”


Be committed to the truth


A well-developed and authentic vision and well-formed alliances will enable you to tell the truth regardless of the circumstance your brand may be in. Brock-Doyle says this is easier for everyone and can earn your brand a legion of ambassadors.


“You have to tell the truth from the very beginning. This doesn’t mean just not lying. You need to be clear on what will happen, when and why, so everyone has the same expectations,” Brock-Doyle says.


This is true even if you find yourself in trouble and fending off negative coverage.


“Go toe to toe with the media if you have to. It takes time to build real trust. It’s not earned easily, but it’s lost that way and so quickly,” Brock-Doyle says. “This isn’t new, but now it’s so much easier to check what people claim. People share information and talk in a way they never used to before.”


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