Thursday, 6 January 2011

The best and worst communicators in 2010

I'm listing my standout communicators of 2010, and the reasons why I believe they have excelled. I'm also outlining those who have failed miserably. I have picked out the best and the worst in the world's of politics, media and sport. You can read my earlier post about politics here.

Throughout 2011 I will name a communicator of the week and outline what they have done well, whether it is winning a tough policy argument, leading a great campaign or inspiring others to excel through great communication.

So here are 2010's winners and losers in...


The sporting world is increasingly defined by sponsors and the money men. The rawness of intense competition, that thrills and attracts millions from the cricket pitches of Bangalore to the ski slopes of the Alps, is now often filtered through the media to such an extent that phenomenal awe-inspiring performances seem pedestrian.

The race for global domination of the TV schedules by sports associations has gathered pace this year led, as ever, by FIFA the governing body of football. While sport is increasingly a global business, it is often bewildering how unprofessional individuals, teams and associations are at communication. None more so than FIFA.

While there have been any number of sports stars learning the power of social media the hard way, nothing can compare to the inept way FIFA communicate. That the FIFA executive has been abusing its powerful and undemocratic structures for their own benefit is not in doubt. FIFA's lack of remorse certainly has been. It has been a case study in how not to handle a crisis. These scandals - revealed by the British media - were followed by the most bizarre decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia then Qatar.

Russia could just about be understood, but awarding the biggest sporting event in the world, other than the Olympics, to a nation with no stadia, infrastructure or sporting pedigree for reasons of further globalising the world's most popular and commercial sport, was unfathomable. To make matters worse, Sepp Blatter the FIFA president then offended every gay football fan in the world by giving one of the worst press conferences of the year. For all these reasons, and many more, FIFA win the prize as my worst communicator of 2010.

Thankfully, there are moments in sport when the sporting endeavour speaks for itself. The enormity of the occasion and the expectations it brings are matched by fortitude, skill and courage coupled with world class communication. We saw this last year with the Ryder Cup, when golf, one of the world's richest sports, gets back to basics. It was well documented the level of preparation Colin Montgomerie put into the European team. What was rare was that this extended to putting in place a social media protocol, relentlessly staying on message, and keeping disciplined in a way that are alien to most sports away from the area of competition.

By doing this the European team could concentrate on their performances with Montgomerie acting as their human shield, taking the brunt of the media pressure. Montgomerie, who has always had a prickly relationship with the media, performed brilliantly in his media interviews. It was a world away from the normal cliche ridden interviews, riddled with 'you knows' and 'ers' that usually are the stock trade of sporting stars. His calm self-assurance set the tone for a great performance by the European team. Colin Montgomerie is therefore my sporting communicator of the year.    

1 comment:

  1. For sheer humility, I would give best communicator to Cooky - "When I get home and it's cold in a week's time, and you're on the farm walking the dog, you think actually, yeah, I've achieved something special."


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