I HAVE no idea how many press officers are employed by the Olympic Games, but it is a lot. However, trying to get in touch with someone from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games – LOCOG – proves to be a disheartening experience.
Admittedly, anyone connected with 2012 must be rather busy at the moment – and there have been a lot of negative stories swirling around. As one high-powered political spindoctor said to me wearily: “Oh, it is Olympic knocking week.”
But the real reason dealing with the LOCOG hordes is infuriating was because they, along with a lot of other organisations who are over- zealous about being “on message”, seem to be suffering from a bad case of emailitis.
These are the symptoms: First, you ring a person. You explain who you are. You explain what you want. The person appears to listen. You assume they may be taking notes. If someone was speaking to you and you were listening you would be taking notes.
However, at the end of your very detailed explanation there is a pause. “Er… would you mind putting all that in an e-mail which explains exactly what it is you are after?”
Depending on how much Vietnamese coffee I have had that day, I may at this point have a minor hissy fit.
“But I have just told you what I want. I have just explained to you what I need. If you are not capable or authorised to listen with your ears and your brain then why bother pretending to listen to me at all?”
The answer which usually comes is: “Well, if you put it all in an e-mail then I can make sure it gets put before the right person.”
Except that if you are LOCOG it gets repeatedly sent to the wrong person, who rings you, who listens to what you are saying, who asks you to put everything in an e-mail.
It should be a cause for national celebration. It should be making us all feel proud. But the control freakery behind the scenes at the Olympics helps explain why so many of the wrong messages are getting out.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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