International PR Pros Give London Olympics A Gold Medal

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An international survey of public relations professionals conducted by the ECCO International Public Relations Network give London's Olympic Games high marks for burnishing the city's global image.

Results of an international survey by the global public relations group ECCO shows that London 2012 was a public relations success for Britain. More than 100 communications experts from 24 countries around the globe contributed to the research, with 79% judging their ‘local’ media coverage of the London Olympics as largely positive and 73% judging the event to have changed the image of the British for the better. On an even more positive note, 99% of respondents expect that the Olympics will encourage more people from their country to visit Great Britain and 97% believe it has resulted in more positive perceptions of British products and services in their countries.

The research was undertaken by ECCO International, one of the world’s largest networks of public relations consultancies in September 2012. ECCO’s Chairman and CEO of UK PR firm Kinross & Render, Sara Render says: “Britain has been patting itself on the back justifiably for a fantastic games but overseas audiences count even more when it comes to boosting tourism and international trade. This is a strong endorsement of London 2012’s positive impact on the British tourism and export brand from PR experts from around the world.”

Over a quarter of survey participants believe that the games has resulted in perceptions of the British as being friendlier, more culturally complex, more competitive and having a greater sense of humour than was previously the case. The negative effects of the security debacle only impacted significantly enough for unprompted references by 2% of respondents.

The behaviour of spectators has also possibly gone some way to improving perceptions of British sports fans and London’s working population. Petri Laine, a PR consultant from Finland says: “British sports fans have previously had a bad reputation abroad, largely due to football. The games went a long way towards improving that image and showcasing the Brits as true sports fans in the best sense of the term.” Lutz Cleffman, owner of a German PR agency, says: “London is not just the city of greedy bankers any more. The Olympics showed a much nicer face of the people and country.”

The best ‘face’ for London was seen as having been the athletes themselves (41%), followed by the people of London (23%) and the Royal Family (16%). The Mayor of London Boris Johnson got just 7 % of the vote, but he may well be suffering from global disillusion with politicians. Of one of Boris Johnson’s more notorious PR stunts during the games, Mike Bawden, a consultant from the USA says “Personally, I would have left the Mayor of London tethered to that zip line for a few more hours before cutting him down. “

Danny Boyle’s vision for the opening ceremony was very well received internationally, with over a third (36 per cent) of those that watched it calling it ‘excellent’. The closing ceremony however received less of an audience with almost half (44 per cent) of respondents giving it a miss.

Dr Niren Suchanti, Chairman of one of India’s biggest PR and advertising independents, Pressman, sums up the views of many overseas consultants. He says: “The impact of the games has been truly huge. The excellent TV coverage made many of feel we were right there in London. So many people have been stunned, not just by the excitement of the games but also by the sights and sounds of London. I do believe more people from India will want to visit London to discover for themselves the many facets of that magical city.”

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The survey was conducted in August and September 2012 following the London 2012 Olympic Games, with a total of 108 participants from 24 countries. The countries that participated were: Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland, India, Brazil, Netherlands, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Norway, USA, Poland, Russia, France, Austria, South Africa, China, Colombia, Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, Venezuela.

ECCO International Public Relations is a network of independent PR and marketing communications agencies located in over 40 countries around the world and headquartered in London.

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