From Baku to Rio with the love of medal
APA Azeri Press Agency

From Baku to Rio with the love of medal

[ 21 September 2016 15:36 ]

Samaya Mammadova, press secretary of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Youth and Sports

 Flight of 14 hours 30 minutes. 7 hours’ time difference. Baku in summer. Rio in winter. Baku wakes up. Rio is sleeping. But at the same time there is excitement.

"Public relations is reputation: what you say, what you do is the result of what others say about you. "

 CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations model) (Institute of Certified Public Relations)



 View from London to Rio



In 2012, the XXIX London Summer Olympic which was held in Albion, was my first big experience as a press secretary. Quite frankly I did not know how to establish relations with press during the Olympics. Professionally speaking, i did not work on any strategy. To be honest, I will not be mistaken if I say not developing any working strategy beforehand made problems for me. Information sparseness, in some cases media was not provided with operativeness, delayed reaction to the false information posted to several websites by some media members was not heart-warming case.


The most important issue was providing Azerbaijani Delegation in London with mobile phone and sim card, which played exception role in creating close and efficient cooperation with press. Calls (despite of having 4 hours’ difference), timely response to the given questions, making comments about any theme was the most comfortable and easy way to communicate with journalists in London Summer Olympic Games. So, before the game i was going to Rio in a completely different form than in London.


Communication. İnformation. Plans for RIO Olympics


Victoria Harres: PR experts play an important role drive attention of journalist on some event/incident. There is not enough journalist to make one story for every incident.


Before the Rio Olympics I was thinking about how to communicate with press, to deliver information to the journalists in a quick and operative way, and to send audio and video materials besides of written materials. I knew that taking into consideration that games were in the night so in the morning people get information about games firstly from internet, different social networks and information agencies. So, info, text should be prepared in the night. Principally, I knew that everything was different in comparison with London

-    Azerbaijan numbers almost did not work in Brazil (In Brazil they gave us local numbers, but it was financially appropriate neither for me nor for the journalist)

-   There was 7 hours’ difference between Brazil and Azerbaijan. For example, when it was 09:00 in Baku, it was 02:00 in Brazil. Work hours start in Baku, and finish in Brazil. So, there could be huge delays in delivering information.

-   The areas where games were held were far away from each other (e.g. judo and gymnastics, wrestling and rowing ant etc.)

-   Working on some answers and beforehand materials for the negative articles (proactive and reactive PR will be in next article. Prevent the negative articles which has probability to be written or creating response answer response against them)


-   The agitation in social networks, small as it may seem, but the work is carried out at a high level play an important role in the development of strategy development of conduct and other details.


After checking our athletes’ competition schedule created for our delegation by the Gabil Mehdiyev, who is the editor-in-chief of “sports” newspaper by our ministry, we sent list of the journalists that we will cooperate to the Rio 


Thus, august 2 at 01.00 am from Baku special flight flew to Brazil via Baku-Rio. After 14 Hours 30 minutes by the time we reached the Brazilian city of Rio at 9.00 a.m. Already at the airport nonprofessional organizational issues drove our attention. Naturally, internet was a moment of concern for me and our employees. In the case of weak internet, we might not be talking about working at a high level. 


But it is good that our concern was unfounded. It can be said that most professionally done work in Rio Olympics was the internet (in press buses, media centers, and at sports arenas for registering in advance). The first things done before the start of Olympics were rising of Azerbaijan flag, and representation of IV Islamic Solidarity Games in Rio. Both events were widely promoted among the media representatives.

Afterwards, main target was competitions and our athletes.
Given that the competition was shown live on ITV, and repeats were shown in the morning, so texts should be based on interviews with athletes, their coaches, and experts.


“It does not matter what happened, you should have idea why you are taking the interview: concrete answer, thoughts, citations, emotions, and etc. for the several questions? There is no difference.” Tory Harcup


For me the aim of interview is formation of public opinion (the written press), at the same time, the delivery of emotions (TV and Radio).


Here I have to stress importance of work as a team. When our athletes were competing in different arenas, we were making division with the editor-in-chief of “Sports” newspaper – Gabil Mehdiyev. Photographer Dilavar Nadjafov was operative guarantor of photos.

Thus, our work was built over WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and e-mail. 


-    Taken interviews (Video and voice) were directly sent to “Rio 2016” Group on WhatsApp as soon as athlete leaves the arena. Taking into consideration that, information agencies work 7/24, so main aim was to maintain operativeness in written media.


-    The main function of Facebook was writing status if I want to deliver my opinion to the public, to answer the question given by several people, at the same time delivering interview taken by TVs and information agencies to the larger audience by adding the link, mentioning names of journalist, and larger information.


-    Taking into consideration that Instagram is for my personal photos, I was sharing my pictures with athletes, and writing their interesting thoughts as a caption. Honest comments written above the pictures caused great interest.


Of course written tweets, sent emails, and other works which I did not speak about were base of the widely promotion during the Rio Olympic Games.


 I will not be mistaken if I say, despite of the fact that we almost did not use calls in comparison with London Olympics, with the exception of “Yeni Gun” program of Ictimai TV, Social network (basically WhatsApp) replaced several mobile phones.


“There exceptional role of social media in opinion making in public. Specially, in some cases social media has huge role in information transfer, at the same time it causes spread of wrong information.” Anne Gregory


Of course, I knew in advance that the cases above should happen, I tried to do promotion of Rio 2016 Olympics from 4 sides.