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Gabby Douglas: Public Relations Handled Like a True Champ
By: Concethia D. Campbell
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America’s newest sweetheart, Olympian Gabby Douglas, has definitely had her share of triumph and trials. All within a week’s time, the 16-year-old has made history by becoming the first African-American to win the individual all-around gold medal, in addition to helping the USA Womens’ National Gymnastics Team win the all-around gold.

In the midst of iconic accomplishments, Douglas has been faced with harsh criticism from viewers regarding the hairstyle she wore during the Olympics. Despite the scrutiny, Douglas handled both situations with grace and dignity, showcasing a relatable public relations image.

I’m sure with numerous endorsement offers, a Kellogg’s cereal box cover, and intense media coverage, Douglas has been coached by her PR team to handle many situations. However, her sincere personality and decision to simply be a “real” teenager has added to her public persona. To portray a positive yet effective public relations image, there are two elements that one must possess, and they're attributes that Gabby has mastered.

Transparency. In successful public relations, transparency is key. According to the Associated Press and Essence Magazine regarding the hair criticism, Douglas has stated, ”I don’t think people should be worried about that.” The gold-medal winner said that she would continue to wear her hair in ponytail with clips, similar to her teammates. ”I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it.” Well…enough said. Gabby’s candid yet respectful response revealed a great deal of transparency, allowing her to become relatable to fellow gymnasts and other teenagers across the world.

Dialogue. Some form of conversation (via Facebook or Twitter, preferably) allows for a more hands-on approach with respective readers and audiences. This form of social media PR builds brand awareness and image. In the midst of the negativity, Douglas addressed her followers and readers with the following tweet per her official Twitter site: WOW such an AMAZING experience! Thank you all for your support, love and prayers love you all!!! In less than 140 characters, Douglas expressed her excitement and gratitude while maintaining a positive media image.

Gabby Douglas is an amazing example of public relations gone RIGHT. As Douglas has displayed, remaining true to yourself and your brand, becoming transparent, engaging in dialogue and remaining professional are the keys to achieving a winning public relations image. You too, can have that gold-medal winning image!

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About the Author
Concethia D. Campbell is an Advertising and Marketing Sales professional and a native of Chicago, IL. Follow Concethia on Twitter @concethia.
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