December 18, 2012 by Colin Kelly
Continuing my series highlighting some of the people who I think have excelled in the media in 2012.
Today: Jessica Ennis
Runner up in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, the face of the London 2012 Olympics but most importantly, she delivered when it mattered most.
Under enormous pressure with the world watching and after months of relentless hype and build up, this 26 year old athlete from Sheffield achieved her dream of Olympic gold.
Much has been written about her journey (including an excellent book by Jessica herself) but the purpose of this blog post is to consider her performance in the media.
A few things to note. Countless books and Linkedin blog posts encourage individuals to ‘think of yourself as a brand’. Some elite athletes clearly do, in the hope that it helps them with their quest for world domination and bigger sponsorship deals.
But Jessica has resisted this temptation. She is not a brand. She’s something better that is often forgotten in this world of 24 hour news, social media and everything and everyone fighting for attention.
Jessica Ennis is a human being. A human being that worked incredibly hard and made enormous sacrifices to achieve her dream. A human being that finds it strange and a little bit awkward that there’s a 10 foot billboard with her face on it above the chip shop. And a human being that values her friends, her family and takes seriously her responsibility to her fans, many of whom are young and who look up to her.
It’s about self respect. Of course she dresses up for nights out and wants to look good, and why shouldn’t she take up the offer of sponsorship opportunities and personal appearances. She’s earned that right.
What’s impressive is that through it all and even though her life has changed dramatically in the last 12 months, Jessica Ennis has stayed true to herself. We know she’s the same person that missed out on the Beijing games through injury and lost her world title last year. We have been on a journey with her, shared her struggle and identify with her.
She knows she has to deal with the media and controls it, rather than letting it control her. Her social media activity is an excellent mix of behind the scenes, personal insight and the occasional mention of her sponsors. It’s true to who she is. In a world that constantly tells us we have to ‘be something’ Jessica Ennis wins us over just by being herself.
The difference is that who she is, is pretty exceptional, and she’s an example to us all.