But who can argue with Frank Williams assessment that his podium finishes in his first ever three races is “remarkable”? From a public relations perspective, I mean that peole are talking about, remarking upon, this young man. He already has an impressive Wikipedia entry, has generated miles of media coverage and is recognised beyond the motorsport world.
Word of mouth is a great asset – if people are interested in your story, product or organisation, then the public relations task is much easier in many respects. But there are dangers in that you can end up being focused on reactive rather than proactive communications – and need to watch that the pendulum of praise doesn’t swing.
One bad race and all the claims about being the next Michael Schumacher/Ayton Senna/Jim Clarke/Stirling Moss (pick your generation) will disappear in a cloud of disappointment.
Expectations soon get out of all proportion (witness the national football/rugby/cricket teams). There is some evidence online that fans are frustrated by the way that mainstream media is already over excited by a potential British star. And, we know the tabloids have a tendency to “big ’em up, bring ’em down.”
Managing public and media relations needs a long-term strategy – so although the immediate headlines and benefits of being “remarkable” will be great news for all the PR folk involved with Lewis, the challenge is to ensure the initial momentum moves in a positive direction for a life-time career. Achieving that is truly remarkable.