Carole Beckford is the CEO for Carole Beckford & Associates, a new company which specializes in image management, marketing, and media planning. She is an author, expert presenter on sport and sport tourism, and the founder of The Business of Sport, a concept and formula for building and enhancing the sports industry in Jamaica and the Caribbean. She has been a journalist for over 24 years working in the press and electronic media.
Most notably, Beckford is the publicist for Usain Bolt, the defending three-time Olympic champion sprinter and world record holder from Jamaica. As the fastest man in the world gears up for the highly anticipated Men's 100m event this weekend in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics – where he will face stiff competition from his teammate and training partner, Yohan Blake – we caught up with Beckford to learn more about what it's like to work with one of the most sought-after athletes in the world.
Q: What does the day in the life of Carole Beckford look like, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?
- Morning meditation to get me through the day
- Preparation to leave for work and drop my son at school
- Before that though I am up reading the papers from around the world and responding to requests from journalists in Europe
- Once I get to work, the phone goes on for at least two to three hours, then meetings
- By 4:30 though I am back on the email to talk to Australia and to say good night to Europe. I really do talk to the world most days.
Q: With Usain Bolt being one of the most sought after athletes in the world, how have you assisted him with his off-the-track endeavors to put him in the best position to be successful in London?
Beckford: We have lots of conversations. Usain learns fast (pun intended) so he is a quick study. It is also important for him to give input. It has been hectic, but the evidence of his reach is clear. The hardest part is when I have to say no to a request. Otherwise we are good.
Q: As we’ve watched Usain’s development in front of the camera since the 2008 Olympics, what would you attribute to his adeptness in the interview setting? Media training, experience, or is he just a natural?
Beckford: Usain has learned and continues to learn his business. He puts himself into his work, so he catches on really fast. We do role playing sometimes, but we are always relaxed together, so it helps.
Q: How have you maintained a healthy balance for Usain in terms of managing media requests and appearances while he’s training and competing at a world-class level?
Beckford: Easy, we have a timetable and each of his team gets their time – the coach and the rest of us. We do ask for some slack sometimes, but we have our time. Usain also appreciates notice. He does not like surprises, so it makes it easier to plan. We share the schedule on a regular basis and so if anything pops up we can try to accommodate. The requests are plenty though, but we have coped well. We will never be able to facilitate all, but we try our best.
Q: What are the primary factors you consider when looking at sponsorship/endorsement deals on behalf of Usain?
- Usain’s brand has international appeal
- Usain’s sport is different
- Usain’s personality is endearing
- We look at earning ability, partnership (medium to long-term), and then impact on specific demographics
Q: What are the ways in which you have assisted Usain in leveraging his celebrity to give back to the community?
Beckford: The Usain Bolt Foundation focuses on children and we plan activities, programs and look at specific contributions aimed at social, cultural and educational growth. I am the CEO and I do all the groundwork with the advice of a Board.
Q: What type of charitable organizations or pro-social marketing campaigns does Usain support?
- Children under 12
- Health facilities (in his community and the Bustamante Hospital for Children)
- He partners with his sponsors for donations to Haiti, etc.
- He is a mentor to a group of young men in boys’ homes
Q: What else would you like people to know about your professional association with Usain?
Beckford: Usain’s impact on the sport of track and field and Jamaica has been positive and I am happy to be a part of that. Usain makes it easy to work for him as he is one of the coolest dudes to work with – not without a little stubbornness of course. We do get along.
Follow Carole Beckford on Twitter.