Bing UK Search Advertising Lead, Kate Newton, is settling back into her daily routine after the experience of a lifetime volunteering at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
She was one of 70,000 volunteers, also known as ‘Games Makers’, working across the two hugely successful sporting events and was part of the specialist team responsible for updating and maintaining the London 2012 website during Games time.
She said: “The whole volunteering experience was incredible from start to finish. It was hard work, long unsociable hours and at times pretty stressful, but I loved every minute of my time with the Website and New Media Team. I will definitely continue to volunteer again here in London and the wider UK – in fact my application to be a volunteer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has already been submitted. I’m also contemplating my application for the next Summer Olympic Games in Rio in 2016!”
“As a Games Maker volunteer we were very busy working on various parts of the website during our shifts. Everyone involved had a real ‘can-do’ approach and help from a colleague, if you ever needed it, was always on hand. Most of the team works in new media or manage websites professionally, so if there were any problems we’d just ask each other. It was fantastic working in a team with such a wealth of professional online experience and knowledge to draw upon.
“There were almost 6,000 members of the world’s media constantly working to tight deadlines in and around the Main Press Centre (MPC) where I was based. Consequently there was a real buzz about the place. It was fantastic knowing that the London 2012 website would be invaluable for all visitors. Aside from the greatly rich TV coverage the website was one of the main ways that people accessed and enjoyed the Games. Consequently our team were in the spotlight and we had to get it right.”
The London 2012 website was developed with a global audience in mind and the dedicated team that Kate was part of were committed to creating inspiring news stories, providing medal updates, and building memorable photo galleries from the 5,000 daily images provided by Getty Images photographers. The content had to be engaging, fast and accurate to inspire people across the globe. The team also employed social and mobile media by using Facebook and Twitter, to make London 2012 ‘Everyone’s Games’. In so doing, the team offered everything from key information for spectators to updates on events.
“At peak times we were asked to issue a London 2012 tweet every 10 - 15 minutes to ensure people had up-to-date information. As you can imagine on ‘Super Saturday’ when 25 gold medals were in the offering and Team GB securing three of them in under half-an-hour in the Athletics Stadium, it was pretty full-on!” said Kate.
To provide some context on what the web team delivered over the 18 days of Olympic competition; the London 2012 website had 109 million unique users from across 226 territories, 15 million mobile apps downloads, 4.73 billion page views and 4.7 million social media followers. Putting those figures further into context, the website reached three times more people than the BBC's Olympic website and reaching twice as many people as the BBC's TV coverage. “That’s not bad going for a group of 20 full time LOCOG staff and 40 volunteers working round-the-clock for 18 days solid!” said Kate. “It’s fantastic to reflect on what we collectively achieved as volunteers and I am immensely proud of what we helped deliver.
“Seb Coe’s Closing Ceremony speech that ‘The Games Makers made London 2012' has left me feeling quite overwhelmed and humbled by the appreciation that the athletes and general public have shown to all Game Makers.” Kate is passionate about volunteering, fundraising and sport and participates in a number of sports herself such as: cross-fit, marathon walking, swimming and hiking; but this was the first time she had ever volunteered at an international sporting event. “I enjoy nothing more than giving something back to the wider community, and being able to combine this with my passion for sport and fitness I knew from the moment London won the bid to host the Games back in 2005 that I wanted to get actively involved and contribute to the success of London 2012.
“As well as being selected as a Games Maker I was lucky enough to secure tickets for the women’s Volleyball quarter-finals and the women’s Hockey gold medal final between Holland and Argentina during my time at the Games. I really enjoyed all of the sport that I got to watch in person, the atmosphere in all of the Olympic venues was just electrifying!
“For me this has truly been a summer like no other. I’m incredibly grateful that Microsoft UK actively encourages volunteering amongst all their full-time employees by offering three days volunteering leave per-year. My immediate colleagues and managers within the Bing UK business have been nothing but super-supportive of my volunteering projects over the last few years. I look forward to sharing my experiences and the new skills and ideas which I’ve developed with them over the coming months.
Well done Kate!
Microsoft Advertising UK Marketing Communications Manager