Thought Leadership

3 Things Communicators Can Learn From UCLA Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi

This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on Clairemont Communications.

On Jan. 12, UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi became a viral sensation after performing a enthusiastic routine that earned a perfect score at the Collegiate Challenge.

But the strong internet response wasn’t only because of Ohashi’s flawless moves; it was also due to the palpable joy she and her teammates displayed during the performance, which has now been streamed on YouTube over 26 million times.

Though public relations may seem unrelated to gymnastics, communicators can actually learn a few things from Ohashi’s perfect routine:

1. Display your personality.

By winning over the crowd with her beaming smile and signature dance moves, Ohashi teaches us the importance of adding your own personal style and creativity into every campaign you approach.

As you get ready to build your brand, think about how you can add some extra special, outside-the-box flare. What makes your brand or idea stand out? While Ohashi has some jaw-dropping combinations of tumbling in her routine, it is her extra touch of personality that really wins the audience over.

2. Fight through adversity.

Ohashi may be an athlete with world-class talent, but she has also experienced something that everyone has as some point: burnout. She was once an Olympic-track gymnast with dreams of representing Team USA. She ended up leaving that trajectory to pursue a more suitable lifestyle and a gymnastics career at UCLA.

While she might have left her Olympic dreams behind, she is anything but ordinary. Ohashi shows us that even if your first plan or strategy does not work out, that does not mean you have to settle for less. Always be on the lookout for a fresh and creative approach, whether it is for your own brand, one of your clients or a campaign you are trying to create. Just because you choose a different way, doesn’t mean it is the wrong way.

3. Perfect your routine.

Just like in gymnastics, presentation is everything for PR professionals. You can have a great idea, but if you can’t frame it in a way that hooks your audience, it is going to fall short. From the moment she steps onto the floor, Ohashi has everyone’s attention. Her radiant smile and strategic presentation only strengthen her routine.

Gymnasts train for years to perfect their landings and the positioning of their legs on the floor and uneven bars, just like PR professionals spend days and weeks creating the strategic plans for their organizations and clients.

Katelyn Ohashi might have won over the hearts of America with her flawless floor routine, but she won me over with the PR skills she may not even know she has!


Alex Davis-Isaac is a senior at the University of North Carolina. 

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2 Comments

  • Alex, thank you for using this vivid example to draw a parallel between gymnastics and public relations. The biggest area I have struggled with in PR is letting my personality shine through my work. Watching Ohashi’s floor routine and reading your blog post gave me a clearer picture of how to showcase who I am in a professional setting. Thank you!

  • As a lover of public relations, performing and gymnastics, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article that seamlessly ties all three of these aspects together! Even as professionals, it is so important to let your personality come through and appropriately add your own personal flare in a campaign. Ohashi’s performance truly incorporated important PR skills we can all learn from! -Michaela McLean, writer/editor for Platform Magazine

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