The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Two weeks to go until the 2004 Olympiad in Athens begins. We've all heard the stories of impending doom relating to preparation delays and poor ticket sales, but from Greece's perspective, the biggest shortfall might come from the lost marketing opportunities that normally come from hosting the Olypmics.

Could a better, more coherent and proactive public relations strategy have given the Olympic run-up a whole different complexion?
A second lesson is that the host country has to focus hard, and early, on addressing international concerns in the media to overcome negative perceptions – perceptions that have stuck to the Athens Games like wet clothing. It’s not enough for government officials to hold press conferences and say all is well. "They needed to be ahead of the curve," says [sports business expert Scott] Rosner. "But this (Olympic organizing) committee has turned out to be far more reactive than pro-active. The PR strategy was far too generic." [Cartan Tours sales & marketing VP] Don Williams suggests that a different PR firm might have been a better choice.
It's easy to see the cumulative effect: People think the Games are too much for Greece to handle, they predict a disaster, so they hold off on buying tickets. Re-spinning early would have neutralized this and set things right.

Ready or not, we'll be seeing the action soon.