The first Olympic Winter Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. Since then, the world has been enjoying the dynamic and competitive nature of these tournaments. With all of the research, planning and execution required to have a successful event, the Olympics are essentially their own public relations campaign. So how can a long-standing event evolve to make each year special? How do you come up with and incorporate fresh ideas into a recurring event?
Let’s take a look at a few Olympics tactics that would work well for any long-in-the-tooth event or campaign:
- New location: The Winter Olympics are hosted every four years in a different location that is chosen by a committee. The anticipation of naming the next host city and the excitement in exploring the globe is part of what makes the Olympics a popular subject each turn. When planning client conferences or staging campaign events, consider switching up your location. Holding a conference in the same city at the same venue every year just isn’t going to cut it – expect to receive a ‘zero’ from the judges.
- New activities: If you don’t expect someone to show up for a conference that’s been in the same place the last decade, you can hardly blame them for not wanting to hear the same lectures or speakers and participate in the same agenda. This year, there are 12 additional competitions on the Winter Games roster. Through the years, many sports have come and gone in an effort to mix up the agenda and provide viewers with something new to look forward to. Don’t leave your clients skating on thin ice – suggest something unique!
- New pizazz: While pizazz is not an official term on the public relations checklist, it’s the general concept that you should consider when freshening up client campaigns. The word might mean something different to every client: a new speaker, a new theme, a different time of year – heck, even new food! For 2014, Olympic uniforms are turning heads. One Brandware Public Relations client is a fan of choosing a different theme each year and coming up with taglines and designs to accompany it – just one extra touch to make the event special.
I encourage you to consider these winning ideas and take home the gold for your client events in 2014! If you’re interested in the event/campaign development process or on-site support Brandware can provide, please drop us a line.
Image “Olympic Shadows” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr used by CC 2.0 / Cropped from original.
Okay, time for a pop quiz!
- Is your company facing any reputational risks?
- What would happen if a member of your leadership team resigned today? Was arrested?
- What would you do if the FDA recalled one of your products?
If your company doesn’t know the answers to these questions, you could find yourself in the middle of a crisis storm in the worst way possible – unprepared.
A company’s reputation is based on three things: what the company says, what it does and what the general public thinks and says. The latter is most important and the one factor you can’t control. However, whether the public has a negative, neutral or positive opinion, actions can always be taken to safeguard or improve reputation. Warren Buffett once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Reputation management is a 24/7 gig. It’s anticipating events or news that will negatively affect your company’s reputation, and having a plan to address issues immediately. The plan can be a basic outline of information, such as who should be notified if the unthinkable occurs, who’s the spokesperson for incoming questions and what are the key messages. A more elaborate plan would include drafts of customer letters, a press release and pre-written copy for the company’s website. While a complete “storm manual” is ideal, a few basics are better than nothing.
Crisis preparedness is similar to storm preparation in that you stock up on non-perishable items. For hurricanes, it’s non-perishable food. For a crisis, focus on gathering all of the “non-perishable” facts about the situation. These are proof points that will not change – such as an existing company policy. Share this information and basic FAQs with the individuals responsible for answering questions on behalf of your company, so they are confident in their responses.
However, unlike for an impending hurricane, don’t board up the windows. Lines of communication should be left open – not closed. When a crisis strikes, have clear channels for addressing concerns, whether that’s extending customer service phone support hours or expanding social media management teams to monitor those platforms. Also, don’t turn people away. Sometimes before and during storms, citizens are sent away from the city. During a crisis, no one with a question should be turned away. Whatever happens, “No comment,” is not an appropriate answer unless you’d like to give the impression you’re trying to hide something by avoiding the question.
How will your company handle its next crisis communications storm? If it’s not clear, be prepared for some very rough weather.
Restaurants thrive or fail based on a number of factors, one of which is customer service. Good customer service is something I truly appreciate as a restaurant patron, and after a pleasant experience I often think about the factors that made it so.
I had the opportunity to attend St. Cecilia’s friends and family soft launch and was thoroughly impressed. However, I wasn’t surprised; Rocket Farm has made a name for itself with nationally-renowned gourmet Atlanta eateries like The Optimist and King + Duke. In addition to the delicious food, I observed the following effective customer service tactics:
Remain vigilant, accountable and proactive. St. Cecilia strategically positions server assistants as sentinels to ensure that guest and restaurant needs are swiftly met. Rather than focusing on sections, they view the whole restaurant as their responsibility. Server assistants were always on hand to help serve so that entire courses could be delivered simultaneously and no one at a table was left waiting. Dishes and silverware were bussed within a minute of completing each course.
Anticipating client needs instead of simply responding to client requests creates new opportunities for up-sells. Community managers are more effective when they are empowered to observe and respond to negative feedback on social media. Trade shows are more successful when everyone in the booth automatically steps up to talk to visitors, as those visitors are all potential leads.
Make customers feel special. No business, culinary or otherwise, can surpass St. Cecilia in the realm of courtesy. Our server, Tex, proactively advised me that the veal would sell out soon in case we wanted to order it (which we did, as it turned out). Even though he was quite busy, Chef Ford Fry personally came to our table to ask if we were enjoying our bread.
Little gestures can go a long way toward fostering lasting business relationships. Acknowledging client birthdays, milestones and achievements are a great way to show interest beyond mechanical business transactions. Involving high-profile or highly-qualified executives in meetings helps convey the importance of the client’s success.
Test or offer pro bono hours to refine your service. The friends and family soft launch was a valuable opportunity for St. Cecilia to field test the various parts of the kitchen and simultaneously recruit customers to help spread the word. The evening concluded with free response comment cards so guests could leave their feedback.
Offering a new service or launching a new practice area? Consider giving a discount, perhaps in the form of free or reduced-cost work, in exchange for uncensored feedback or customer referrals. Another option: testing with your own or imaginary campaigns. Minor speed bumps are pretty common with any new undertaking, and it’s better for those bumps to show up prior to an expensive or critical campaign.
Photo credit Bryce Clark. Used with express permission.
New Year’s resolutions are traditionally all about giving things up. Well, if you want to deprive yourself of life’s little pleasures (sugar, caffeine, nicotine and robust reds come to mind), that’s your business. We wish you good luck in shedding the vices of your choice. Here at Brandware Public Relations, we’ll keep grinding the java beans, uncapping the occasional craft beer or cabernet, and enjoying Lindley’s cinnamon buns and Kelly’s cheesecakes. We’re not without resolutions, of course: here’s a roundup of pledges that we think are essential to communications success for 2014 and beyond.
PRetty It Up. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, infographic or video – a picture is worth much more than 1,000 words in today’s visual content-driven communications environment. Once upon a time, images were created to support words – today an effective visual stands on its own. Google “visual content” for hundreds of supporting statistics – for 2014, we’ll make sure client campaigns include budget for impactful visuals. – Elke Martin
Crisis PReparedness. The pace and reach of communication aren’t going anywhere but up in 2014, which means news or rumors challenging a brand’s reputation can travel quickly. That’s why we’ll continue to focus client attention on investing time to think through the most likely crisis scenarios. Preparing strategic countermeasures, such as an official statement, press release or “dark” Web page, can be invaluable. – Lisa Aloisio
PRioritize. The ideal scenario for many clients is to be well known by the largest possible number of people. However, the type and number of targets and the tactics available to reach them are dependent upon finite budgets, news cycles and client preferences. We’ll be sure to help clients determine their top goals and then focus on the channels and audiences which best facilitate those goals. – Andrew Saluke
PRomise to Strengthen Relationships. PR professionals around the country would give anything for the valuable face time I’m afforded (and occasionally take for granted) by living in Gotham. In 2014, I plan to tap back into my inner “social butterfly” to continue building and strengthening media relationships in person – not just with my PDA! We’ll encourage clients to consider more experiential initiatives that connect them face-to-face with target customers as well. – Lindsay Wagner
PRune Away. We hear it from everyone: clients, media and industry contacts are all in a seemingly never-ending state of communication overload, and there seems to be no end in sight. It’s easy to “overshare,” especially when you work with enthusiast brands. We’ll do our part this coming year to say more with fewer words. – Jeff Perlman
PRedetermine success metrics. Landing a New York Times story is a big win, right? In a time when the success or failure of a communications campaign isn’t measured by media impressions alone, the answer is: it depends. That’s why determining key performance indicators BEFORE launching a PR program is crucial. Whether the goal is media coverage to gain new investors or drive traffic to an online store locator, we’ll ensure that measurement is built into the strategy and planning phase so that both clients and the agency know up-front how success will be defined. – Kelly Nichols
PRovoke. People these days tend to pay the most attention to what others in their social circles have to share with them. So, how do you get a client’s brand and products in front of these ‘superfan’ influencers? For 2014, we’ll help more clients understand how it’s done – and why it’s worth budgeting more time for this often labor-intensive work. – Adrienne Jaubert
PRep the Team. During a communications campaign, the focus is usually on crafting messages for external customers, like media or consumers. However, it’s just as important to keep internal communication in mind so everyone from the CEO to the intern is informed and on the same page. We’ll make sure that clients don’t neglect this most critical constituency. – Anthony Popiel