This summer, the world’s eyes will be focused on the long-awaited showpiece elements of the Olympics in London. If all goes to plan, those behind the scenes will barely be noticed, credited perhaps once the show rolls out of town after the Paralympics closing ceremony on 9th September.
With many organisations and corporate entities preparing for a huge communications push over the summer period, many big-name reputations will encounter an unprecedented level of global scrutiny. All of this naturally impacts on the back stage, unnoticed business function. Surely the strongest communications campaigns must be built on the soundest foundations?
For this reason, successful reputation-building activity during the Olympics will inherently rely on well executed internal communications. We anticipate that the vast majority of communications activity and direct media responses will be demanded in real time throughout the games, with particularly high expectations being placed upon sponsors.
With almost 900,000 additional Olympic visitors set to descend on the Capital, the combined proliferation of smartphones and ever-widening social networks could present a headache for any business looking to uphold and enhance their reputation. This issue becomes even more of a concern if existing communications strategies are not nimble enough to respond effectively, should something go wrong. All signs suggest that 2012 is the year that the iPhone-wielding Twitter reporter cements their position as the arch story-breaker. Undoubtedly, the multi-channel, all-engaging London Olympics could not offer a better arena (wifi connection permitting) for this brand of instant access news to reach new heights.
There is, of course, a real worry that news will travel faster than many organisations’ staff. Despite grim predictions of queues for the underground and the ongoing debate over ‘games lanes’ there seems to be a widespread feeling of ‘we’ll wait and see’ amongst London’s corporates. According to a recent survey by YouGov, only 23% of companies have any plans in place to deal with the likely transport difficulties. It goes without saying that any crisis is harder to handle if key personnel are stuck on a Jubilee Line carriage somewhere under London’s streets.
If these operational difficulties can be overcome, or at least mitigated by considered internal and external communications planning, the London Olympics will offer UK business a huge number of positive reputational opportunities. Crucially, corporates will have the chance to reach out to a worldwide audience in new ways, driving cross-channel engagement through both conventional and social media outlets.
If the teams behind these organisations are well briefed, well prepared and – most importantly – able to work effectively, then who knows? London might just be able to pull this thing off in style.