PR Strategy Tips

Ten Years Since Securing the Olympics, What’s to Learn?

Posted by Deborah | July 7th, 2015 | No responses


It’s a decade this week since London secured the position as host of the Olympic Games 2012.

Thanks to an impressive presentation by Lord Coe and a great deal of cumulative creativity and logistic insight, Britain was to stage one heck of an international party.

Looking back almost three years since we saw the darlings of the Games emerge, there’s no doubting that the event, and its entire messaging, was a huge success.

Sure, you could argue that we haven’t yet seen full and thorough use created of all the facilities subsequently made redundant, and that we haven’t got every man woman and child wanting to compete on a running track in a future career.

But, that aside, we did see some huge lessons in great marketing and PR from the build-up to, and staging of, the Games that summer.

Here’s a look at some of those aspects and why we should be learning lessons from them:


It’s all about people:

Right from the outset, there was a need to ensure that whether you were five or 55 (or 105) there would be something about the staging of the Games which would entice your enthusiasm.

Marketing tactics built on communications with schools, with sports groups, and of course, with mass communities thanks to the torch-bearer programme and the appeal for huge numbers of volunteers.

Impressively, Locog gathered a database of 5million, simply by tapping into those interested in sport. And a good database goes a long long way!


Know your audiences and pitch perfectly:

Locog recognised the need for different messaging to different potential stakeholders. It knew that it would want to attract corporates as well as individuals, and came up with many tailored approaches to acquire support across sponsorship deals or through committing to hospitality offerings.

It’s marketing approach was less ‘cut throat salesy’ and more ‘helping you enjoy the party’.


Have lead champions but a collective voice:

We all know Seb Coe became THE face and voice of the Games, but there were important other ‘champions’ identified in the mix. This ran from Jess Ennis as a poster girl inside the sport itself, to making champions of community ambassadors, and to recognising people through their volunteer roles.

In a strategic marketing campaign with high stake requirements, it’s great to utilise a similar approach of recognising appropriate spokespeople and drivers, as well as then ensuring your messaging speaks collectively for all those behind the scenes – thus confirming their commitment to your cause.


Anticipate press commentary:

Locog always knew it would be in the line of fire for criticism from the press in certain areas.
Had it spent too much?
Was it building the Park quickly enough?
Was the event inclusive enough?
What would happen afterwards?
There again, the marketing approach was very clear and considered. Messaging was strong and able to withstand the anticipated questioning.

Journalists were given regular updates and interviews, all enabling them to feel comfortable that they were considered as part of the communication activity – not merely used as a proactive pawn for publicity.


Where’s your beginning, middle and end?:

Momentum and timing was really critical in the Games storyline, and Locog pulled it off exceptionally.

Activities UK-wide meant that we had a countdown which excited us, and a steady drip feed of opportunities to engage or to register for our own slice of involvement.

Thought was always given to the aspects of ‘legacy’ too, with Locog perhaps determined to learn from the lessons of some other countries where the Olympics had left them with empty pockets and little else to show.

Knowing what you want your beginning, middle and end to look like is a great consideration, however short your marketing campaign.



Many methods of reach, more chance of success:

Locog chief exec Paul Deighton gave an interview not long before the Games, detailing the length and breadth of marketing channels which had been used.

Database marketing, bus-backs, posters, media relations, social media, newspaper advertising – all had been considered to play their part.

Spreading your choice of channels undoubtedly increases your chance of marketing success, so take a leaf out of the Locog book when considering your next tactics.


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