Olympic lesson: Don’t mess up with influencers when you’re in spotlight

by Ron on February 18, 2014

Pug dog in spotlight.We find ourselves in the middle of the Olympics this week, an event that cost at least $50 billion to put on, which puts the showcase country on the world stage. When you have that kind of attention and have spent that kind of money, you want to put your best foot forward, especially with the press.

That’s why it’s so baffling that the organizers treated the press and other early arrivers so badly, putting them up in half finished hotels with bizarre plumbing, screwed up reservations, missing floors in the lobby, broken elevators and even reports of workers actually sleeping in a guest’s beds.

And the press gleefully tweeted their experiences to the world, leaving the Russians, who were hosting the event looking like hapless amateurs.

When you put on an event with influencers at the ready, you need to be sure everything is tip-top. You want to impress because if you mess up, social media and smartphones put your mistakes out in the world in a quick minute. And instead of being your bright and shining moment, you could be left looking foolish.

Conversely if you delight your audience of influencers you will be rewarded because people will see how you shine, how organized you are and what a class organization you run. Social media is a double-edged sword and with a smartphone equipped with a camera and social media apps in every pocket or purse, you are always on display these days, even when your audience might not be the world press.

Every midsize business needs to understand that they are on stage in the white-hot spotlight 24/7 and every mistake and every glory can be magnified –and you have to be ready.

Should you find yourself in a situation like Sochi where it looks really bad, you can at least step in and do some damage control, whether that’s simply fessing up that you weren’t ready, apologizing and offering ways to make it up to customers who were put out –or refuting it if it isn’t true.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with the individual situation, you should have emergency plans in place and you have to realize the power of social media to lift you up and bring you down –while understanding that it can happen very quickly. Who knows what happened in Sochi, but when the press arrived and those tweets started to flow, the damage had already been inflicted. They had blown their moment to impress the world.

Every business, whether you’re Olympic organizers or a real estate office needs to put their best social media foot forward because people are paying attention and if you have the world’s press on your doorstep, it’s even more important that you monitor social media channels and be proactive.

But it’s important to understand that you don’t need to be on the world stage at the Olympics  because social media puts every business in the public eye and if you’re smart, you’re going to be ready.

Photo Credit:  mrgreen09 on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Constantine von Hoffman February 18, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Do you really think Putin gives a damn about these “influencers”? Do you think social media matters to the largest criminal enterprise on the planet? Do you know how many journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin came to power? This isn’t about what’s trending on Twitter. This isn’t about problems with branding. It’s about people being killed and tortured. Get your head or of your ass and look around at the real world.

2 Ron February 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Constantine,
You’re probably so busy lecturing me and leaving rude comments to recognize a metaphor when you see it. It isn’t about Russia. It’s about what happens when you have the spotlight.

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