7 Easy Steps To Avoid An Olympics PR Disaster

02.05.14

AP Photo

You can’t control every aspect of an international event such as the Olympics, but based on past experience, it’s like you guys aren’t even trying. There have been scandals at every Olympic games since time immemorial – okay actually since 668 B.C. when two Greek city-states legitimately went to war over who would host the games – but we never seem to learn. From double checking to make sure your $51 billion budget covers adequate clean water to not pitting warring countries against each other in a game where the players are armed with upper body strength and simmering rage, here are seven easy ways to not create an Olympic-sized scandal in 2016…because it’s already too late for 20

#1 – Do not forget that journalists will be covering every aspect of the Games, including gross hotels.

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With the advent of social media, there is no room for error when it comes to a gathering of this size. ESPECIALLY when you’ve had ten years and over $50 billion to prepare. Do not let the water turn into toxic sludge, do not forget to build a lobby for your hotels, and for the love of everything that is good, do not organize a mass killing of thousands of area stray dogs instead of budgeting in to have them vaccinated and neutered. Shockingly most humans look down on the senseless murder of puppies.

#2 – Do not forget to install metal detectors at the entrances to each building.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle

In theory, the Olympic Games represent the best of the human spirit of friendly competition and striving to come together in sports harmony. In reality, humans are petty and ambitious. Metal detectors help rule out troublesome spectators AND metal baton wielding husbands hellbent on their baby winning that figure skating medal by any means necessary even if it means knee-capping that uppity brunette.

#3 – Do not let your athletes admit they perform under the influence.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nathan Bilow

Repeat: DO NOT LET YOUR ATHLETES ADMIT TO PERFORMING UNDER THE INFLUENCE. This should seem like a no-brainer. After all, who in their right mind is going to admit to doping? No one. However, performance enhancing drugs aren’t the only things Olympians imbibe. Whether admitting they’ve skied while completely sloshed – looking at you Bode Miller – or having their snowboarding gold medal revoked for smoking pot – even if the committee was forced to give it back on a technicality because pot wasn’t on the list of banned drugs (lol) – nothing makes a publicist’s head explode like putting out addiction fires.

  

#4 – Do not forget you live in the 21st century.

Pop quiz! True or false: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram play a vital role in keeping millions of people up-to-the-minute informed about who is winning medals. If you answered ‘True’ congratulations, you aren’t whoever is in charge of programming at NBC. When the games are being held halfway across the world, it might seem like a good idea to show them on tape-delay to get those sweet, sweet prime time Nielsen eyeballs but it is a trap. If you wait until 7pm EST to show the most anticipated event of the day, anyone with a smartphone or within thirty yards of a computer will already know how it ends. Livestream is key with a highlight reel for the two dozen people pretending they live in the news cycle world of 1968.

 

#5 – Do not pit athletes against competition from their home country’s arch nemesis.
Photo Credit: AP Photo

Look we’ve already gone over this, but it is worth hammering the point home (pun half intended). The Olympics are only all ‘Kumbaya’ in theory. In practice – for example – pitting two teams from countries with centuries of pent up aggression in a pool and telling them to play fair will only end in a near-riot in the stands as the players become more and more physical until the entire event culminates in what the media will dub ‘Blood In The Water‘. Another example of how this can only end in violent tears include a New Zealand boxing referee who was physically accosted by the South Korean coach for awarding the match to the Bulgarian athlete because dammit the games were being held in Seoul and therefore the South Koreans should win the gold by default!

#6 – Do not get the flags mixed up.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/James Crossan

Sometimes you get thirty countries competing at the Olympics, and sometimes you have a record breaking two-hundred and six. But even when you’ve got that many flags to keep track of, even if so many of them look alike with their similar colors and weird squiggles and stars and stripes, even then – nay, ESPECIALLY THEN – you should probably hire like one guy who’s entire job is just to keep the flags straight. Otherwise you end up twiddling your thumbs for over an hour because the North Korean women’s soccer team refuses to play because they South Korean flag is flying over their goalpost.

#7 – Do not let your athletes pose for horrifically racist PR images.
Photo Credit: AP Photo

Self-explanatory yes? No, apparently not. Literally at no time ever is it okay to pose for a group photo where everyone is forcing their eyes to ‘slant’ like a Chinese person. Because that is racist as hell. The mind-boggling thing here is there were fifteen people on the Spanish Olympic basketball team and a bevy of publicists, photographers, personal assistants, and coaches who all looked at this image ahead of the Beijing games and thought “What a perfect way to wish our boy’s luck at the Olympics! Print!”

If you can follow these seven easy steps, perhaps 2016 will be a scandal-free year! But not likely.

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