Further public relations planning lessons courtesy of the London Olympics…
Lesson 1. Stakeholder management:
News that Olympic site firms ‘face closure’ highlights the importance of undertaking a stakeholder analysis and ensuring those affected by the achievement of your strategic goals will not become active and vocal publics.
When you claim to be about London and providing “opportunities for a vast array of businesses“, negative headlines about local firms being forced to relocate are not helpful. Apparently 92% of 200 companies have found new sites, but the London Development Agency (LDA) has confirmed “a small number of companies may have to shut down altogether because they cannot afford the cost of relocation”.
Local residents have also been affected by a compulsory purchase order on their homes – with 15% not yet having found new residences. Of course, this is a massive development and ultimately it should leave a better environment for those living in the area.
But from a critical perspectives approach, the voices of ordinary people, particularly traveller communities, are no match for those with power and control. There have been efforts at discussion – but these more about persuasion rather than equal dialogue.
Of course, the “underdog” is capable of generating negative headlines – and online activism – which serves to reinforce a negative impression about the Games; even if just in the short-term.
Lesson 2: Risk management
Back to the logo debacle – and the withdrawal of the video footage over fears it could cause epileptic attacks. Profesor Graham Harding has claimed some footage fails a test to measure photo-sensitivity levels in television material and so does not comply with Offcom guidelines.
Ensuring compliance is a vital part of any planning activity. Indeed, a check list of risks and likelihood of occurrence is part of the planning documents we cover for the CIPR Advanced Certificate – and should be a common tool in practice.
However, PR practitioners perhaps focus more on crisis management in terms of recovery – ie the importance of addressing issues when the problem has already occurred – than in mitigating risk factors earlier in the planning stage.
In many respects, risk management is much more important and a lesson that we need to focus on and learn. At a strategic level, public relations practitioners must be better equipped at auditing all aspects of communications – and being able to counsel on possible issues, especially when they affect different stakeholders, who become active publics.
Managing risk and being able to build genuine relationships are skills required by PR managers, not just an ability to undertake press agentry and crisis recovery.