An Open Letter to The International Olympics Committee


Dear International Olympics Committee,

Though I was unable to attend the Olympics this year, I can say that I have been watching as many hours as humanly possible, and I have to say kudos on the opening ceremony. It was breathtaking.

The Olympics are a fantastic time to watch all the sports that you only care about once every four years.The event has a spectacular way about bringing the world together, but as is the case with any gathering of people, you have to listen to what they have to say. In a world where almost everyone has a mobile device with a powerful camera, and the world at their fingertip, you have to be on your game at all times.

Whether you like it or not, the Sochi Olympics are a brand that has been doing a horrible job with brand management. You can ignore the problems, or you can embrace the facts and do whatever you can to make it better. Good brands help their customers, even when it is their fault. Whatever you do, don’t ever say that journalists are exaggerating because you have cameras in the bathrooms. It’s like prodding a bear (an idea for a new sport in 2018?).

When an Olympic athlete and member of the US Bobsled team (in the social industry, we’d call this guy an influencer) has a problem with his door and is unable to leave through normal means, DON’T IGNORE IT.

Literally, almost ANY response would have been better than radio silence. Here are a couple sample responses…

@JohnnyQuinnUSA Whoa! That is definitely not normal. We’re really sorry about that. We’ll get it fixed ASAP.”

@JohnnyQuinnUSA We messed up. New door is on it’s way. DM us for details on a replacement room with a door that works.”

The point is that your brand, the Sochi Olympics, are responsible to the people that are in your care now, and you can ignore it, but that doesn’t mean the conversation stops. In fact, the lack of response just means that more people will join in on the conversation, and more people start to make fun of something that you’ve worked really hard on.

In fact, more people follow @SochiProblems than the official Sochi handle @Sochi2014. I’m not saying that they’re all legit, but let’s face it, it doesn’t look good for the organization. Why isn’t there a team of community managers to respond to those complaints in real time in multiple languages? I’ll personally volunteer for the English team. Care and concern go a long way, especially when the world is watching.

In closing, whether you’re the Olympics, or a small shop around the corner, conversations are happening about your brand online to some degree and it’s best to take those conversations seriously.  As I said, you can ignore the conversation. Disasters can be mitigated, but only if you have someone manning the boards.


Chris Jones

P.S. You should also consider grabbing your name on all social channels, whether a big or small brand, so this doesn’t happen to you.


photo credit: clevercupcakes via photopin cc


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