How businesses can get in on the Olympic action…

The countdown to the London 2012 Olympics has begun. And through Osprey’s work with charities, Active Sussex and Active Surrey, along with our representation of Peter Mitchell – Olympic hopeful in the cycling team – we are witnessing first-hand the impact the Games is already having on local communities.

All eyes are already firmly on our country, and more specifically London, as an analysis of how we both cope with and take advantage of the Games will be firmly under the microscope. Tens of thousands of fans from the across the globe will descend into London, including approximately 7,500 journalists. This will clearly put businesses, and sectors such as transport and hospitality, in the spotlight. Whether they prevail is a different argument which will warrant an answer in September, post-Olympic Games.

However, this isn’t just about creating a sporting legacy in the UK. This is an opportunity for businesses too; an opportunity that is unlikely to appear again for a generation. So here are some tips as to ways brands and businesses, large and small, can get in on the Olympic act. But you must be quick, as when that starting pistol blasts, a need to be first out of the blocks will be crucial:

– Keep things local: Perhaps you are a small business located within a tight-knit and small community; so what. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a piece of the Olympic action. It certainly isn’t all just about securing national exposure. By thinking that way then you will miss a trick. The public will always support companies who help youngsters get into sport by providing its own tailored initiatives. Therefore you should look for ways your business can support local sports clubs and organisations that provide easy access to get youngsters involved with sport. Smart PR in 2012.

– Brand Britain is something I hear a lot of right now, and it’s refreshing to hear such positivity from a nation who has grown use to moaning about the weather and financial instability. So, as a brand, it’s worth considering pinning yourself with British pride. The best PR move to date, of this kind, is The Sun’s Campaign: “2012 is here, let’s make it great, Britain.” It’s so simple, yet so refined. And with the largest circulation in the UK, The Sun is tapping into a huge audience, most of which are immensely patriotic.

– PR Stunts: Depending on budgets, we all love a PR stunt. What better way for an instant, positive impact for your brand, if done correctly of course. They can create memorable moment and numerous photo opportunities. Surely the Olympics is too good an opportunity to miss out for a clever and creative stunt. It’s the simple ideas which work best – it may be a cliché but it’s true. For example, at the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, M&C Saatchi projected an image of the football columnists writing for its client, The Sun, across Table Mountain, securing numerous hits across international media.

– Take advantage of London: The city is screaming out to be used and abused this summer, prior to, during, and post-Olympics. It can be your PR whore, there’s no doubt about that. The national media are there and it is easily accessible to international journalists flying in. In fact, it’s easily accessible to pretty much all of us, unless you live in the Shetland Islands.

– Sporting ambassadors: Working with both Active Sussex and Active Surrey this year, we are seeing first-hand how the services of an ambassador helps to capture the excitement of the London 2012 Games and increase the numbers of people taking part, coaching and running sport in their given county, leaving a positive and lasting Olympic legacy.

Something special is happening in sport now, this instant. And together, as businesses, charities, the media and communities, we can ensure a sporting legacy has been built for generations to come.

Sport can evoke all emotions in a matter of seconds: Pain; glory; fear; ecstasy; pride; anger; sadness; frustration and joy.

In other words; sport makes us feel alive. And it can unite. And we can’t forget how instrumental businesses will be this summer too.

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