Manuel Ozaeta, Consultant

For the last few weeks, millions of viewers throughout the globe have been glued to their television sets watching the thirtieth incarnation of the modern Olympiad. Simply known as the Olympics, this 4 year tradition has become part of our television watching habits and water cooler conversations.

Many of the games take-away themes will serve as life lessons to viewers, including the sportsmanship of winners and losers, the importance of practice and perseverance, and as my colleague CeCe Marizu wrote in this venue, learning to accept criticism. To add to the cadre of observations I will add a less romantic and more pragmatic lesson, the logistics of event planning. 

Few cities will measure up to the enormity of planning, preparing and hosting a successful event such as the Olympic Games, even fewer have the resources, time or money. As many disappointed Chicagoans understand, even the consideration process is a logistical puzzle where victory is not assured. Those of us in the realm of public relations may not get the opportunity to plan an event on the scale of the Olympics but we do plan client events as part of comprehensive strategies and can use the games as a template for success.

Some aspects to consider when planning an event:

Attention to detail– From the venues to the uniforms, to the security and the judging, every detail is important and must not be overlooked. Although each city has more than 6 years from announcement to opening ceremonies, the precision of every single aspect will define its overall outcome. As event planners, we must also remember the minutia and other small but significant details that often make the difference in our events. They highlight our creativity and most importantly our clients and guests will appreciate. 

Learning from past mistakes – To ere is human, to correct, makes for a better event. Of course, the goal of any Olympics is to have a seamless tournament with few, unnoticeable mistakes. But even with the best of planning, errors happen. Through forethought, we can plan for the future by observing what went wrong in the past. We can improve, re-evaluate and improve again. It is by following this process that our events will be considered gold medal quality.

Avoid comparisons– Concentration should be placed on holding the best event possible without comparing it to others. In 2008, the Beijing opening ceremonies were enormous, not only from a logistical viewpoint but from an entertainment perspective. London knew it would not be easy to replicate.  However, it is not a fair to comparison for they both completed the task at hand, opening the Olympics games for competition. Our duty as event planners should be to have the best event possible within the parameters and resources we are given, without fear of comparison. 

Although a few days of competition are left before the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, we only have to wait a few more weeks to observe the event planning skills of the Republican and Democratic national conventions. They are coming to a local television station soon, August 27-30 and September 4-6, respectively.