5 Things Your Organization Can Learn From NBC & The Olympics

Posted by on August 15, 2012 in charity, Non-Profit, PR+Social Media

I love the Olympics. I also enjoy social media. Those two facts make the London games, the “social media” games, a treat to watch. It’s also brought a lot of issues to the forefront of the conversation. I had read about the hate towards the coverage by NBC and got to experience the “travesty” that was their coverage firsthand while I was in Chicago and it got me thinking so without further ado here’s…

5 Things Your Organization Can Learn From NBC & The Olympics

 1. Know Your Goals. Make Decisions That Help Get You There.

NBC’s goal is not to provide the viewer with the best possible experience. Their goal is to get the most eyeballs glued to the tube during primetime for the sake of ratings, advertising dollars and market share. With that goal in mind I have no issue with their decision to tape delay their broadcast and have less than stellar other coverage (online and other channels). Will investing in social media help you reach your goal? If so, do it. If not, don’t. Don’t “do it” just because everyone else is or you think you should. NBC knew their goals and made decisions to help get them there and you should do the same. But…

2. Your Brand Comes from Peoples’ Experience. Not You Reaching Your Goal.

At what cost has/is NBC reaching those goals however? They have suffered numerous “gaffes” (my favourite is when they spoiled their own upcoming program with their own promo commercial), created a new (and not good) hashtag and incurred the wrath of many an upset blogger. People are generally upset with the coverage and should they have any other option to watch the Olympics, they don’t, they would. The damage has been done so the end result may not be seen for a while. At what cost is your organization refusing to invest in things like social media? Will the impact be seen next year? In year 3? Always keep in mind that you need to…

3. Find The True Reason for Success (or Failure).

Looking simply at the ratings for NBC you would say they were a “success”. But when you dig deeper into the criticisms, push back and all out “revolt” it is hard to say that NBC’s brand is much better off now then they were before. Nonprofits do this all the time with their fundraising numbers. Revenues are up (yay!) so let’s increase the budget and keep growing (yay!). Except the growth came from a few major gifts that are not sustainable or spread out over the coming years and you actually had fewer donations and fewer new donors. Finding false success (or false failure) can be extremely detrimental to organizations and fundraising programs. Be sure you can…

4. Make Changes When Things Appear to Be “Good”.

NBC has the rights to the Olympic coverage so they could conceivably wait until their contract is up, make a bunch of promises on how things will be different in the future and possibly get the contract again but they would be much better off making some changes now or as soon as they can while they still have the contract. When things are “good” or your organization is having “success” it is easy to put it on coast and not look for improvements, ways to keep innovating or growing. Knowing the underlying factors of the success (or failure) is key but having the stones to make the necessary changes while things “look” good is also paramount. Never forget that…

5. Cash Flow May Be King, But Thinking Long-Term Builds Kingdoms.

NBC spent a fortune on securing the games and had to get the eyeballs and advertisers in prime time so they didn’t go bankrupt but by putting themselves in that position they may have allowed others to have a shot at winning the next contract. Something largely believed to be a proverbial “gold mine”. Yes your organization has to pay its staff and bills as well as spend a bit (wish it was more) on fundraising and marketing. But if that is your only concern you stand very little chance of having long-term and sustainable success. If you keep your doors open or programs thriving for another year that is good. If those doors close or those programs deteriorate the year after that it could literally be death.

It will be interesting to see how NBC alters their coverage in the next game(s) or if they do at all. Perhaps they are too far ahead of the pack in terms of securing the next contract and they will get it anyways and be able to do what they want because viewers have few other options. I can almost guarantee you however that you and your organization will not be so lucky.



Brady has spent his career in marketing and fundraising for international development organizations. He received his Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration with a concentration in fundraising management from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois where he is also an adjunct professor at the School of Business and Nonprofit Management. Currently, Brady lives in Vancouver, BC where he is the Strategic Director for Charity Express, a digital agency focused on strategy and execution for small and medium sized nonprofit organizations changing our world.

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