3 communication lessons from Chicago’s failed Olympic bid

Blame it on Rio—and on the city’s PR blunders.

Blame it on Rio—and on the city’s PR blunders

Friday was a heartbreaker for Chicago, a city well familiar with major-league letdowns in October. After years of effort—and millions of dollars—the city’s marketing push to capture the 2016 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games fell short.

The International Olympic Committee picked Rio De Janiero. Out of four finalists, Chicago was the first one ousted from consideration.

I stood among the thousands in Daley Plaza on Friday morning awaiting word from the I.O.C. When the bad news came—and some people literally wept—I thought of three communication failures the city of Chicago and Chicago 2016, the group organizing the city’s pitch, made in its unsuccessful bid for the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

1. The celebrities, not the people, did the talking.

To pitch the games, Chicago rolled out the big guns: Mayor Daley, Oprah, Michelle Obama and, of course, President Obama, to whom the Chicago Tribune referred as “America’s cleanup hitter.” Chicago should have built its final push around its citizens.

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