By the Numbers: A Spotlight on Sochi

Sochi, Russia, provides the ideal combination of resort-town feel and proximity to mountains and snowbanks necessary to host a successful Winter Games. (Photo property of Nick DeLuca,

With the first images of Sochi coming across our television sets, millions the world over have gotten a glimpse at a Russia we’ve never known existed. Of course the frozen Siberian tundra and pop culture images from James Bond films, and the World War II/Cold War eras are conjured. But we forget that it’s 2014 and Russia is the largest country in the world – its borders span farther south than the frigid Arctic Circle.

When the city of Sochi placed its bid in 2007 for the XXII Olympic Winter Games, it promised the world a new Russian experience. Here’s a little bit to know about the town:


(Courtesy of
(Courtesy of

Sochi is located in the Krasnodar Krai federal subject, in Russia’s Southern Federal District. It sits on the east banks of the Black Sea, mere miles from the border with Georgia. It is one of the southernmost points on the Russian land that juts south between Russia and the Ukraine, a far cry from the frozen tundra we’re used to knowing. It sits south and west of the Caucasus Mountains, encircled perfectly to host a series of winter sports events.


Sochi is a mid-sized city, with a population of nearly 350,000 people, a slightly smaller population than that of New Orleans, La. As of the last census-taking in Russia, it is the country’s 52nd most populous city. Sochi residents should by now be prepared for the expectation of more than 120,000 spectators filling in the Olympic complex each day. Having experienced a similar regular influx of people for events like LSU football games in Baton Rouge, La., and the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, I can tell you that this often brings traffic, tension and irritation, but it also has the potential for some pretty great memories and cultural experiences.

Setting and Culture

As mentioned, Sochi enjoys some pretty warm temperatures for what we’d expect from Russia (it’s 50 degrees as of this typing), and it’s Russia’s largest resort town. Nearly two million people visit annually, and regularly hosts tourists and Russians looking for a break from daily life, as well as a prominent Russian film festival. The city has hosted a major sporting event before – the Silk Way Rally road race – and will also host the Russian Grand Prix Formula One race later this year, with the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming its way in 2018.


Sochi is in the Moscow Time Zone (UTC+04:00), nine hours ahead of the United States’ East Coast. So expect some early morning watching or set your DVR and enjoy the prime time coverage.

Here’s some more By the Numbers facts pulled together by NBC New York.


2014 Winter Olympics – Daily Schedule for February 8

Good morning y’all!  The 2014 Winter Olympics are off and running, and as promised, we’ll be providing daily schedules of the rundown of events, highlighting medal rounds and giving you times and TV listings.

Sochi, Russia, is nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so while there are a number of events that you will be able to watch live on NBC and affiliates (they provide thorough real-time coverage on the weekends and some during the week), the network will use its primetime slot (typically beginning at 8 p.m. ET) to re-air the day’s main events via tape-delay. Check out your local TV listings here.

For today (Saturday, Feb. 8), there’s a full slate of events, but thankfully the Winter Olympics features a much smaller variety of events than the Summer Games, so the list will be short. Unless otherwise indicated, the listed event time will also be its TV airtime (events slated for tape-delay re-air during primetime will be noted).

2014 Olympic Winter Games – Day 2 Schedule

* – Medal Event

  • 12:30 a.m.: Snowboarding, Men’s Slopestyle Semifinals. Americans Chas Guldemond, Ryan Stassel and Sage Kotsenburg compete for a spot in the final later this morning.
  • 1:00 a.m.: Alpine Skiing, Women’s Super-Combined Training
  • 2:00 a.m.: Alpine Skiing, Men’s Downhill Training
  • 3:00 a.m.: Women’s Hockey, Team USA takes on Finland in Group A Play
  • *3:45 a.m.: Snowboarding, Men’s Slopestyle Finals
  • *5:00 a.m.: Cross-Country Skiing, Women’s Skiathlon 15km (Classic + Free) Final. Americans Liz Stephen, Jessica Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Holly Brooks will go for Team USA’s first-ever cross-country skiing medal, though none are expected to seriously contend.
  • *6:30 a.m.: Speedskating, Men’s 5000m Final. 
  • 8:00 a.m.: Women’s Hockey, Canada vs. Switzerland in Group A Play
  • 9:30 a.m.: Figure Skating, Team Ice Dance Short Dance
  • 9:30 a.m.: Luge, Men’s Singles Run 1
  • *9:30 a.m.: Biathlon, Men’s 10km Sprint Final
  • 11:10 a.m.: Figure Skating, Team Ladies Short Program
  • 11:30 a.m.: Luge, Men’s Singles Run 2
  • 11:30 a.m.: Ski Jumping, Men’s Normal Hill Qualifying
  • *1:00 p.m.: Skiing, Women’s Moguls Finals
  • 1:05 p.m.: Figure Skating, Team Pairs Free Skate

Crisis/Contingency Planning is Always a Good Idea

Crisis/Contingency Planning is Always a Good Idea

While NBC hasn’t yet shown the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics to America yet (7:30 p.m. ET), one spoiler we’re glad to know is that the ceremonies occurred without a security incident. Sochi and the Russian leadership have been scrutinized globally for shoddy infrastructure and perceived security lapses in the face of bold terror threats, but so far, so good.

That’s good news for the sponsors who have shelled out millions of dollars to be part of the Games, and many who do so every two years. It’s a good time to be an advertiser, but this year, it comes with a greater risk.

I’m sharing USA Today’s piece, “Olympic sponsors on edge before Winter Games,” but I think it’s important that the need for contingencies and crisis management should be emphasized in all communications campaigns, whether they involved a high-profile global event like the Olympics or a consumer product line launch. Things happen that we can neither predict nor control, but if we know there’s even the slightest possibility our best-laid plans could be derailed, why would we not prepare for it?

Often communications teams will want to push for these plans, but be spurned in the process. It doesn’t need to be a massive, written plan; in fact, it can’t be, as crisis response is an ongoing and living situation. But even the most skeletal of contingency plans is better than no plan at all. 

2014 Winter Olympics Podcast – Day 1 & 2


Welcome to my blog coverage and commentary for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia!

If you’re familiar with my Olympics blogging from two years ago in London, welcome back and thanks for reading! I plan to bring back several of the features from 2012, including the daily rundown of events and TV listings, as well as guest posts on the winter sports, life in Russia, Team USA fashion and much more.

Additionally, I will post a podcast each morning highlighting the previous day’s events and plugging the current day’s schedule and TV listings.

Here’s today’s podcast, summarizing Day 1 and leading into Friday’s Opening Ceremony, which you can watch tape-delayed on NBC’s coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. (The Ceremony begins at 11 a.m. ET if you want to find a live stream online.) Sochi, Russia, is 9 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S., so get used to the tape-delay, or inform your employer you’ll be sick “for the next two weeks or so” to catch the streams online.

Thanks for listening!

UPDATE:  The podcast indicates that only Jamie Anderson and Karly Shorr of Team USA qualified for the slopestyle final round. Anderson’s and Shorr’s performances earned them automatic bids in the final heat for slopestyle, while the five remaining Americans on the slopestyle team have the opportunity to earn bids via the semifinal rounds this weekend. Shaun White has already withdrawn from this event due to an injured wrist, but he’s good to go thus far for the halfpipe – his signature event.

PR Knuckleballs: Hidden Communications Opportunities

With a growing number of voices shouting for attention in a shrinking world, it can be a task to get messages across. We have to get creative. Much like baseball pitchers, it helps to have a varied arsenal of tactical approaches. But it doesn’t always take a fastball – a headline in The New York Times or a glitzy campaign – to score a win. Sometimes, it just takes a keen eye and an opportunistic approach, like a knuckleball.

Here’s a post I authored for the Kellen Company blog on some “hidden” communications opportunities to watch out for.