EURO HAMMER 2012
Mariusz Pleban, 7.06.2011
I hear nothing but bad news about the preparation for Football Championships Euro 2012. Stadiums will not be finished on time. It turns out, for example, that concrete stairs can turn into an elevator once people step on it. A real horror. The Chinese contractors thought that Polish workers would work for a bowl of rice. And finally. it is likely that the Covec company, which is responsible for the construction of the longest part of the new motorway linking Warsaw and Łódź, will withdraw from its contract and return to Beijing. Another big disappointment. Faced with all that, how can one remain optimistic?
Well, you can. Euro 2012 eventually will take place and will be a massive event in 'near countries'. At present, Poland is a little bit on the margin, or—as the Americans say—' in the middle of nowhere'. A typical US citizen does not include Poland in their map of the world. Indeed, they've heard something about Lech Wałęsa or WWII, and know a few Polish jokes. But when they plan their trip to Poland, their itinerary (travel documents) hardy features any specific destinations. That is because Poland struggles to compete with such widely recognized brands as Paris, Rome, London, Barcelona, or Berlin. So, before anything can happen in June and July of 2012. Poland will get the chance to raise its visibility and hammer its presence into international opinion (with a psychological hammer, of course). Euro 2012 is a perfect opportunity to do this.
I can already hear all those comments: 'we're never going to make it, the whole event would be a disaster'. Well, come to think of it, Greece didn't finish building the stadiums until several days before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. It doesn't really matter what they will write about us. What is important is that they write the name our country correctly. Why? Because we have to remind the rest of the world of our existence. That's our big chance. Of course, providing our infrastructure is safe. We don't want hammers (this time real, not psychological) to fall on the heads of visitors, do we?
What will happen after Euro 2012? Poland will be 'closer to the word'. We will become a widely recognized brand: a country which is only a stone's throw away from Berlin, and an excellent 'outset for further travels across around Europe'. How would we recognize that Euro was a success? For me, the first symbol of change should be the contracts signed by Polish airports, most likely of Warsaw and Cracow, for the opening of new intercontinental air connections. Let the American fly to Poland in their own airlines. Let the Chinese choose their favorite airlines—China Airlines for instance. Let Singapore Airlines bring to Poland passengers from India and Australia. The marketing potential of these companies is as important as air itself. LOT Polish Airlines could also benefit from that by opening new long-distance connections and transporting passengers across other cities in Europe. Only then would I believe that Euro made any sense. That it encouraged the airlines' decision-makers to meet the demand and take the risk of opening new connections. Only then would we witness money and know-how, which are the energy fueling economic development, pouring into Poland
How come passengers are not coming to Poland already? They're comfort-loving. Poles are used to having to change their flight twice or even three times during one journey. However, for a citizen of a 'well-interconnected' country, traveling is simple and easy: they take a taxi, drive to the airport and fly directly to their port of destination. Therefore, every change of flights is considered to be a major inconvenience. That is why travelers are more likely to choose Paris, Rome, London, Barcelona, or Berlin. So, dear organizers of Euro 2012, please, do not spoil my dream and use your chance to promote Poland wisely!
PS But let's come down to earth and see what others—in this case a citizen of South Africa—think of the impact of massive events, such as FIFA 2010 World Cup to counterbalance our (my) optimism. Evelyn John Holtzhausen, CEO of PR HWB Communications and member of Public Relations Global Network: