Pan Am GamesBy Gini Dietrich

On Sunday morning, I was reading my book (almost finished with Primates of Park Avenueor scrolling through Facebook, or pinning images, or I don’t know…I was doing something on my iPad.

Mr. D. suddenly said, “You have to read this article!” and sent me “Pan Am Games: Link to Our Website without Permission and We’ll Sue.”

And so I read the article…and jotted down the highlights for you:

  • The organizers of the Pan American Games in Toronto require people seek formal permission to link to its website.
  • The games have trademarked the term “TO2015.”
  • They are forcing people to put tape over their own computers if a computer company is a sponsor.
  • They are stopping people from drinking anything that isn’t a sponsor drink.
  • They are trying to prevent the Internet from entering the hallowed sponsor world.
  • Anyone who links to the website or anyone who uses the hashtag #TO2015 is violating its terms, and could be sued (well, crap…I linked to it up there!).
  • The website has yet to add a robots.txt file or other technical method to stop search engines from indexing and linking to the site, so they are effectively forcing Google et al to unwittingly and automatically break its own rules.

Even better, the author of said article emailed to get permission to link to the website and got this response:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently: [email protected]. Technical details of permanent failure…

To be fair, after this article ran on Sunday, the Pan Am Games website changed its terms so now all you need is permission to embed content from their site…not to link to it (thank heaven…I didn’t want to be sued).

You Can’t Control the Interwebz

It’s a rather humorous look at how organizations try to control messaging and customers and employees and conversations in today’s digital world.

But the scary thing is, this is not a one-off situation.

I run into executives several times a week who are afraid to participate in social media because they can’t control the message. Executives who won’t work with bloggers because they’re afraid of not being able to control the agenda. Executives who won’t let their employees use the Internet (not even The Google!) during work hours.

Of course, I always counsel that employees are using social media and Google at work…from their phones.

There are sites such as Glassdoor and Yelp and Indeed where people can leave reviews about you, your company, or your employees without repercussion.

There are people on the Internets who will use your hashtags and link to your site and make fun of you and even criticize you.

And there is nothing you can do about it.

Pan Am Games Should Encourage Participation

When I began my speaking career in 2009, this kind of stuff was expected.

We went from “this is just a fad” and “it won’t hit my business until after I retire” to “holy crap! We need to figure this out, pronto!”

And yet there are still lots of organizations—like the Pan Am Games—that exist.

What makes me sad is I don’t know why anyone would not want people linking to their website or using their hashtag.

If you create an opportunity for people to do both, you:

  • Build awareness of your brand or, in this case, get people around the blog excited about your events.
  • Increase your website’s domain authority and credibility, in the eyes of The Google.
  • Build thought leadership and expertise.
  • Increase your search engine optimization and even rule the entire first page of Google results.
  • Generate qualified leads—really qualified—for your sales team to convert.
  • Create community and build brand loyalists who want to tell your story for you.
  • Motivate people to buy…or to attend the games in person!

In the case of the Pan Am Games, this is a huge opportunity to show the globe why this can be a nice “in between the Olympics” substitute to our sports needs and to show off the impressiveness of its athletes.

You can’t control what people share. You can’t control where they link. You can’t control what they say.

So why not jump in with both feet and encourage it?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich