Sponsors a can be the lifeblood of a business. Not all businesses have sponsors, but if your business does there are significant advantages to having a sponsor. When I worked at the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002, corporate sponsors were critical to our success. Without them the Games may not have happened. One of the first things I learned while working with the Olympics was the importance of caring for sponsors. They pay a lot of money to sponsor the Games and are promised, and expect, certain things in return for their sponsorship and financial support. Since the Games ended more than 10 years ago I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to work directly with sponsors like I did then. However, I am associated with other organizations that do work with sponsors and have even had the opportunity to sponsor local golf tournaments through Snapp Conner PR. In a previous blog entry, I wrote about the importance of remembering and getting a person’s name right. With sponsors it’s no different, especially from a pubic relations (PR) perspective. This rule applies as much to an individual as it does a sponsor. Recently as I was talking to a group from an organization I work with, one of the directors at this organization referred to one of its major sponsors and called them by the wrong name. Granted the name is unusual, but I know this sponsor and was surprised that he didn’t even know how to say the sponsors name correctly. I thought it was laziness on the part of this director. Leading up to the Olympics, we announced that Bombardier was becoming a sponsor. Their winter recreational, snow removal and management equipment company was going to play a critical role in clearing walkways for the outdoor venues as well as grooming the mountainside for a number of Olympic competitions. I remember very clearly seeing the name for the first time and wondering how to say the name properly. It didn’t take long to realize most of the people on our PR staff were wondering the same thing. We asked the person overseeing the sponsorships how to say the name correctly. We wanted to make sure we were saying it the right way as we were going to be communicating to the media and wanted to be sure we didn’t embarrass this valuable sponsor and get off on the wrong foot. The one person who knew exactly how to pronounce the name properly was Mitt Romney. He was the face of the Olympic Committee and he never mispronounced the name. In fact, he knew the company’s background, history, it’s complete product line, how their products would benefit the Games and anything else he thought might be asked by the media upon announcing their sponsorship. Mitt took the time to learn about the company and to ensure that he knew how to pronounce the company name. He understood the important role sponsors played for the Games and wasn’t about to start the relationship off on the wrong foot because he was too lazy to know how to pronounce their name. The media also struggled with it. It was our job to ensure that they also knew the proper name so they would communicate it to their viewers and readership the right way. In another example where Snapp Conner PR sponsored a golf event, the host company got up at the end to thank the sponsors. As he got to our name, he called us by a competitor’s name. Not exactly the way we wanted or expected to be recognized for our contribution and support of the golf tournament. It doesn’t take that much effort to learn how to pronounce or say a company’s name the right way. If you misspeak it can cause significant embarrassment and may cost you future or long-term sponsorship dollars. Don’t be lazy and cost yourself valuable support from sponsors. Take the time to learn what you need to get your sponsorship relationship off on the right foot and, for heaven’s sake, get the sponsors name right.