Imagethief has often talked about BOCOG's PR issues, to me, one of the biggest is their refusal to see the light and shed the traditional Communist Party stances of denying all bad news and only reporting the good. With that in mind, a recent story in the Times (UK) about deaths at the Bird's Nest, the new National Stadium, brought this point home.
The Times article offers an "estimate" of at least 10 deaths, putting together confidential conversations they had with workers who worked on the stadium at different times over the past few years. Whether the number is more or less than 10 is really irrelevant, the article admits that deaths on large scale projects like this aren't rare (around 5 died building the Athens venue in 2004 and 1 in Atlanta in '96). The article also states the complexity of the architectural design of this project may be one of the causes behind the deaths.
With that in mind, what would be so bad, in the spirit of openness and winning points with the media, admitting that there has been some deaths, even if its just 1 or 2? Okay, granted, if they admit anything less than the actual number, the media will ravenously search for other stories and find a way to make the government look bad anyways. Yet, from my limited knowledge of PR, mostly gleaned in politics, the key is controlling (or at least trying to) the story and the public perception of what happened. When you admit there are deaths, you can defend yourself and you turn a lead story into something that will get buried in a blurb inside the paper. When you try to cover it up, that becomes the story more than the deaths, and of course, everything will eventually come to light and make you look that much worse.
Then again, perhaps BOCOG is paranoid with fear over unfair media coverage.