Case study dissects Louisville's hits, misses from Ali funeral week

Case study dissects Louisville's hits, misses from Ali funeral week
The public created a huge makeshift memorial to Ali outside the Muhammad Ali Center. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The public created a huge makeshift memorial to Ali outside the Muhammad Ali Center. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro released a communications case study Tuesday that outlines the city's preparation for and execution of events surrounding the death of boxing legend and Louisville native Muhammad Ali.

Ali's death in June propelled Louisville into the international spotlight for more than a week as the world mourned the passing of the legendary athlete and humanitarian.

"From an initial call in the afternoon of June 3 from the Ali family, alerting Mayor Greg Fischer's Office that Ali was gravely ill and could die within hours, to his burial one week later, the mayor's communications team was involved in nearly every aspect of the celebration of Ali's life and burial," a news release from Fischer's office said.

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The case study, prepared by the mayor's communications team, details how the week unfolded from the city's perspective and includes what went right and what could have been done better. The goal of the study is to enhance Louisville Metro's planning for future large events and to share lessons with other communicators in advance of global events focused on their city.

In cooperation with the Ali family and Boxcar PR, which represented the family, city leaders had prepared over the course of a decade for Ali's death, funeral procession and associated events from the aspects of public safety and dignitary security in a secret plan called "The Book."

During the week between Ali's death and funeral, the city collaborated with Boxcar PR, the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau on logistics, including a nearly 20-mile funeral procession and ceremony that drew hundreds of dignitaries and celebrities from around the world.

The case study found that the city was organized and responsive, and did not shrink from the tasks at hand. From a more critical standpoint, the study determined that the city knew the Ali plan and its role in it, "But we failed to understand that we would need our own plan - a plan for the city, not the celebrity. We should have prepared that years ago."

The city also determined that it doesn't have "as robust a record as we'd like" of the mayor's schedule from that week.

Click here to read the communications case study in its entirety.

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