NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick Worldwide SVP of public affairs Mike
Holtzman heads off to Beijing later this week to finalize the details of
a contract renewal to support the Chinese Olympic Organizing Committee
after helping it to secure the 2008 Games for Beijing.
As PR counsel to the winning bid committee, Holtzman and his team were
guests at the party thrown by the Chinese government in its Moscow
embassy on the night the IOC awarded Beijing the Games.
A team of three - Holtzman, deputy John Gans, and WSW Singapore staffer
Sharon Ho (who had been based in the Beijing bid committee's office for
the six-month campaign) - had set up a "war room" in the Moscow
Radisson, which also housed the international media.
They worked 21-hour days in the final week, coaching their Chinese
clients on their final presentation, arranging translations, and lining
up last-minute interviews with key international media.
Beijing's final presentation to the IOC was made by China's vice premier
Li Lan, Beijing mayor Liu Qi, and the Bid Committee secretary general
Wang Wei. The job of coaching this senior trio was a sensitive one, said
Holtzman. "I couldn't tell them what to do - I just helped magnify their
The team organized two massive pre-vote press conferences, both of which
attracted 300 broadcast journalists. The final conference, on vote day,
saw 1,400 registered media.
Journalists were chosen carefully for interviews in the last few
"There was a risk that we would get hit with negative questions, so we
kept a fairly low profile," explained Holtzman.
Toronto's pitch, supported by GCI's office in that city for the past 15
months, was that its bid was "all about the athletes." Paris chose to
emphasize its central location in an effort to please international
broadcasters conscious of time differences, as well as the ease of
access it afforded.
Osaka's message centered around its image of hospitality. It also made
play of the fact that it respects human rights.
Istanbul tried to leverage the fact that it has Europe's youngest
population, which could benefit from the Olympics.
But in the end, the IOC was seduced by Beijing's argument that the Games
could act as a catalyst for social change in China. This was always the
clear message of WSW's campaign, reflected in almost all the coverage of
Beijing's bid in the week before and days after the vote.
- See Editorial, p. 8.