H&K helps Chicago make last round for 2016 Games

CHICAGO: Hill & Knowlton credited Chicago 2016's selection as the US applicant to host the 2016 Olympics to exceptional media coverage and city spirit.

CHICAGO: Hill & Knowlton credited Chicago 2016's selection as the US applicant to host the 2016 Olympics to exceptional media coverage and city spirit.

Chicago bested LA's bid last week. The International Olympic Committee is slated to announce an official host in October 2009.

Though the city's efforts to gain the attention of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) included a short film; the Chicago 2016 Shop at Macy's; Olympic displays at O'Hare International Airport; and numerous fundraising events, most crucial to the USOC's decision was "just how interested and thorough the media coverage became on this," said Patrick Sandusky, VP of sports communications at H&K. "We were really able to get media on all levels very excited, and, therefore, the general public."

Interaction with local press, he added, relied upon "open and constant updates" on all details of the bid, from venue and financing plans to fundraising numbers.

"This transparency and continual access made this a big story for people," noted Sandusky.

"You could actually feel the buzz around Chicago," agreed Michael Kontos, SVP in H&K's corporate group. "The city kind of dressed itself up" with Chicago 2016 logos and lights.

When the announcement came on April 14 that Chicago had won the initial bidding process, "probably 25 or 30 representatives from Chicago media were in DC in attendance," he noted.

When the USOC did polling in Chicago, Douglas Smith, senior advisor to the chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, said results showed 92% awareness and 72% approval ratings for the Olympics to be held in the city. Smith credited that to H&K's "unbelievable press operation."

In a "tough-fought campaign," H&K "crushed the ball," he said.

H&K is working with Summer Olympics host cities Beijing (2008) and London (2012).

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