Special Olympics ups outreach

WASHINGTON: The Special Olympics PR team hopes to leverage activities during its 2009 Winter Games this February in Idaho to attract more constituents to its year-round programs.

WASHINGTON: The Special Olympics PR team hopes to leverage activities during its 2009 Winter Games this February in Idaho to attract more constituents to its year-round programs.

“Our [goal] is to promote [the program] so all people realize they can be a part of the movement,” said Kirsten Suto Seckler, global brand marketing and awareness director.

The February 7 opening ceremony will bring together about 2,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from nearly 100 countries.* It will try to draw buzz via celebrity supporters, such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to Seckler. Celebrities will also be involved in the Global Youth Rally on February 9, a two-hour interactive show that will stream to classrooms worldwide via the organization's newly revamped Web site. That event will serve as a call to action for youth to become “changing agents for acceptance,” she added.

PR began early last year with the nonprofit's first global effort, “Be a Fan,” which promotes the organization's recently installed platform to focus on core values, like determination and dignity.

“We realized we needed to... help people connect [via] our brand values,” Seckler said.

Other aspects include outreach from global ambassadors, general media outreach, and training sessions for participating countries, Seckler said.

It relies on several firms for pro-bono support, including Ogilvy.

*CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, PRWeek previously reported that nearly 200 countries were slated to participate in the Idaho event. That is incorrect. Nearly 100 countries are involved. We regret the error.

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