London 2012 hires Zerafa to boost government link

London 2012, the organisation set up to bring the Olympics to the UK, has appointed former Sport England and ITV Digital lobbyist John Zerafa as its first head of communications.

Zerafa is the first senior appointment made by director of communications Mike Lee, who joined earlier this month (PRWeek, 3 October).

Zerafa, who reports to Lee, said he will be promoting the bid to national, regional and local politicians, as well as regional development agencies.

He said: ‘One of the criteria made by the International Olympic Committee is to make sure that government at all levels is behind the bid.’

Zerafa aims to recruit other public affairs staff by the end of the year. One of his first tasks has been to run a series of meetings between the all-party parliamentary sports groups and London 2012 chair Barbara Cassani.

Zerafa joins from Sport England, where he has been head of public affairs since 2001. He previously spent two years as PA manager at the ill-fated ITV Digital. Prior to that, he was an account director at lobbying firm Westminster Strategy, of which Lee is a former deputy managing director. Zerafa also spent two years as a researcher for former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath in the early 1990s.

Lee, who joined from European football governing body UEFA, said he hoped to complete the recruitment of all communications staff by the end of the year.

Other recent appointments include sports journalist Steve Parry as director of media and Keith Mills as chief executive. London 2012 uses Brunswick and Capital PR for media relations. Cohn & Wolfe was taken on in September to promote a logo design competition for the bid (PRWeek, 12 September).

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