Potential 2012 US Olympic hosts begin national push

SALT LAKE CITY: The four US cities left in the race for the 2012

Olympics are quickly shifting from local to national PR campaigns.

New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Houston have one more year

to convince the US Olympic Committee (USOC) that they have the global

clout to win the 2012 Summer Games for the US, though the International

Olympic Committee won't make a final selection until 2005.

Bid campaigns have so far focused on building local support, which the

USOC measured through polls. Moving forward, messaging will address

national and international audiences as the cities tout facilities,

transportation infrastructure, and tourist attractions.

PR will play a key role since the USOC places strict limits on

advertising and bans contact with committee members, said Houston 2012

Foundation president Susan Bandy. Last week, Houston formalized a paid

relationship with Weber Shandwick Worldwide, which represented Beijing

and Sydney in their successful bids.

WSW SVP Mike Holtzman said his agency is working with several foreign

cities on their regional bids as well, but will pare down to one Olympic

client when international cities begin competing against each other.

New York is taking guidance from an unpaid board of PR and sports

marketing gurus. Rubenstein & Associates is on paid retainer.

Some have said that in light of September 11, other cities should bow

out and let New York make the bid. "We appreciate the outpouring of

support, but we're not looking for any sympathy," claimed marketing and

communications director Jon Stern. However, NYC2012's release announcing

it had made the cut stated, "An Olympic Games in New York would act as a

catalyst to, and ultimately as a capstone of New York City's

reconstruction efforts."

San Francisco expects to continue pro-bono work with Ketchum and DDB

Worldwide, and Washington with Burson-Marsteller. The Bay Area plans to

focus on the local community through a speakers bureau and an ad

campaign during the Salt Lake City Games this winter.

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