THE BIG PITCH

The USOC is preparing a major ad campaign for the first time. Is it

enough?



PETER LAND



GM, Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Edelman Worldwide



Frankly, the USOC's image is not nearly as critical as the image of

athletics in general and of the athletes who compete. The USOC should,

therefore, promote the truly inspirational athletes who strive daily to

reach their goal of competing in the Olympics. There also are thousands

of people and businesses behind the scenes - coaches, parents, corporate

sponsors like Home Depot, which has employed hundreds of Olympic

hopefuls - who sacrifice immeasurably for the athletes, are truly heroic

and should be promoted as such. To drill even deeper, one thing the USOC

should consider is a targeted campaign directed toward the media that

focuses on the US ethnic markets - specifically the Hispanic and

African-American communities. The census data is quite clear about the

expanding power of these groups and the media outlets that are most

trusted in these communities, sadly, are often overlooked.



SCARLETT FOSTER-MOSS



Account Supervisor, APCO Worldwide



The USOC is viewed by the public as an amorphous, scandal-tainted

organization that just might have something to do with the Olympic

Games. The USOC's lack of message and image penetration can be traced

back for decades, when the fusion of activities and hype surrounding the

actual Olympic Games began to overshadow the USOC's identity and

mission. An image-changing USOC ad campaign is meaningless unless they

also project their new image into every communications theater of the

organization - externally and internally. A tactically broad-based PR

campaign would reinforce the new identity while repositioning the USOC

in the hearts of its athletes, sponsors and public. The ideal USOC PR

campaign would identify current cultural and internal perceptions about

the USOC; define and communicate the USOC's new image, and reaffirm the

USOC's bond with the American public through increased visibility and

third-party advocacy. The USOC's most compelling PR asset is its stable

of current and former athletes who are living, breathing testaments to

the USOC's work. Emphasizing the USOC's mission of supporting US

Olympians is the best organic PR of its work. Rediscovering its mission

and delineating the USOC image from the myriad of corporate logos,

negotiations over broadcast rights and variety of scandals, necessitates

a well-rounded PR strategy to accompany its ad campaign.



TOM GABLE



Chairman and CEO, The Gable Group



If the USOC wants to change perceptions, it has to do much more than

place paid ads. Advertising drives awareness. PR can build relationships

among important constituencies (government, amateur athletics, the

media, sponsors, etc.). PR is two-way and built on trust. The USOC needs

to start with its core values. What does it stand for? Can it be viewed

as having integrity, character? Who is the USOC trying to impress and

why? The answers will determine the strategies to build the desired

image, change perceptions and drive behavior. Agree on position, then go

public with media and community relations to expand coverage and

generate feedback. The tactical array can be immense. Provide media

briefings long before you have news. Make the Web site a resource with

daily updates, releases, audio, video, free registration for e-mail

newsletters or updates, bulletin boards to discuss the issues, and an

'Ask the USOC' form to encourage questions. Good PR, like athletic

training, requires dedication, hard work, positive attitudes and

feedback. Success is based on fact, not hype or spin. Fact-based PR,

more than advertising, will help the USOC reclaim the gold.



CHERYL COSTANZO



Account Executive, The MWW Group



There has always been an aura of secrecy about the USOC that must

dissolve. To win back credibility, the USOC must be open and responsive.

That means taking an honest, direct approach in addressing past

indiscretions and refocusing its commitment to uphold Olympic ideals.

Important steps include rebuilding the organization by selecting new

committee members to deliver key messages to the media. Background

information on the members should be provided with major accomplishments

- business and personal - anything to give them much needed credibility.

Members should talk openly about rules and regulations that govern the

committee and its activities as a reminder that this is a regulated

body. A pledge to build trust and operate in the best interests of the

Games should be created and signed by every committee member and

included in all outreach activities. Meetings should be open to the

media and public, and detailed financial records should be made

available. This may be difficult but in a real sense the USOC's

'customer' is the world. In order to win back the world's confidence,

the USOC must become completely transparent in all its dealings.



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