Ketchum handling comms for Olympic torch relay

NEW YORK: Ketchum and its affiliates are providing more than 125 personnel for PR support for the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay through its 33-city international route.

NEW YORK: Ketchum and its affiliates are providing more than 125 personnel for PR support for the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay through its 33-city international route.

The amount of the account was undisclosed, according to Teresa Henderson, a Ketchum SVP and associate director in its Dallas office.

The relay began at the 2000 Olympics site in Sydney and will end up back in Athens on August 13th. It is the first time that the torch has visited South Africa, India and South America. It is also the first time that the torch will go to every continent during the relay, according to Henderson.

The Athens 2004 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games hired Alem International Management, a Colorado-based event creation and management firm, to conduct the international legs of the relay. Alem, in turn, hired Ketchum to handle PR.

Ketchum previously worked alongside Alem during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. The PR firm was hired by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to handle media relations and issues management then, according to Ketchum's New York-based senior partner Rob Flaherty. Alem handled the event management at the '96 games.

"We were called to do it again based on past successful relationships," Henderson said.

The account was awarded to Ketchum in late 2002. The firm has spent the last seven months coordinating teams of employees culled from sports, special events, or community affairs backgrounds.

The agency's seven-member, US-based team for the campaign is led by global account director Henderson and split between the Dallas, Atlanta and New York offices. Additional help comes from Flaherty, who will serve as senior counsel for the campaign, and VP and director Chris Nelson, who will handle the torch relay's issue counsel.

A specially-equipped 747, called "Zeus," transports the flame. Ketchum has a person on-board at all times, according to Henderson.

A number of Greek media outlets have been traveling with the plane since the flame was lit, Henderson said. In addition, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Eurosport, and China Press have either flown on the plane or will do so along the route.

Ketchum has used the internet and a weekly communiqu? to keep the all offices involved in the process. In addition, Atlanta VP and account supervisor Tamara Jacobs has been made available 24/7 to handle any calls that may come from local offices, and Ketchum has provided staff for Alem's Colorado command center.

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