AUSTIN, TX: After a competitive pitch by several of the largest PR firms in the country, the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) has hired boutique firm SS&K to develop the organization's brand strategy.Bianca Bellavia, the LAF director of communications and outreach, confirmed that the organization had gone through one round of the RFP before being introduced to SS&K by an LAF board member. "They came after our initial invitation, about a week after we invited the agencies," she said. "SS&K stood out. They have a great, creative team and seem to really have a sense of what we were doing. They captured [Armstrong's] voice really well." Among those who originally pitched for the account were Edelman and Porter Novelli. The LAF was founded by five-time Tour de France champion Armstrong to help those who suffer from and have survived cancer, as Armstrong did. Through community programs and research grants, the LAF promotes the "optimal physical, psychological, social recovery and care of cancer survivors and their loved ones," according to the group's website. Though they have yet to plan a specific initiative, the client and agency began working together earlier this week. "It's more developing the strategy and a very simple and compelling way to tell their story, and really make that emotional connection," said SS&K partner Rob Shepardson. SS&K has worked with a number of other nonprofits, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Fannie Mae Foundation, and the US Fund for Unicef. The LAF account will be handled out of SS&K's New York office. Bellavia said she expects the LAF to spend between $500,000 and $1 million with SS&K this year.