Vancouver, Pyeong Chang turn to PR in bid for Games

VANCOUVER and PYEONG CHANG, SOUTH KOREA: As Vancouver heads into the final round of bidding to host the 2010 Winter Games, the city is working with transatlantic PR firm Brown Lloyd James (BLJ).

VANCOUVER and PYEONG CHANG, SOUTH KOREA: As Vancouver heads into the final round of bidding to host the 2010 Winter Games, the city is working with transatlantic PR firm Brown Lloyd James (BLJ).

Meanwhile, Pyeong Chang, South Korea has enlisted Edelman to help with its own bid.

On July 2, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the Games. The third finalist is Salzburg, Austria.

In its PR efforts, Edelman is pushing the diplomatic angle - that North and South Korea

said they would try to field a unified team if the Games went to those shores.

"The IOC has the opportunity to usher in a period of not only unprecedented cooperation with the unified team, but also to help further the peace process in this area," said Mary Griswold, deputy general manager at Edelman sports.

BLJ's account team is being led by Olympic campaign veterans EVP Mike Holtzman and assistant VP John Gans. When they worked for Weber Shandwick, the pair steered the successful campaign that helped Beijing, China pick up the 2008 Summer Olympics.

While the Beijing campaign had its share of challenges related to the closed nature of Chinese society and the government's spotty human-rights record, Vancouver also has its share of PR challenges.

For starters, in a move that could have been fatal to the city's chances, the city's mayor forced the bid to be subjected to a public referendum just six months before the final vote. An electoral rebuke of the Games' bid would have almost certainly ended the city's chances.

BLJ did its best to galvanize the city's pro-Olympic forces months before the vote and, in the end, the referendum passed by an overwhelming margin.

The vote was followed by a tour across Europe by Vancouver's mayor that highlighted the landslide results of the referendum. The tour was designed to demonstrate that Vancouver had given its citizens a unique opportunity to get behind the city's push for the Games.

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