Comms and the Olympics, outreach to China, more

If my brand is not an official Olympic sponsor, how can we piggyback on the newsworthiness of the upcoming Games?

Olympic opportunities
If my brand is not an official Olympic sponsor, how can we piggyback on the newsworthiness of the upcoming Games?

"There are many ways to have a gold medal PR effort in 2008 without being a McDonald's," said Kimberly Eberl of Chicago's Motion PR.

"In these next few months, many sports will be naming their qualifiers for the Games," she adds. "In fact, Kristin Armstrong recently qualified in cycling and she is a promising candidate to podium, runners are hot off the NYC Marathon, and more. These US Olympians will have new celebrity that is readily available to endorse brands through the PR staples of desk-sides, SMTs, internal communications, PSAs, along with many other options."

In fact, adds Eberl, athletes and their favorite brands often have more longevity in the eye of the consumer than do the official sponsors of the Games. The key is to strike now as the Olympics will draw a buzz early and often next year.

The US Olympics host media days, too. These can help boost brand awareness while identifying key media members. "Thinking back to the 2000 and 2004 Games," she notes, "new athlete-celebrities were [created] that now are the best PR spokespeople."

Outreach to China
How can I effectively incorporate China into my communications strategy?

After the recent slew of major business deals and with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing nearing, the Chinese news media's interest in relevant content is increasing exponentially. There are many ways marketers can leverage this for their brand messages, says Steven Schwartz, COO of The NewsMarket.

"Look beyond Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai, and be creative in choosing your media," he advises. Chinese audiences are using Web 2.0 tools, including video, more than Americans, "so use that to your advantage."

Of course, language remains a huge barrier, which is why it's highly recommended for marketers to use a Chinese-language service, Schwartz suggests. Many companies implement a Chinese-language translation, which allows organizations to reach thousands of Chinese journalists in their language and with content that is relevant to the market.

How can I successfully pitch a PSA?
When developing a PSA that will resonate with radio-station listeners, there are several key factors that should be weighed - as well as nuanced considerations frequently overlooked.

"The first question to ask is whether the actual message is worthy of a PSA," advises Richard Strauss of Strauss Radio Strategies. The most effective PSAs typically revolve around public health and safety, and too often commercial ventures attempt the PSA route with a message that doesn't elevate to the level of a public service issue.

"When it comes to creating a PSA, understand the audience you are trying to reach," he continues. If focusing on markets with high concentrations of Hispanic listeners, utilizing Spanish-language voice talent will create a stronger connection with the audience. In addition, tapping professional voice talent and selecting appropriate background music will further augment the PSA's credibility.

"When pitching and packaging the PSA, don't rely solely on mass CD mailings," says Strauss. "Proactively pitch the public service director at radio stations." Then, before sending, find out the length of PSA the station accepts (15, 30, 60 seconds) and how they want it delivered (CD or MP3).

Send your questions to: Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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