H&K aims to distance Beijing from Darfur...

The PR agency supporting the Beijing 2008 Olympics has argued that campaigners should seek ‘more appropriate political channels' to protest against China's stance on Darfur.

Beijing: target for human rights groups in the run-up to Games
Beijing: target for human rights groups in the run-up to Games

Hill & Knowlton's statement follows intense media scrutiny of China's alleged complicity in the Darfur ­humanitarian crisis, triggered by Steven Spielberg's resignation as Olympics ­artistic adviser.

Beijing-based senior consultant Tzyy Wang, who heads the Olympics account at H&K, said: ‘The Olympic Games represent the two weeks every four years that people lay down their differences and come together to celebrate common values.

‘The fact the games celebrate this communion and not just sporting achievement is what helps elevate them above all other sporting events. There are many more appropriate political channels through which to debate differences.'

Wang's statement came as Yuan Bin, director of the ­Beijing Olympics marketing department, defended China's stance on Darfur and appealed to activists on Wednesday not to pressure sponsors to pull out of the games.

‘China has been doing a lot towards the resolution of the Darfur issue,' she said. ‘As for groups pressuring sponsors about the games, the Olympics should be kept non-political.' Nevertheless, charities are planning high-profile PR stunts to leverage media ­interest.

Amnesty International, currently banned from ­China, plans to arm its activists with campaigning tools and to target members of the public visiting the ­Olympics with a media ­campaign.
The group will hold a ­seminar in May to advise sports journalists how to safely report human rights issues while in China.

Press officer Steve Ballinger said that the event would help Amnesty to ‘get out of the broadsheets and into the tabloids', adding: ‘The link with sports means we can reach new audiences.'

US-based lobby group Dream for Darfur is also planning a PR offensive. UK representative Karly Kupferberg said: ‘A number of projects will target the ­Olympics; it is the best way to get international activities moving.'

... as 2012 games calls in Lord Bell

Senior figures at Bell Pottinger are to provide specialist PR advice to the London 2012 Olympics team, it emerged this week.

Lord Bell, Chime Communications chairman and David Hill, Bell Pottinger ­director and former Downing Street comms director, will support the press and PR teams over the next year.

Lord BellThe two ex-Downing Street heavyweights are not expected to engage in media relations activities themselves, but will advise on both breaking news and long-term PR strategy, including helping with ideas and campaigns.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) will use Bell Pottinger as part of a wider marketing strategy deal for parent company The Chime Group.

Chime was hired following a pitch process and will now handle all marketing communications, including advertising, promotion, public relations and digital communications.

Chime chief executive Chris Satterthwaite said: ‘It was an integrated marketing brief, but PR thinking was very important to our offering. The brief was to devise an integrated strategy that inc-orporates PR at every level.'

LOCOG head of PR and communications Joanna Manning-Cooper said the committee might seek additional agency support with expertise in the arts and culture sector.


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