PR firm goes for gold with Olympics pitch

Proposal: A Baltimore agency will write the high-stakes summary aimed at bringing the Games here.

July 15, 2002|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore public relations firm will write Washington-Baltimore's final sales pitch to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the group that will decide whether to name the region the U.S. candidate for the 2012 Summer Games.

Warschawski Public Relations, a 5-year-old boutique agency with 11 employees, has a few weeks to distill into no more than 100 pages five binders filled with more than 1,000 pages of bid documents.

"This is the final chance for our region to make a winning impression," said David Warschawski, founder and president of the agency. "We're going to do everything to ensure that we'll win."

A second Baltimore agency, Spur Design, will create the graphic design for the document, called an executive summary. Spur officials say they have done work for Time magazine, Nike, Gatorade, Adidas and MTV Networks.

The Washington-Baltimore region is competing with New York - considered by insiders to be the toughest challenger - San Francisco and Houston.

Although the final bid papers are due Oct. 1, the USOC is expected to narrow the competition to two cities in September.

The two remaining finalists will make presentations Nov. 2 and 3, and the USOC will choose one. That city then will compete internationally. The International Olympic Committee is expected to name a host city for the 2012 Games in 2005.

"We're building now on a very successful site visit," Warschawski said. "Many people are now considering us a front-runner for winning the Olympic bid for North America, and that's a very exciting place to be."

Last month's whirlwind tour of the region by the USOC went well by all accounts. USOC officials praised the changes the local group had made at the proposed venues and Olympic Village, saying they raised the bid's score.

"I think we told one heck of a story about why this is the right place to hold the 2012 Games," said Dan Knise, president and chief executive of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the local Olympic organizing group.

Warschawski started working with the local Olympic organizers about two months ago, initially on a brochure that summarized the bid. Quickly, the 31-year-old PR man amended his summer reading list to include Selling the Five Rings, the Olympic text lying on his desk.

These days, five members of his staff spend three-fourths of their time on the Olympic bid, a combination paid and pro-bono project that is part of the bid's $500,000 marketing budget for the year, Knise said.

"This is not about the fees for us," Warschawski said. "This is about winning the Olympics for our region."

This year, Warschawski's firm was voted U.S. Boutique PR Agency of the Year and the Best Boutique PR Agency to Work For by Holmes Report, a daily public relations industry newsletter.

The USOC has said that the executive summary must be presented in a three-ring binder, be no more than 100 pages long and basically consist of black ink on white pages.

Warschawski is tight-lipped about what the executive summary will say.

"We have tremendous competitive advantages," he said. "Our job is to put them in a format that is succinct, poignant and memorable. We have created a unique approach to make sure that happens. What that is and how it will work are highly confidential."

Knise also declined to reveal details but said the document will contain technical information while capturing the region's attributes. He expects to make the summary public once it goes to the USOC.

The key to being chosen is making a compelling case that the region could win at the international level.

"I think Washington and our region is outstandingly positioned to make that case," Warschawski said. "Historically, politically and culturally, Washington is at the epicenter of our nation. I would consider this the true crossroads to our world."

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