Something fascinating happens to people during an Olympic year. As Jimmy Durante used to say, everybody wants to get into the act. The Bernard Hodes Group, a company that specializes exclusively in human resource communications, recognized that communal impulse and has used it to help the U.S. Olympic Committee forge even closer ties to the 67 companies on the USOC corporate sponsor/supplier roster.
"USOC was looking for a partner that had a lot of experience in the human resources and staffing world to work with them to develop a tool that would help their sponsor companies increase the value of their sponsorship by reaching their employees to get them excited about employee pride and about the fact that they were working for a USOC sponsor company," says Bernard Hodes' creative director Paul Rogers, Palo Alto, California. "That's really our specialty. We're well versed in employee recognition and retention initiatives -- anything that affects the career path and longevity of employees."
The result was a Web-based initiative called Think Olympic, a program that offers HR decision-makers and marketing contacts a unique resource that centers on support of the U.S. Olympic Team. The site was designed, Rogers says, to be "easily accessible, updateable, and capable of adding information and programs in real time. And the title of the site, ThinkOlympic.com, implied what we wanted the sponsor companies to do."
It also gave them ample means to do it. In addition to employee training, referral, motivation, and retention programs -- all with an Olympic theme -- the application provides such things as ideas for tailoring company events to reflect Olympic aspirations, and PDF files that can be downloaded as Olympic posters to hang in company common areas.
"We've never developed a Web site like it, and we've been getting some very positive feedback from the companies," says Rogers. "They particularly like the ready-to-go tools that the site provides and that they can access anytime they want. Also, they don't cost them a lot of money. And when they have successes with the site, they'll pass along stories of that success to other sponsor companies."
All 67 of the Olympic sponsor companies have accessed the site, and the frequency of their visits is increasing. "Our goal," Rogers says, "is to keep them coming back, so we've been consistently updating content with things like Olympic stories and athlete biographies. We'll be updating content more frequently as the games approach. We'll be drawing on a set of bios that USOC keeps of athletes who are expected to be standouts."
Bernard Hodes Group's newest initiative in the Think Olympic program will involve "building a relationship between sponsor company CEOs and the actual athletes who are going to the games," says Rogers. "We want to position the games and the athletes in a really positive way with these decision-makers. We believe this and the other programs we're developing with USOC will definitely add value to the companies that sponsor the Olympics and, ultimately, sponsor the athletes themselves."