Canadian Olympic Committee ramped up efforts this year to corner media coverage

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      After watching how the Canadian Olympic Committee operates, I have greater insights into why Stephen Harper is prime minister.

      That's because the COC's executive director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, is Harper's former communications chief.

      Soudas left the Prime Minister's Office after the 2011 election, freeing him up to drive media coverage of Canada's Olympic efforts.

      Since late July, Canadian media outlets have been bombarded with a barrage of high-quality photographs and pithy quotes from elite athletes.

      The relentless stream of messages has kept the Olympics on the front pages of newspapers and on media websites across the country, right up until the athletes arrive home today from London.

      The COC's round-the-clock communications onslaught vastly exceeded what we saw during the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

      Many of the pictures were taken by the prime minister's official photographer, Jason Ransom.

      The COC's efforts have helped boost the profile of Canadian medallists like Christine Sinclair, Ryan Cochrane, and Derek Drouin, which they may be able to parlay into lucrative endorsements.

      Soudas developed some of the same techniques when he worked for Harper. The Prime Minister's Office distributes photos and canned quotes on a daily basis, keeping Harper in the news with a minimum of missteps.

      The links between the COC's media strategy and that of the PMO might one day be worthy of a student's master's thesis in communications, especially if it's ever revealed that Harper was directing the Olympic messaging.

      For the rest of us, Soudas's methods probably come across as far less objectionable when they're performed on behalf of Canadian athletes as opposed to when they're in the service of a partisan, bare-knuckles politician like Harper.

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