2013 PR Agency Elite Awards: Community Relations


Edelman was an invaluable partner in developing Darden’s inaugural Restaurants Community Grants.

Winner: Edelman

“Being of Service” translates into the core values of Darden Restaurants, which is compromised of eight brands, 2,000 restaurants and 185,000 employees. The Darden Foundation deploys those values by having Darden employees give their time to nonprofit organizations focusing on post-secondary education, preservation of natural and resources and “good neighbor” works. But employees were looking to do more.

Edelman was retained to develop a signature program that would leverage Darden’s assets to bridge the gaps in community giving and better engage employees. The result: Darden Foundation’s Restaurants Community Grants Program, which enables every restaurant in the Darden portfolio to help award a $1,000 grant to an exceptional nonprofit in its local community.

More than 90% of Darden restaurants took part in the program, while many of the businesses partnered and combined their grant dollars to make a deeper impact for local communities. Edelman provided Darden with talking points to reach out to local nonprofits and developed messaging to target regional and local media outlets.

The effort culminated in more than $1.7 million being handed out to nearly 900 nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and Canada. It also garnered more than 63 million media impressions across print, online and broadcast outlets and 150 pieces of organic coverage.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Direct Impact
  • Frause
  • Hill+Knowlton Strategies
  • Stratacomm

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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