Every corporate entity (or individually run business) should make it a priority to be socially responsible and give back to the community in which it operates. Besides being the right thing to do, corporate giving enables you to reach your customers and prospects in an entirely different way than traditional marketing.
Who isn't tired of being bombarded by cute, clever and ultimately self-serving advertising messages? These days, we expect more out of those we choose to do business with. Showing that you care about more than the bottom line instills a feeling of good will in those you are trying to reach. But what many companies don't realize is that their good deeds can also generate broad publicity coverage, further enhancing your corporate reputation and brand image.
Before you flinch in horror at the thought of getting media attention for your good deeds, let me tell you that not only is there nothing wrong with this, but you will also be further helping the non-profit. By generating publicity for yourself regarding your charitable work or contributions, you are also obtaining great media coverage for the non-profit, enhancing their credibility and increasing their exposure. Now that's a win/win!
Here are some tips to help you "do good" for a good cause, "feel good" about what you're doing and create "good press" for your company:
Target the right media. Most major local newspapers and some local magazines have special sections devoted to non-profit news. In South Florida where I live, for example, these are referred to as the "Society" sections. These are the sections that you will want to send news to of your good deeds. They are more than happy to run items relating to for-profit companies helping non-profits. And, as I said before, by doing this you are also gaining more exposure for the non-profit, which further helps them out.
Always take photos. Flip through the pages of your local "Society" sections, and you'll see photos galore. Photos are, in fact, the lifeblood of these non-profit sections, and without them your press release will either not get printed or it will be lost in a sea of tuxedoed and bejeweled philanthropists smiling for the camera. When taking photos, make sure that they are well-staged (i.e., nice, tight shots, no distractions in the background, not too large a group in one photo, etc.). Also, be sure to clearly mark and identify every person in the photo, or it will not make it into print.
Don't think you have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Let's face it, none of us, no matter how well we are doing, are going to be able to give away more than the GNP of some nations. But that should not deter you from giving at whatever level you are able to afford. There are many, many wonderful non-profit organizations within every community that are struggling each day just to keep their doors open and continue to provide their much-needed services. These organizations will be more than happy to accept whatever you are able to give.
Likewise, you will still be able to generate great publicity coverage, no matter what the size of your gift. The media sections that cover non-profits are usually more than happy to include all good works, not just the large financial sums.
However, for those that are hesitant to publicize the size of their financial gift, you do have other options. For example, some of my clients prefer to refer to their gift as a percentage of their day's sales or to leave out the amount altogether. Both of these options are fine and should not hinder your ability to generate publicity coverage.
Be creative. There are many different ways to support a good cause, and they will all earn you positive media coverage. Here are some examples:
Write a check. Writing a check and presenting it to the organization is the simplest way to give. When doing this, be sure to have your photo taken "presenting" the check to the head (or a higher up) of the organization. You can then submit this photo, along with a press release detailing your giving, to the media.
Donate your expertise. As a die-hard animal lover, there was never a question for me that I would donate my PR services to an animal organization. Just which organization became apparent when I adopted my dog Chase from our local no-kill animal shelter five years ago. Since that time I have been doing their publicity pro bono. Even though I don't have a million dollars to give them, the exposure my publicity services provides has been invaluable, and is something they never would have been able to afford if they had to pay for it.
Designate a "giving day." Some businesses are by nature more geared toward this than others. I know of hair salons, boutiques, grocery stores and other such businesses that announce that on a specific date they will give away a certain percentage of that day's proceeds to a specific charity. Doing so gives them a reason to market this to their customers via in-store displays, letters, e-mails, etc. in order to pump up the day's sales.
Hold an event. You can also hold an event and donate all or a portion of the proceeds to your charity of choice. Again, this is a great way to get publicity, help a good cause, and also reach out to your customers in a unique way.
Creating a positive brand image by doing good for others is the ultimate win/win situation.
This article was written by Diana Laverdure, vice president of Reeves Laverdure Public Relations and president of the Web-based PR information company PRoActive Publicity. It originally appeared in the All About Public Relations Web site.