2014 PR News Agency Elite Awards: Community Relations

Winner: Marina Maher Communications

Marina Maher Communications celebrated the agency’s 30th anniversary in 2013, and wanted to celebrate in a big way. As MMC was founded by a woman, has a specialty in marketing to women, and employs a 90% female staff, they wanted to make it their goal in 2013 to help more young women. The staff decided to develop an initiative to fund the education of 30 girls in Uganda through the organization She’s the First, which seeks to provide education for girls in developing countries and help them be the first in their families to finish secondary school. Although a simple concept, the idea hit home to the staff at Marina Maher because it aligned with their own passion: empowering women.

Even as it served to change the lives of girls, the program turned out to affect the agency in a profound way. The MMC staff came together as a community to donate, organize and mentor. As the program unfolded, staff members who previously had little to no experience in fundraising uncovered skills they never knew they had. As one participant aptly noted, one thing PR professionals do know is the art of persuasion. Staffers used their special events experience to organize fundraising events such as after-work soirees, parties and auctions.

The best practices that arose from Marina Maher’s She’s the First Initiative are grounded in research about how to motivate millennials. For one: tap into their passion. MMC’s Millennials were empowered to select the cause, structure the program and present it to senior management, tapping into the generation’s entrepreneurial spirit and ambition to help others in need. The fundraising prize, a two-week trip to Uganda to teach, mentor and learn from the young girls that MMC supported was geared to tap into millennials’ desire for experiences over “things.”

Altogether, MMC’s She’s the First initiative raised $25,000—which funded 43 educations, and exceeded their fundraising goal by about 30%.

Honorable Mentions:

  • MassMedia Corporate Communications – Healthcare Partners