One Big Step Towards Great PR

Relief and Support Services Canada member George Rands visits with Kenyan children during a trip to the impoverished Africa country.

Did you know that Transition Marketing Services supports Relief and Support Services Canada? R.S.S.C is a local Okanagan, not-for-profit agency dedicated to providing necessary change to the country of Kenya.

We are not bragging, although we could.

No, we are not sharing this to pat ourselves on the back, but to illustrate a significant means of generating great PR and Brand awareness.

Public Relations.

Public Relations is all about the influencing the public’s perception of a thing.

Public Relations (noun)

  1. The actions of a corporation, store, government, individual,etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.
  2. The art, technique, or profession of promoting such goodwill.

You see it everywhere. Business publications, celebrity tabloids, political campaigns – everywhere.

Public Relations is literally the public’s perception of a thing (Image source: Pollackblog.com)

Regardless of your business size or style, PR affects you. It controls the way that the public perceives you, your business, your products and your services. Public Relations  is a foundational element to Marketing, Branding, Communications and Advertising. Good PR is a game changer for businesses.

Who you vote for, how you feel about a new production plant being built, whether you take Tom or Katie’s side on the divorce… it is all highly dependent on the PR.  There are many good PR agents out there, communications experts that can turn the most unfortunate of events around on a dime. PR has many sides and can both win consumers and disenchant them – that is where you have to be careful.

PR has changed drastically over the last 50 years. It was once enough to have an articulate, poignant press release explaining the who, what, when, where and why… however, decades of PR abuse has lead to a  jaded and un-trusting public.

Words are no longer enough to garner PR buy-in and it has become about more than just talking, it has become about doing. Brands need to demonstrate that, and they need to back their words with actions.

The fact of the matter is that  “if you want good, lasting PR, focus on action not words” – Miles Gunnar

Good Actions = Good PR.

Good Actions? What type of good actions?

How about backing a charitable organization?

Backing not-for-profits generates positive associations. We have briefly discussed this concept in prior posts and we felt it deserved its own mention. Getting on board with a local charity is one of the single best ways to market your brand and generate good publicity, while improving life around you.

By getting on board with a local goodwill organization, you are DEMONSTRATING brand-care and concern for matters outside company profits. You are showcasing a brand that is concerned about the world and the people in it. In doing so you are effectively humanizing your brand.

Glorious “Humanizing”. The Holy Grail of branding.

Hu·man·ize (verb)

  1. To portray or endow with human characteristics or attributes; make human: humanized the puppets with great skill.
  2. To imbue with humaneness or human kindness; civilize: acts of courtesy that humanize life in a big city.

This builds trust.

It gives you something positive to talk about as a brand and a means to indirectly broadcast your brand through direct engagement on behalf of the charity.

Example: We support RSSC. As such we will commonly communicate and advertise their efforts and mission statement. Already, simply by being the vehicle for these messages, we have attached our name to the efforts of this charitable organization. We are not leeching off of them, nor are we gaudily stating “this message brought to you by” – rather we are simply acting as an agent of goodwill, and consumers perceive this as such.

Avoid Public Relation faux pas’s. It takes one word to destroy years of hard work. (Image source repmanblog.com)

Avoid PR Faux Pas’s.

1. Choose an Organization Wisely.

When choosing a not-for-profit to sponsor, consider what they do and who they are doing it for.

  1. It should be a cause close to your heart, and also to your employees. Personal buy-in means meaningful, genuine communications.
  2. It is helpful if it fits somehow with your industry.
  3. If possible it should be a cause that matters to your target market

Keep in mind that you need to take care when choosing a not-for-profit to sponsor. Choosing the wrong organization can cause bad PR with specific customer groups. You can choose an organization based on the market you are targeting, however care should be taken not to alienate other demographics.

2. Consider Smaller Groups vs “Corporate Charities”.

Not long ago a member of our team was hired on to handle photography for an annual event, which plays host to 100,000+ people each year. The event is a big deal and every year it supports a different charity. On this particular year they supported breast cancer (the event coordinators even went so far as to paint a bull pink for the the national rodeo finals which they were hosting). They raised a large sum of money and contacted the Breast Cancer Society to put together a photo op and to hand over the giant check.

The were quickly deflated when the Breast Cancer people replied, “no we don’t have time, just mail it to us”.

  1. Bigger not-for-profit organizations need less help and are often less grateful. They have so many groups already vying for sponsorship recognition, that they tend to take it for granted. Your efforts will be no more than a drop in the bucket as other, larger brands, clamor for recognition.
  2. By choosing smaller, grass roots organizations you are getting in on the ground level and supporting them “before it was cool”. You will be the first in, spreading NEW news. You won’t be just another “pink ribbon tag-along”.
  3. Smaller organizations are far more appreciative of assistance and sponsorship than their larger cohorts and will react and communicate as such. They are happy to have your help, and they make it known.
  4. There is less restriction on what communications can be issued, and they are far more willing to work with you on promotions and partnerships.

The Type Of Not-For-Profit To Look For:

A fine example of this small grass roots type of organization is the Children at Risk / Recycle For Life effort going on in Salmon Arm, BC. The entire operation is being run by young people (with a little support from their elders).

Children at Risk / Recycle for Life. They support food and education for third world orphans. This is done primarily through a steady and sustainable effort on their part, to collect donations of recyclable cans and bottles. This is another not-for-profit that TMS backs. More on them here or visit their Facebook page here

3. Consider Local VS Global.

There are a multitude of upstanding not-for-profits that you can support, both next door and across the ocean. Their are pro’s and con’s to sponsorship of either, but at the end of the day the choice should be based on what matters to you, your employees and your market.

Besides, no one said you could only support one. Double up and choose a global initiative and a local one.

More Than A Business Decision.

Yes this type of action can generate great PR and yes it is a wise marketing decision for any brand. However we at TMS don’t believe that sponsorship is based solely on what you can get out of it. We back not-for-profits not because of what we can gain, but what we can give. The world is about more than profits and we all would do well to make use of what opportunities are afforded us, to make things better.

Get on board and sponsor a charitable organization. Do it for brand recognition, do it for public relations, but most importantly do it because it is the right thing to do!

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

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