It’s the holiday season, so what better time than now to talk about “giving” as it relates to your company initiatives — giving is better than getting, after all, right? (In case you are shopping, though, I am just fine with “getting” in addition to “giving,” and you can’t go wrong with chocolate).
For many PR practitioners, one of the most fulfilling opportunities is when we have an opportunity to help a client “give back” with community involvement efforts; public relations at its best is about creating connections and building communities. A fantastic way to do this for your team internally and for your community as a whole is to align your company with a cause.
Before I go further, I have to give the caveat in regards to public relations and community: always start from an altruistic place. Do not make the impetus of your involvement, “Perhaps some good PR will come out of this.” Choose a cause that means something to you and your associates. Support it with good intent, and good things will come.
Here are a few things to consider in your community involvement.
1. Generate involvement by establishing buy in.
Let your company’s community efforts be something your internal community — your associates — have a say in. At Two Rivers Marketing, for example, we each have an opportunity to weigh in with causes important to us, and the whole team votes on which causes we will support for the year. This helps ensure team engagement from the start.
2. Develop internal champions.
Making your community involvement effort successful requires an internal champion — or champions — who can stay in close contact with individuals at the group you are supporting. The champion will serve as communicator to your company about different opportunities available for giving and volunteering.
3. Remember that giving looks different to different people.
You can give time, talent and/or resources. Give your team members a few different options regarding how they can support the group throughout the year.
4. Promote your involvement.
As long as the group you’re supporting is okay with it, you are just fine to promote your involvement. It’s easy to feel “iffy” about whether this is good or bad. Remember — it should be more than just patting yourself on the back. The story isn’t your company. The story is that this nonprofit is worthwhile and that your company is excited to help them help others.
5. Share your story.
You can develop an advisory to let media know about the upcoming clean-up day or silent auction if you want them to attend the event. You can also send out a news release and photo after the event highlighting the great turnout or amount of funds donated. If media want to do an interview, suggest an employee who’s close to the cause — not an executive. (Remember, executives aren’t real people.) To include the media, make sure the “giving” is newsworthy. A check-signing ceremony for $100 isn’t worth a news release.
And that’s where you can take advantage of the power of social media. You can share your story on your channels—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the company blog or e-newsletter. Make sure to tag the nonprofit you’re working with (or link to their website) and use appropriate hashtags for optimal reach.
By telling the story of how and why your company partnered with this nonprofit, you get the word out to others and may just inspire them to get in the “giving” spirit, even when the holidays aren’t upon us.