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Creating PR Opportunities With Charity

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July 23,2013


 By Christina Zila, Textbroker
Large businesses easily create a splash with a big check to a worthy charity. Small businesses can use their charitable works to gain the same attention if not more. Many charities even offer services that can help a business reduce costs, creating a win-win situation and a deeper connection.
This article will give you tips on finding the right charity, non-monetary support for a charity, and how to present your cooperation to the press.
Finding The Right Charity
Start by talking to your local government or Chamber of Commerce. These civic institutions may know of smaller, local charities as well as the local offices of national organizations. Consider charities that relate to your product or service, your employees, your community or your customers.
Product Fit
A local restaurant, for example, can partner with a food bank or homeless shelter and either donate unused food or prepare a meal for the disadvantaged outside of regular business hours. In Las Vegas, Three Square works with the major casinos and other restaurants to reduce food waste and reduce hunger in the community.
Beauty salons, barber shops, spas and beauty and fashion-focused businesses can support Locks of Love or St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which both dramatically change donor hairstyles. These types of partnerships can be very fruitful because of the natural alignment between the company and the charity.
Employee Fit
Each employee at your company has their own passions. You can support your employees by contributing to their chosen causes. In this situation, you increase employee morale by listening to your employees and participating in their passion.
One of your employees may volunteer at an animal shelter. Your accounting business may have nothing to do with puppies, but your partnership shows that your company cares about more than numbers.
Community Fit
Community support is especially important for local businesses, but even large online businesses can connect with the community through charitable acts.
Recently, a wildfire on Mt. Charleston, near Las Vegas, caused damage to homes and buildings. Zappos delivered 400 cases of water to Red Rock Search and Rescue to deliver to the firefighters. Donating water to firefighters has nothing to do with selling shoes or clothing online, but it has everything to do with building and maintaining a positive presence in the community.
Customer Fit
Finally, you may want to participate in charities that speak to your customers. General Mill’s Box Tops for Education program targets parents and their children through helping in the classroom. This tactic is especially good for products that may not lend themselves well to a traditional charity or where a direct tie-in may come off as disingenuous.
Before finalizing your charity selection, research the organization to ensure that your efforts are being put to good use. There are a number of charity lists and checkers, like, to see that your organization is managed efficiently.
Supporting Your Charity
Non-profit organizations don’t just need money. They also need volunteers, materials and services. Marketing, financial and organizational needs can be met with a few hours of participation. Instead of a cash donation, professionals can donate time and talent to truly aid the organization.
Many non-profits have specific outreach programs that help generate funds. Textbroker, a content writing service, depends on thousands of freelance writers to complete work on time and correctly. We have a number of blind and visually-impaired authors who appreciate the accessibility of our platform.
To honor this portion of our author population, we have partnered with the Blind Center of Nevada to donate our used electronics, including old computers and peripherals. We get a tax write-off for the donation, avoid contributing to landfills, and securely recycle our hard drives. The Blind Center wipes, fixes and resells the electronics to generate revenue.
Other non-profits, like Goodwill and Dress for Success, offer job training and preparation. Working with organizations like this can not only improve your image but fill needed positions within your company with motivated workers. These types of “donations” are a triple win: the non-profit fulfills its mission, the person finds employment, and you get a motivated employee without the expensive, time-consuming search.
Promoting Your Charity Support
Once you’ve started working with a charity, how do you get the word out? Here’s where to keep multimedia press release tips in mind. Start with an event, even a simple one with a handshake and a piece of paper formalizing your partnership, early in the week. Holding the event early in the week allows the coverage to spread, whereas holding an event on Friday will get swept away by news from the weekend.
Invite the press with a press release or a press conference announcement. Include links to both your business’s website and the non-profit’s as well as photos of the non-profit in action. In general, the charity aspect is more attractive to the press than the business angle, so keep the focus on the charity and the good work that they do. The headline should be “Dress For Success Receives 25 New Suits From Local Retailer,” not “Retailer Donates 25 New Suits.” The rest of the release should include the event date, time and location as well as activities or photo opportunities. If you’re handing over a big check, including games, or presenting as part of a dinner or other event, include that information for the press. This way, they can accurately plan to send a reporter, a photographer or both.
At the event, make a point to greet the press and give them a good seat to observe or photograph the festivities. Press photographers are usually very discreet and will not interrupt your presentation. Make yourself and the non-profit representative available to reporters either before or after the presentation. Ensure that your staff or the non-profit staff also gets photos to send out with a follow-up release to reporters who didn’t attend. This way, you can give the right information for later coverage. Thank those who attended and promote their work in your communications and social media. Keep in touch to show the results of the donation as well to build a relationship with your new contacts.
Christina Zila is the Director of Communications for Textbroker, which writes press releases for small and medium-sized businesses.
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