You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates ripples of change. -Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Community Relations and Philanthropy are fancy sounding terms that many associates with huge corporations giving away large sums of money, or with big companies doing fund-raising drives for causes such as finding cures for medical issues or disaster relief. Smaller companies and start-ups sometimes believe that these activities aren’t relevant to them.
Yes, giving away vast sums of money and celebrity-studded charity concerts do fall within the realms of Community Relations and Philanthropy. However, there is a lot more to these types of Public Relations programs, that are relevant to smaller companies and start-ups – not to mention very helpful to local communities. Most small companies and those just starting up simply don’t know where to start in this area, or feel they don’t have the resources to get involved — or, sadly, they don’t see the point.
We’re going to discuss the business and public relations value of establishing a Community Relations program, but let’s acknowledge right up front that the real winner here is your local community or a deserving group of people who need help. Many big companies do these sorts of programs, but it is on the micro-level where the need and expertise really lies.
What’s the business rationale? News outlets aren’t going to broadcast your press releases because you think they should. News outlets publish news. Your latest product release or the mere fact that your company exists might be exciting to you but, let’s face it, it’s not exactly earth-shattering compared to everything else going on in the world.
Turn on the TV or open up the newspaper. What kind of stories are in there? Local news. Feel-good stories. A company helping a non-profit organization provides a news outlet a reason to report on your company, and a reason to get to know more about you. For a new company just getting started, media clippings are important – even local media clippings. In addition, having a community alliance with a local non-profit not only shows that you are forward-thinking, it shows that your company has a sophisticated marketing program, and implies a certain level of success.
What does a Community Relations program look like? First of all, it doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t need to cost anything at all. It could simply involve having your employees, or just a few of your employees, volunteer a few days (or even one Saturday) per month at a designated organization. And you want the organization to be relevant to the type of business that you’re in. If you can, find a non-profit that itself has a sophisticated public relations program with a lot of media contacts — then you’re even further ahead of the game.
The above is just one very simple example. There are literally dozens of Community Relations programs that we can help develop for you. Working with an agency, like Invested Media, that has significant experience in developing and establishing these types of programs will enable you to quickly and efficiently hit the ground running. Your larger Public Relations program will be that much easier to get going, your company will gain credibility more quickly, you’ll be able to recruit and keep quality employees more easily, and potential investors will look more favorably upon you – essentially, it will enhance everything you do. However, working with a non-profit isn’t something you want to get wrong.
Contact us to see how we can help. And, by all means, get involved. Your community needs you.
Head of Product, Invested Media
Erin is a partner at Invested Media, and manages product on the client-side. She wears many hats on the development, content, and marketing end, and leads teams through tactical plan implementation. A handful of the biggest companies in Fintech use her work.