The old saying says, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It’s not true. Lots of people and companies do good things, and they get the credit they deserve. Are you getting yours?
If you’ve been involved in city clean-ups, sponsoring local teams, or other worth-while projects, you should have been lauded for it. Unfortunately, it’s usually up to you to draw attention to your actions. How do you do that without becoming obnoxious? There are techniques you can use to put your name out in the community in a positive light that almost make it seem like everyone else is singing your praises, not you.
What have you done?
Make a list of the events or initiatives you’ve been involved in. Which ones made you most proud? Which ones do you intend to repeat? Focus on those, since old events are not newsworthy.
Participated in a city-wide clean-up
Sponsored a local sports team
Took part in a community event
Encouraged your employees to volunteer
Helped raise funds for a cause or person in need
Used your access to customers to promote a community effort
Sponsored an employee(s) for a Walk for charity or other event
It is hoped the list goes on. (If you’re not involved in community events or efforts, reconsider your position.)
You would be amazed by the impact your efforts around town can have on potential customers as they choose where to take their garments and household textiles for cleaning. “I know Daisy-chain cleaners is a bit out of my way, but they sponsored my nephew’s Special Olympics team, so I want to say thanks.” One good turn led to another. But that turn won’t generate good will if nobody knows you did it.
Who needs to know?
Once you’ve realized you have potential good news to spread, who are you going to tell? And how?
Make a list of the media outlets in your community. Newspapers (whether in print or online), community newsletters, radio stations, local TV stations, community news bulletin boards, Facebook pages (don’t overlook those!) All of these report news, but they also look for feel-good stories to lighten the load. Watch the local news and see which reporters are routinely sent out to events to cover them. Make note of their names and get their contact information online or by calling the station.
The next time you are planning to invest in a community event or otherwise want to generate good news, plan in advance for the publicity. Don’t wait until it’s over! Live news is so much more attractive to media than yesterday’s events.
Call or contact media in advance with full details, and invite them to send a reporter
Plug it in advance on your website
Post it on your Facebook page
Promote it on any community Facebook pages and in Twitter
Put up banners or signs
Invite customers to participate with hang tags or other notices
The day of the event
If you’ve invited media, be sure to tell them who to contact at the site of the event. If you’ve invited several, have a media table with information for them. Give them coffee, treats, lemonade, whatever is appropriate. Media love freebies. (Speaking from experience here.) They also like things made as easy as possible for them to do their job. If they have to dig for information, they probably won’t.
Put your people in shirts with your logo, or have your logo added to other sponsors on whatever shirts are being issued. This serves two purposes—to identify participants on the day, and also as a reminder for as long as the shirt lasts and people wear it. Your name is out there in relation to a good event.
Consider giving your employees “community service credit” for any time they help out or participate at events you sponsor (or even those you don’t). Credits can build toward an award of some kind (not just a certificate, please) or even a day off with pay. You set the bar, and encourage them to reach it.
Let’s start with what is NOT your message: “We did a great thing!” If you want people rolling their eyes and sighing, go ahead and use that as your headline. But if you want positive community vibes, target your message to what everyone else did, and just ride the coattails.
“Missy Jones raises $10,000 for Leukemia research!” It just so happens she did it by walking in an event that her employer, Daisy-chain Cleaners, sponsored. She’s getting the credit, you’re part of the story.
“Congratulations to the Vipers for winning the tournament!” You’re putting the players front and center, but also letting it be known you were a sponsor of the team.
“Daisy-chain Cleaners employees log 150 volunteer hours!” This gives you a chance to commend your employees while at the same time explaining your policy of encouraging and rewarding them for volunteering in the community. A win-win.
Continue the celebration after the event with in-store signage, messages on your website and on Facebook/Twitter, hang tags, etc. If you can include a link to a broadcast segment or article, or a still-shot from an interview, all the better.
The spotlight should be only on your company obliquely. Let most of the shine be on someone else or the community or an organization that did something. But by saluting them publicly you draw attention to their work and align yourself with their efforts at the same time.
Not all media attention has to be bad. Seeking out positive stories within your sphere of operation can bring good things to light and attach your name to them. Customers do take notice.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.