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© 2019 Cascade Communications Public relations agency and marketing communications for small business and startups. Offices in Chicago and Omaha.

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  • Jennifer Fortney

Doing Good Can Double PR Exposure


I'm really amazed at the number of new, small businesses that have come to me recently with a real commitment to community and understand the importance of giving back. And, today's startups are taking their social responsibility to new heights. We all know that you have to keep the balance of things and you can't get without giving. Today, we see so many large corporations that have become so out of touch with their community. There was a time when corporate responsibility was more about the environment and their community then whether the products they're manufacturing are safe or not.

Well, it's today's small businesses and entrepreneurs who are putting their dedication to the community and

local and national charities into their business plans right away. As we all know, perception is 9/10s of the rule, and, while you're heart is truly committed to making a difference, it not only provides a positive impression on customers, but can give you more opportunity for positive public relations. For most companies launching on a national level I always recommend that they tie in with local charities in each market. Why? Because these news outlets want local news. They want to see companies coming in and making a positive impact on its community and residents. It has become harder over the years for me to generate news for national charities in different markets, so this is a very important thing to consider when developing your community programs. Charities can also help you drive positive public relations to your business in a couple of ways. You can create a product and commit proceeds of sales to a charity, you can hold a marketing event to bring attention to your business and tie them in, or auction off product with celebrity or local celebrity involvement. Years ago I managed a 25-city campaign for Jim Beam Brands' DeKuyper Pucker Schnapps. It was a longest kiss challenge (get it? Pucker, kiss?) and winners took home $1,000. The entrance fee was a recommended donation to a local charity and we had representatives on hand to assist in managing the event. In turn, the company donated an extra $1,000 to each charity. Two things, the event was interesting and very quarky and attracted media attention on its own, but the charity tie in in many markets made it easier for us to achieve even more media because we made each contest local. At the end of the day, we're back at perception. It's always good to look out for our neighbors, those who support us in growing our business. It shows your concern and commitment for your community. A good charity partner can become a long term partner - you scratch their back and they'll scratch yours. Eventually this partnership becomes branded in consumers minds. They'll remember your good works and take that into consideration in purchasing your product or service down the road.

Eventually, giving back will become second nature and the focus of your overall company mission.

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