Be’Cause’ of You

I don’t mean the hit song by Kelly Clarkson. I mean YOU—the PR pro, publicist, idea peddler, creative genius, whatever you want to call yourself. You’ve got clout and Klout. You are in a position to make a difference.

What I’m talking about here goes beyond securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in media placements for a client (although that would be the icing on the cake). It’s about making a difference in people’s lives by counseling your clients to roll out a cause-related PR campaign. If they haven’t tried it, I believe it’s time that they do.

I’m so psyched about penning this piece on cause-related PR because I’m a big believer in its merits. And I’ve seen it time and time again on how media outlets are much more open to covering your news if it’s tied-in with a reputable charity. The question is why haven’t you gotten buy in from your client.

Here a four personal insights on getting your client on board:

♦ Find the right fit – If your client is an alcoholic beverage company, Mothers Against Drunk Driving may not be the appropriate partner. I think you get my point.

♦ Find a partner with a strong grassroots base – There are many organizations out there that boast of millions of supporters, but only a tiny percentage are actually active in promoting its cause. However, there are some organizations that are smaller in total number, but have a majority that are actively getting its message out to the public. I don’t want to provide examples of the former, but of the latter— Autism Speaks, Soldiers’ Angels, Livestrong, Feeding America and the ASPCA have extremely active supporters. [This is based on personal research and experience partnering with these organizations.]

♦ Let the nonprofit do some of the work – If you’ll be cutting a significant check to a charitable organization, I think the least it could do for your client is help get the word out about your cause-related PR campaign. Again, if they have an active base, you’ll get the media attention and word of mouth.

♦ Be creative but not complicated – If your client wants to help and has money to donate to a charity, don’t have him simply write a check. Believe me, your client doesn’t need to give away millions of dollars to receive some earned media. For example, one of my clients, Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, a chain of Texas Bar-B-Q restaurants in the Southwest, decided to donate to the local food banks. Instead of cutting a check, we decided to donate a dollar for every pound of meat sold (yes, they sell barbecued meat by the pound in Texas) and added 50 cents for every new Facebook fan and Twitter follower to split across all food bank partners. The campaign ran for three days, and in the end, the chain secured heightened awareness and received media coverage in all of its markets. More details here. It was a simple fundraising campaign that was easy for the media to report on the air, in print and online.

As you start planning 2011, please make sure you add cause-related PR to your PR plan. Make this your New Year’s resolution. To paraphrase a wise marketing dude, Creed Ford IV, even if the whole damn thing flops, you would’ve still made a difference in someone’s life.

And that, my friends, is what PR should be about.

You can follow Joseph at @PRFlipside.

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