Sarah Ford | August 6, 2014

How to garner attention for a company’s philanthropic deeds

By Michelle Gilbert

Many companies place tremendous emphasis on garnering positive publicity from their philanthropic efforts. Unfortunately, news outlets don’t have the time, space or manpower to cover all of the good-for-the-community initiatives that cross their desks.

Unless your announcement is on par with the Ilitch family donating $8 million for high-tech surgery research, there’s no guarantee you’ll make news. So, how do you make your press announcement get noticed by reporters and assignment editors? An innovative approach that focuses on what’s in it for the community will help your news stand out from the crowd.

Create a great visual

Long before I got my first PR job, somebody came up with the inspiring idea to create an oversized check for press announcements about corporate donations to nonprofits. As Charles Caleb Colton, an English cleric and writer from the early 19th century said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Today, oversized checks are overused.

Find another way to cash in on a great visual. A few years ago, I planned a press event to announce combined commitments of more than $100,000 to various nonprofits in Oakland County. Rather than presenting an oversized check to each nonprofit, we created an oversized check ledger with each grant concealed. As each gift was announced, we unveiled another line on our check ledger. This worked particularly well because 1) it was a new visual; and 2) we added an element of surprise with each donation revealed.

Cross pollinate with brand journalism and social media

While traditional media relations is an important part of your quest to communicate all the great work you’re doing in the community, it shouldn’t be your only tactic…

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