Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gimme Shelter: Share Your Community Relations

A recent writing assignment introduced me to a touching community relations initiative organized by a local chapter of an automotive trade association. The local members arranged to repair and tune-up the vehicles of women living at the city's shelter for battered women -- at no charge. All parts and labor were donated by participating service centers and parts distributors and retailers. Very cool, very generous, very worthwhile.

I have volunteered at several shelters, so this strikes a chord in my heart. At the same time, though, I have to admit that I find myself thinking, "Hmmm...how might the generous souls participating in this annual program let their customers know how much they care about these women and their community?"

So with that in mind, here are just a few suggestions for how each type of business involved here could get the most mileage out of this already worthwhile effort.

The trade association

  • Newsletter article about the event

  • Newsletter article explaining how other chapters can duplicate one city's event

  • News item on Web site (helps show prospects that members give back)

  • News release sent to industry trade magazines

  • Daily newspaper op-ed on the importance of giving back, using this situation as an example
The nonprofit shelter

  • Thank you letter sent to daily newspaper op-ed page

  • Newsletter article

  • News item on Web site

  • Example on Web site of an in-kind contribution to the shelter
The parts distributors and suppliers

  • Op-ed sent to daily newspaper -- "Why we and our customers do these things and why we'd like others to join us"

  • Thank you letter sent to daily newspaper op-ed page thanking participating repair shops

  • Newsletter article

  • News item on Web site

  • News release sent to industry trade magazines

  • Trade magazine article on how to create an event like this in any city

  • Pitch to daily newspaper business section or local business journal about small businesses that give back to the community in big ways

The independent service centers

  • Pitch to daily newspaper business section or local business journal about how to keep employees happy by giving them opportunities to volunteer in a meaningful way

  • Photo collage on poster board on waiting room wall

  • Newsletter article

  • News item on Web site with photos

  • Daily newspaper op-ed about why we give back

There are more ideas, too, of course, but this is a start. Maybe they will get you thinking about how you can let your constituents know that you give back to the community because it is important that they know. I know you won't do so with a "gosh, aren't we swell," tone because most of the businesses I encounter who participate in these programs have more of an "aw shucks, just trying to do my part," attitude. But we consumers want to know that the small businesses serving us have a heart, so remind us!

2 comments:

Jen, writer Membership Millionaire said...

It's amazing what kind of help people can give by banding together. Whoever came up with the idea to help these women is really admirable. We can all help in our own ways, depending on what tools we have. As long as you're willing to help out, everything else will follow.

Sandra Beckwith said...

I agree, Jen. And many of us are more likely to support a business that is willing to help out.