Like you we have multiple requests for donations per month. Many of these we cannot support because of limited resources. We are dedicated to giving back and being a strong part of our community in a socially conscious manner. But how do we as wrap and signage companies do that? In this article I am going to help you filter through all the donation requests and select the right non-profit projects to take on. These projects will have the properties and potential to provide your business the publicity and have maximum impact on your selected community of need.
Why we choose to be a socially conscious company and give back to our community?
• Helping our community
• Create a positive reputation for our business
• Positive bonds with partnering companies
• Generate publicity
• Increase business
• Meet the corporate influencers in the community
Contributing to society is not just a trend. It has also been shown to increase profits. With this knowledge more companies are realizing that they can help people and grow their company too. When two similar products are shown side by side, 97 percent of the participants chose to purchase the product that gave a portion of their proceeds to a charity. How do we employ this concept to our industry?
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
Let us start by highlighting one of our projects that had all of the elements of a successful non-profit project:
• Potential to attract industry partners to reduce costs/develop strong ties
• Potential to interest the media/news sources
• Potential to have real impact on the population of need
About a year ago a wonderful lady approached us about a project involving wrapping her truck in graphics advertising the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Her name is Dani, and she had been personally touched by this cause when her brother committed suicide a few years ago.
Initially when one of my employees approached me with the project I rejected it, even though I had also been personally touched by this cause when a good friend of mine in college took his life. Despite my feelings, I had to think of the health of my business and this woman was asking us to donate a $3,500 wrap! I had given to other non-profits through sponsorships in the past that had not provided any decent side effects to grow my business, nor provide the recognition and publicity that is necessary to grow my business.
However, in the back of my mind, I also knew that I hadn’t actually done anything with previous projects to pursue the publicity my past sponsorships could have garnered. This project could be different. We would put a plan in place, to actively pursue the publicity this topic and our incredible team deserved.
TIME TO PLAN
Beyond the publicity I knew that this would be a perfect media for this cause. A vehicle wrap would reach thousands of people every day on the road. People experiencing severe depression could anonymously call the hotline on the road and seek help. I decided to make a few phone calls. I called our representative at MACTac and they happily agreed to donate the material for the wrap, MacTac JN5529BFDM Bubble Free and LF3649-Permacolor RAYZor laminate. Manufacturers know the value of positive publicity.
What started out as a disconnected project with little potential and a lot of expense started to take on life because I had found an international partner for this project with just a few phone calls. So now with the expense of the material gone, I was now able to reduce my cost to design and installation only.
To check on the potential media interest of the project, I called a friend who owns a PR firm. She told me about media planning, and directed me to the media sources I was interested in submitting the article to. Media sources are always seeking public interest stories, but in order to have any chance at getting your article published you need to hit them when they are scheduled to cover the topic. I discovered that National Suicide Prevention Week is in early September every year. That was our time to contact the media sources. It was June when we started and had plenty of time to plan.
We started by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) and getting approval for Dani to use their 800 number and to get approval on the design of the wrap. Our biggest challenge ended up being the design due to the sensitivity of the topic. We went though at least six versions of the design. We opted not to use pictures of people’s faces or hands and arms; in fact after a while we could see how just about any photograph could be negatively interpreted! We contacted Duke University Health Systems and had doctors review the wrap design and with their expertise in psychology, eventually we settled on an illustrated phone, with a modern, clean feel for the truck.
During the time that the design was being completed, our team compiled a list of media resources so that when the time came we could quickly execute the plan. There are many free press release submission sites on the Internet that are searched by webcrawlers and will get you listed in the major search engines for keywords included in the Press Release. Some of these sites include:
There are also press release templates on these sites that will help you write media-ready releases that will have all of the elements of creating a professional release.
Part of our research included forums and blogs that highlighted the cause where we posted a link to our website where the project was highlighted and talked it up. We also contacted bloggers who write on the topic and were successful at having our project highlighted on a few blogs online.
Targeting specific media outlets that are niche to the project is a more effective way than submitting releases to general media outlets like newspapers and TV. However, do not pass up submitting to those sources.
Using the donated material, in house design, and installers, we were able to do this design at a significantly reduced rate.
After all was said and done we landed other jobs that paid for the project that we wouldn’t have otherwise landed, we gained a lot of community recognition locally and within the Suicide Prevention community, and received thousands of dollars of advertising that we would have had to pay for.
Just remember, when choosing a non-profit project you can’t go wrong if you find a cause you are passionate about. Network within the organization and get friendly with their board of directors, who tend to be very influential corporate leaders in the business community. If they are a part of the organization, more than likely they care about the same cause you are passionate about, giving you a great chance at earning their signage and wrap business.
As a wrap and signage company we are all positioned in a unique way to be able to provide higher visibility to otherwise unseen positive causes. Be proud of your project and use it as a tool when you are networking. People are interested in hearing about good things your company is doing; it always shows better than talking about yourself.
The bottom line is: Don’t donate a banner to the local film fest just to end up $150 short with nothing to show for it. Strategically choose your projects and partners, leverage publicity to grow your business, and help the community in return.