Do the Right Thing and Take the Publicity
by Vikki Nelson
Volunteering time to a noble non-profit cause can evoke more than warm, fuzzy feelings. Your efforts can also garner high-profile publicity for your business. Donating products or contributing services to community organizations can amount to more than a tax deduction. Those actions can double duty by attracting valuable media attention that puts your business in the limelight.
Too many entrepreneurs overlook golden opportunities to generate good will with their good deeds. Publicity is something that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t feel comfortable with, including those that are not entrepreneurs too. They may not like to toot their own horn, but that is what publicity is all about. Publicity not only escalates your visibility within the community where your customers live, work and play, but also bolsters your credibility more than any slick advertising campaign. If customers encounter your business message in an advertisement, they know you are saying something in a self-interested manner. But, if you can get the media to say the same thing in their own voice in an editorial column or in a news setting, the public more readily believes it. Public relation companies call that “third party endorsement.” But don’t sit idly by and wait for the media to come call for your story. No, you need to generate your own publicity about your work with non-profit or charitable organizations.
Opportunities for community service abound. However, you will want to affiliate yourself with not only worthwhile causes that reflect what you and your business stand for, but also with an organization that shares your target market of customers and prospects, i.e. banks working with youth groups, construction companies working with education, health care companies working with hospitals.
Never be shy about asking about publicity, either in a local program for a school event for example, or the local newspaper covering a charitable event that you are very much involved with. If the idea of self-promotion through volunteer efforts makes you a bit squeamish, take heart in the knowledge that charitable organizations fully understand the motives that drive contributions. They are well aware if business angles for doing good deeds.
There are basically three reasons that people give to organizations... there’s the noble incentive to help a worthy cause... sometimes, there’s the tax deductions reason... then, there’s the publicity reason. Charitable organizations know those reasons and they know that getting publicity is part of the package, not to mention that they too benefit from the publicity.
There now, don’t you feel better, that means you can freely ask a charity to include your business name on its list of donors. If you contribute to a particular project that the organization promotes and publicizes, you can request that your name be included as a sponsor of or contributor to the project. Even if you operate a one person business, be sure your name becomes affiliated with the organization. After all is said and done, you feel good about your time and effort for the good cause, and the good cause feels good about your effort, time and contribution!