No business survives (let alone flourishes) on its own.
Your own experience as a business owner or manager should tell you this is true. While your law firm, medical practice, or other enterprise is an important resource for your community, you are equally dependant on your community. Your neighbors act as clients or customers. They are vital components of your word-of-mouth marketing. Doing good works in your city or town and earning the good will of your fellow citizens isn’t just the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective—it’s also a great idea for your company’s general success.
“Doing good works” for your community, state, or even on a larger scale has benefits at all levels. It can be a bonding experience for your employees, giving them a sense of wellbeing that transcends the office and allows them to enjoy working together for the benefits of others. And, of course, being active in your community establishes your business as an involved, caring, and worthwhile public citizen.
We’ve been beating this particular drum for quite a while, of course. Now and then, clients will send us email saying, “That sounds all very good, but I’m not sure on how to start.” In response to those requests, we’re presenting a quick and easy explanation of the process.
“There’s costumes in the barn and my dad knows music—let’s put on a show!”
Life’s a little more complicated than how it was depicted in 1940s movie musicals. The first step in developing a role for your business in a charity event or sponsorship is finding a compatible match for your company. No doubt you are already receiving requests for money or assistance from community event program directors, charitable organizations, or even professional organizations and associations. Your employees may know of worthy organizations that have special meaning for them or have provided their families with critical assistance in the past. And don’t forget that your firm or business can always create its own event, perhaps to feed the hungry during a holiday or to give school supplies to needy children before classes resume in the fall.
Typical types of events which our partners have participated in or sponsored include:
- Runs or walk to benefit local charities or national pledge drives
- Benefit concerts
- Hands-on volunteer days
- Library book sales
- Toy, school supply, food, or winter coat drives
- Golf tournaments
- Event galas
- Picnics and family sports events
- Local or national telethons
The range of potential activities is limited only by your imagination.
The essentials of advance planning
Ideally, someone in your organization—you, an appointed staff member, or even a permanent committee—will decide how many and what kind of charity events your company will participate in over the course of the year. While this planning should be completed on an annual basis, your calendar doesn’t have to run from January through December; make the commitment according to your own schedule.
For your reference, some useful links to health and safety observances include:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2015 Designated Safety Weeks and Annual Conferences
- National Safety Council Seasonal and Annual Safety Calendars
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – National Health Observances Schedule
The planning committee should draft a list of possibilities and narrow it down to your firm’s top choices. Be sure to ask your staff for input to see who is willing to get involved in which events. From there, begin scheduling your calendar of events for the year.
Once you have the commitments locked down, you can begin to inform your staff about event times, locations, contact information, how and when to sign up to participate, and the name of the event coordinator for anyone who has questions.
Integrating social media to publicize the event and your participation
The period leading up to the day of the event is critical for mobilizing public interest in the cause and helping the public identify your firm with the event.
Beginning two or three weeks before the event takes place, begin to promote the event on social media. Provide information about the event and encourage people to attend or donate to the cause. Tag the appropriate parties in your social media posts. Most businesses and charities have Facebook pages which you can tag in order to connect with them online.
You can also use the pre-event period for offline promotional efforts. Write a press release and send it to local newspapers, television, and radio outlets (any other media connections that you have). Indicate your willingness to participate in an interview about the event and your company’s participation, or appoint a staffmember to act as a spokesperson for the firm. Of course, the press release can also be handed over to your usual press release distribution site, and you can share the release on social media. And don’t forget that any coverage by the mass market press can in turn become fodder for another press release (Headline: “Local Business Leader Makes the Case for Compassion”) and dissemination through your social media accounts.
And that brings us to your website: the best tool you have for publicizing your firm’s activity. Create a landing page on your website with information about the event. Remember to cover these topics:
- Background on the organization you are supporting
- Information on how your firm is supporting the event
- The history of the event, including how many years have you sponsored it
- Details about the event date, location, and contact information
- Details about how the public can also get involved.
And don’t forget the amazing power of reciprocal promotion, otherwise known as backlink strategy. Contact the webmaster of the charity to ask for a link from his organization’s website on a sponsorship page (if there is one) or one of the main pages to your firm’s website. If necessary, explain how trading links is mutually beneficial: visitors to your business site will see your endorsement of the charitable event and will become favorably disposed to it.
On the day of the event
Images and video are now essential to professional marketing, and you dare not forget that on the day of this special event. People respond to and engage with pictures, whether they are on your website or on social media sites. Encourage everyone to take pictures or videos during the event. Plan ahead so that someone be in charge of taking good-quality pictures, if possible. Later, when you post these images and videos on social media, be sure to tag your business and the organization or event that you are supporting; also use the event’s hashtag in your posts, if one is available.
Effective marketing isn’t built from pictures alone. You—or someone you trust—should take notes during the event to help write a post-event blog post. The same person can also be responsible for getting quotations from event attendees and volunteers from your team.
After the event: Assessing the success
Within a day or two of the event, publish on your website the blog post you wrote about the event, and promote the article on your social media profiles. Include interesting details, such as:
- How much money was raised
- Pictures or video of the event
- Quotations from your employees and attendees of the event
- The organizer’s assessment of your firm’s role in the event
You can go into even more detail in your social media accounts, with more posts about how the day’s activities turned out, thanks to attendees and supporters, and more event photos.
Of course, no marketing effort has demonstrated its worth until it faces a complete assessment. The weeks after the event provide you with a chance to review the data you have collected. Your firm’s event committee should investigate the following questions before making its final assessment of the activity:
- Was any of your content (blog, social media posts, or press release) picked up by other sites?
- Have any clients or customers mentioned the event?
- Did the blog, press release, or social media postings drive any traffic to your website?
- Were you featured in any local news stories?
- Was this a positive experience for your team? Even if the marketing results were lackluster, the event still counts as a success from your standpoint if it helped workers form closer bonds. Are your employees filled with a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment? Did they enjoy participating in the event? Would they do it again?
Follow this up with a letter or an email to the event coordinator, thanking him for his work making the event a success. If there was interest within your team, ask to participate again the next year.
More information is available
That sums up our overview on how charitable events can assist your social media marketing. But, of course, we’ve only scratched the surface. We can tell you that some of our partners who have made event participation a major part of their marketing strategy have discovered they can indeed do well by doing good. Send us email if you want to share your own firm’s experiences, or call us if you have marketing questions that need expert answers.