How Charitable Partnerships Can Boost a Brand’s Profile

We’ve talked before about the importance of community impact for businesses both large and small. In any community, there are a wide array of ways to get involved and help improve that community for those living and working in it.

Forming charitable partnerships is another way to get involved and improve the community around a business. Of course, businesses can provide support in ways that individuals cannot to a nonprofit or charity. But these partnerships should always be done with tact and taste — the opposite effect can easily happen if a move is done for seemingly ulterior motives.

Finding the Right Charitable Partnership

When selecting a charitable partnership for a business, there are many things to consider. One of these factors is what charity or nonprofit to partner with. Here are some considerations for this decision:

  •     Core values and mission of the business
  •     Nonprofits that align with these core values naturally
  •     Reputation of nonprofit and of the supporting business
  •     Required budget to support a charitable partnership
  •     End goal of charitable partnership

Core values lie at the heart of a business’ purpose. These values are important. They give consumers a look at the belief and value systems of those in executive positions, and they provide a roadmap of how a business conducts itself in public dealings.

With that in mind, it’s equally important for a business to align itself with a nonprofit that also values the same ideas. The purpose and mission of the nonprofit must also make sense. For example, a leather goods company may not look the best if it were to support PETA, nor would PETA be likely to accept their partnership proposal. This is, of course, an extreme example, but it shows that a partnership should be genuine, not self-serving or just “for looks”.

Forming a Charitable Partnership

Once a business has selected a nonprofit to enter into a partnership with, it’s time to figure out exactly what that partnership is going to look like.

Not every partnership has to look the same. Remember, this has to be a beneficial arrangement for both the business and, more importantly, for the nonprofit. Whether the support is financial, in the form of volunteer help, or other services provided, it’s important to set clear expectations and guidelines for the new partnership. Contracts are helpful in this situation, to protect all parties involved.

Before jumping in, take the time to form a strategy about how a business can best assist a nonprofit. Perhaps a marketing agency can offer its services to a local animal shelter each month. Or maybe an event planning portal can donate a portion of the proceeds to local community programs in an effort to create a safer neighborhood in which to host events. Maybe a local consultant can jump on board to help plan a fundraiser for a nonprofit. The possibilities are endless!

Finding creative ways to help out is important too — it doesn’t always have to just be about writing a big check. In fact, finding other ways to get involved is often even more helpful, especially for under-staffed nonprofits.

Aligning business with a nonprofit is a smart move for many reasons, but the biggest motivator should always be the betterment of community or the helping of others. From this motivation can come a great, fulfilling partnership on both sides.

New Line in the Sand for Vanity Fair

A change in leadership can be a defining moment for any brand. When that brand is a popular international news and culture publication, a shift in leadership can open up the opportunity for a new vision or a chance for the new leader to reinforce the brand’s current message. And, sometimes, the new leader is caught in the middle between ownership that wants a little – or a lot – of both.

When Radhika Jones took over as editor of Vanity Fair, she entered a situation in which the magazine’s ownership is engaged in a stark and wide-reaching cost-cutting program. Positions are being eliminated and some media properties are being off-loaded, even as Jones begins her tenure.

In an interview with CNN about the new challenges she faces, Jones was positive and upbeat, saying it’s a “vital time” to be in the media business. A veteran of both hard news and popular media, Jones brings a strong sense of media culture and a recognition of the tectonic shifts happening in the industry, largely driven by populist and consumer trends.

And Jones’ message? She knows what her audience wants: “Audiences are hungry for new faces and new voices… My goal is to reflect the culture as I see it…” And, culture as she sees it appears to be young, diverse, and groundbreaking. In recent months, Vanity Fair has put Michelle Williams, Felicity Jones, Michael B. Jordan, and Kendrick Lamar on the cover.

Some of her editorial choices have surprised loyal Vanity Fair readers, and Jones said this is a good thing. “It’s been heartening to me to hear that people are surprised by our cover choices…”

One of the biggest challenges put to the new editor was the future of the publication, specifically in print. Jones said she fully expects Vanity Fair to still be available in print in a decade, maybe longer. She said, despite many reports to the contrary, media consumption is not a “zero sum game.” People are consuming both print and digital, so she’s not going to give up on print any time soon.

That’s not to say Jones won’t look toward expanding on Vanity Fair’s online and social footprint. Those efforts, apparently, are partly to entice more subscribers, rather than trying to depend entirely on advertising efforts. This is a tough tightrope to walk for any media editor. Advertising has been a longstanding moneymaker for media, but that market is redefining itself almost by the day. Media companies continue to look for both short- and long-term solutions.

That’s not to say Jones is stepping away from the brand’s successful backstory. “You want to learn what the traditions are, (those) that are worth keeping and that are valuable… Then you want to learn which habits that maybe could be broken… The truth is, Vanity Fair has this fantastic formula, back from when Tina Brown reinvented it in the 1980’s. It’s about a mix of high and low. We cover these certain areas: politics and technology and finance and course Hollywood and celebrity culture. And those things are really the same. We’re doing those stories.”

brad pitt foundation

Brad Pitt’s Foundation Facing Lawsuit

Sometimes, tying a famous name to a charity work can put a big target on that organization. If everything goes well, it’s great PR, but if things go poorly, for whatever reason, there’s that famous name in the headline.

A recent example of this is an Associated Press story in which the Make it Right Foundation is being sued over homes built in places that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The famous name associated with Make it Right? Brad Pitt.

The A-list Hollywood actor’s name was all over the headlines recently because of the lawsuit, which was filed on the behalf of residents of New Orleans Ninth Ward, which was one of the areas hardest hit by flooding after the hurricane. Their attorney, Ron Austin, was all over local media talking about “sicknesses, headaches, and infrastructure issues…”

Of course, Pitt’s name was mentioned prominently in all the reports. According to the story, Pitt created the foundation about two years after Katrina and hired “award-winning architects” to rebuild communities that had been scoured away by wind and fast-moving flood waters. The organization planned to build 150 new homes, billing them as “storm-safe, solar-powered, and green.” Residents could purchase the relatively affordable housing through a combination of government grants, resettlement financing, and donations from the Make It Right Foundation.

At least, that was the plan. But things didn’t quite work out that way. A decade after the first ground was broken on the project, 110 house have been built, and some are, reportedly, already falling apart. The attorney, Austin, complained of mildew, roof leaks, and sagging porches… “Essentially, Make It Right was making a lot of promises to come back and fix the homes that they initially sold these people and have failed to do so…”

So, in an effort to help devastated hurricane victims, Brad Pitt has harnessed himself and his brand to a PR catastrophe. Images of frustrated families, who already suffered unimaginable horror and loss, have been tied to his image.

In response, the Foundation sued the lumber company that provided a lot of the suspect wood, but there’s no news about how or if that suit was settled. Through all of this, Pitt has chosen to focus on the bright side, telling local media:

“I get this swell of pride when I see this little oasis of color and the solar panels… I drive into the neighborhood and I see people on their porch, and I ask them how is their house treating them? And they say, ‘Good.’ And I say ‘What’s your utility bill?’ And they’ll throw something out like, ‘24 bucks’ or something, and I feel fantastic.”

That position may not be one he’s able to hold for much longer. The recent headlines marking the demolition of one of the Make It Right houses brought this issue back into the spotlight even before the lawsuit hit the headlines. The demo, according to the media, was in response to neighbors complaining of the eyesore. In response, Make it Right, though not Pitt, responded with this statement:

“Our homeowners’ well-being and privacy are some of our top priorities and we work closely with them to address their concerns… Each situation is different and we are currently coordinating the necessary follow up with the appropriate parties to address any areas of concern.”

Given the direction this narrative is going, they may want to consider “coordinating” faster… and shifting to a more empathetic message.

 

Vonn hoping to return to form heading into Winter Games

American superstar downhill athlete Lindsey Vonn is excited about her return to major international competition on the world’s biggest stage. She says she feels one hundred percent, despite a lackluster showing recently in Austria.

Vonn says her doubters should put their worries out of their minds. She’s back to the form that helped her win 78 World Cups. The Associated Press caught up with Vonn in Cortina, where she spent the weekend competing in one of the final big races before the Games.

“This snow is perfect. This hill is perfect. I have a lot of confidence here… I don’t need to be careful. I don’t need to worry about the risks. I’m just skiing like normal, and I’m back to normal. This is how I ski when I am skiing well. It’s not like I’m not skiing well.”

The fact that Vonn says she can let it all hang out and not run too careful is good news for her American fans and bad news for her competition. Vonn looked tight and tentative in Austria, though not so in Cortina, where she finished second in the downhill, edged by Italy’s Sofia Goggia.

After the race, that old Vonn enthusiasm was out on display in full force. “I love racing here, and it’s always fun for me to be here. It’s beautiful. It’s hard not to be happy…”

Despite her strong finish and positive attitude, Vonn believes her best skiing is still ahead of her, telling the media after the race that she knows she could have skied better, and that she will need to clean up some of the mistakes she made if she wants to be on the podium in Korea after the scheduled February 21 downhill race.

While Vonn has put on a brave face, there are reasons why some have their doubts. After crashing twice in Alberta, the skier suffered a back injury in Switzerland that had her off her game for some time. She did win one race but sat out the follow-up, because she felt the conditions were not conducive to her competing. To critics who see this as a reason for doubt, Vonn has a very clear message:

“It’s being smart and controlling myself that has always been a problem. I feel like I’ve finally learned my lesson and I’ve been taking it easy to make sure that I can make it to the Olympics. Flipping the switch is something that comes very naturally to me…”

Critics say that remains to be seen, as Vonn has also said she’s “testing” different equipment configurations, which could be a sign of unease. Vonn responds to those criticism by, again, asserting that she’s just being smart about preparation for any conditions.

In the end, the story will be decided out on the slopes, which, Vonn says, is exactly as it should be. She is ready to silence the doubters and regain her reputation as one of the most dangerous downhill runners in women’s skiing.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

ronn torossian in italy

Venus fights back to Wimbledon final

Venus Fights Back to Wimbledon Final

Venus fights back to Wimbledon final

By the numbers, Venus Williams is not the most dominant women’s player in history, in her generation … or even in her own family … but she’s certainly one of the best ever. Venus’ sister Serena is the undisputed GOAT of women’s tennis with 72 titles, 23 Grand Slam singles and over $85 million in prize money. Serena is in good company, with stars of another era like Graf (22 Grand Slams), Navratilova (18 Grand Slams) and Evert (also 18 GS). Continue reading →