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.

Three Ways Charities can Improve Social Media

In terms of developing a strong and cohesive social media strategy, charities usually come across more hurdles due to the limitations in funding. However, the accessibility and ease of the internet has resulted in most charities utilizing social media to raise awareness, drive traffic to their websites, and promote events and publications.

Here are some practical tips for charities to improve visibility, engagement and fundraising efforts:

Know your audience inside out

Get to know every detail about the community you’re addressing – from demographics to hobbies to habits. Profiling is a crucial aspect of a tailoring content when it comes to formulating a strong communication strategy. What is their age group? Where do they live? How do they spend their weekends?

WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, was able to use profiling to its advantage. The nonprofit wanted to engage and educate the younger generation on wildlife and environmental concerns. After understanding their audiences habits and preferred social platforms, WWF used SnapChat as the means to distribute their message about how the urgency of protecting endangered species.

Make friends within the industry

Build a strong network of friends within the industry to create mutually beneficial relationships. Reach out to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with a similar audience and work with them to spread your message.

Getting celebrities to use their far-reaching voice can be a great way to get some publicity. The animal right organizations PETA has done this quite effectively by featuring the likes of Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Burke in their birthdays suits saying “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility has led to more corporations seeking to give back to society, often through charitable partnerships. This creates a win-win situation, where charities can benefit from the influence and access to funds. The most important thing to keep in mind when engaging in a strategic partnership is to make sure that the values of the company, individual or celebrity are aligned with your brand.

Create a buzz

Creating a buzz around campaigns doesn’t always require fat wallet. You can build a lot of momentum in your campaign by thinking outside the box with unique, creative and unconventional ideas -think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Messaging that is humorous or has shock value to it is often shared at a much higher rate than messages that incite emotional reactions from the audience.

In 2013, UNICEF Sweden’s campaign was successful in creating a shockwave through its ‘Likes Do Not Save Lives’ campaign, which highlighted the need for the audience to go beyond social media to create a difference. This campaign highlighted the need for explicit calls to action.

There are various things to take into account if you want to make a splash with your campaign. For instance, it’s important to target various platforms to create a larger buzz. Using videos can also be beneficial in reaching and engaging an audience. YouTube is your best friend when it comes to storytelling.

StarKist Caught in Bad PR Net

If you had to guess which popular food brand found itself in the PR hot seat last week, you probably wouldn’t have guessed StarKist Tuna, and yet, that’s exactly what happened. The brand was obliged to plead guilty to a price fixing allegation that could wind up costing the company $100 million, as well as a loss of face in the consumer market.

While most shoppers don’t worry too much when a brand changes a logo or tries to get an edge in the marketplace, when that company is accused of price fixing, people stop and pay attention. According to prosecutors, StarKist “colluded” with two other major brands to keep their prices “artificially inflated.”

Now, the company has been caught, publicly outed, and forced to admit culpability. What remained to be seen is if they would accept responsibility. To date, StarKist has taken a step in that direction. CEO Andrew Choe said, “We have cooperated with the DOJ during the course of its investigation and accept responsibility… We will continue to conduct our business with the utmost transparency and integrity.”

Those who have been following the case say it was just StarKist’s turn. After all, its co-conspirators have already been pushed out into the harsh spotlight of negative media attention.

Back in 2015, Chicken of the Sea attempted to buy Bumble Bee, but that attempt failed to be realized. At that point, Chicken of the Sea executives went to federal authorities and admitted to a conspiracy to inflate prices that involved them, Bumble Bee and StarKist. Subsequently, Bumble Bee paid a $25 million fine, which was more than $100 million lower than prosecutors had asked for. Given that information, it was only a matter of time before StarKist faced the music.

So, what does this mean for all three companies? Well, each has a black eye from all the proceedings. StarKist has yet to hear its penalty, and Bumble Bee, which is still struggling financially, now has to be a fine over the next five years.

But what does that mean for their brand bottom line? Hard to say, but it’s not helping when the Assistant Attorney General is pointing out that “the conspiracy to fix prices on these household staples had direct effects on the pocketbooks of American consumers…”

If that narrative takes hold, the fines may be the least of these tuna companies’ worries. No grocery brand wants to be on the bad side of cost-conscious American shoppers, especially when there are easy alternatives to choose.

Facebook Faces Another Round of Consumer Rage

Facebook may have to go back to D.C. for yet another grilling in front of the Senate Commerce Committee. Just weeks after an obviously uncomfortable confrontation between elected officials and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO is being tasked with responding to reports of user date being shared with “at least 60 device manufacturers” according to Reuters. Again, this is not that long after Zuckerberg promised his company would change many of the business practices that angered users and caused some people to leave the social network altogether.

The problem then, was Cambridge Analytica gaining access to the data of millions of users. That enraged Facebook users, who demanded changes that resulted in Zuckerberg appearing before congress. Now, according to reports in the NY Times, as well as messages from ranking Senators on the Committee, Facebook has given access to other businesses, companies that, according to the report, were “able to access friend’s date even after the friends denied permission to share” such information.

The message from the Senators tacitly invited Zuckerberg to “revise” his testimony that he offered back in April. There was also mention that Zuckerberg’s team has yet to answer hundreds of questions the company said it would address. But Facebook is not the only brand that could face consumer PR backlash over this revelation. Other companies accused of using the data include Apple, Amazon, Blackberry, UTC, Samsung, and Microsoft.

Given the trust issues many Facebook users already had, when they learn the issue was much more widespread than just one political company, and that Facebook knew this, there could be yet another wave of people leaving the social network or taking a break from their daily routine of scrolling timelines. Meanwhile, the companies being accused of taking user data without permission could be seen as complicit in what is becoming one of the largest consumer PR scandals in recent memory.

While it’s true that many Facebook users are nonplussed by the previous revelations, that may change when people begin hearing just how common and widespread the “friends” data “sharing” activities were.

The latest reports excoriate Facebook for allowing “deep access” to user accounts and data, including the data of friends who had set stricter privacy protections. This happened, according to the reports, after Facebook said the company would no longer share such information with outside companies. At present, the story is developing, and the investigation is ongoing. But one thing is certain, consumer trust for Facebook will not be bolstered by these revelations, any attempts to repair that breach by the company will be met with distrust.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations.

Winning the PR battle with Twitter

Winning the PR battle with Twitter

Winning the PR battle with Twitter

Twitter has proven to be the Achilles heel of many individual and corporate brands. There’s no doubt the platform is a tremendous way to connect with customers and fans, and that connection is key to building a dedicated fan base. However, there is a second edge on this sword. Two, really. Twitter can help your brand in innumerable ways, and it can kill you in two distinct ways as well. Continue reading →

LinkedIn Adopting a New Niche Strategy

LinkedIn Adopting a New Niche Strategy

LinkedIn Adopting a New Niche Strategy

Quick, think of the top social media outfits in the world. Likely you came up with Facebook first. From there, where you went would depend on what you do on social media, as well as your age and where you’re from. You might say Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram. But would you say LinkedIn? If you were asked to name the top three? Most would not, and this is a reality LinkedIn is trying very hard to change. Continue reading →