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Tough Times Prove to be a Call-to-Action for PR Firms and Their Clients

| January 1, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Release Date: Thursday, January 01, 2009

Media Contact: Caryl Bixon-Gordon (201) 796-7788

Tough Times Prove to be a Call-to-Action for PR Firms and Their Clients

A Case Study
Caryl Bixon Gordon, President
Caryl Communications, Inc.
Fair Lawn, New Jersey: January 2009

Thrift Shops With Low Inventories and Increased Need Get Help

The slowing economy has created a perfect storm for gift giving and charitable organizations: growing populations that need help, and shrinking pools of donors and resources. For public relations agencies, these tough times are a distinct call-to-action.

Just read the news. One of our employees did, and in response, she suggested a company-wide campaign. “I read an article that thrift shops have been among the hardest hit by the current economic crisis, with inventories at an all-time low,” noted Amy Vesley. “The Salvation Army, for example, reported that sales in stores around the country this fall spiked 5-to-15% while donations fell 10-to-25%.”

Our entire team rallied, helping to create a template for clients that outlined an overall strategy with individualized programs. Some 50% of our clients responded without hesitation to get involved, choosing to help The Salvation Army or the charity of their choice. The combined results brought together clients, their staff, customers and the public who, in one month, collected truckloads of clothing for multiple charities that operated thrifts.

We recommended launching the campaign prior to Thanksgiving so that the thrifts and their customers in need could benefit in time for the holidays. From a publicity standpoint, the timing enabled us to distinguish clients’ efforts through media outreach prior to the traditional holiday season of giving.

Milestones for News Exposure

The purpose of the clothing drive campaign was to give clients with deep philanthropic commitments a new way to give back in these historically difficult times. In fact, not only did they showcase their organizations as good neighbors, some clients also reported to us that members of the public who participated turned out to be excellent prospects as a result of their involvement in the charitable effort.

At the same time, the efforts produced the key component of any good public relations campaign: multiple media opportunities. Publicity began at the launch of each clothing drive with individual client news releases, calendar listings and photos. During the campaign, the people and charities involved were highlighted with media advisories and news releases.

By December 1, more than 1,000 bags of clothing were collected, with more still being counted. The efforts made headlines in approximately 20 media outlets and generated more than 100 published articles and listings.

The Givers

The final publicity, still in progress at the time of this writing, was designed to highlight the effort from a group perspective as well as individually. For example, three of the companies were based in Bergen County, New Jersey: The Allendale Community for Mature Living, Borst Landscape & Design, and The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 164. All three have a long history of community-oriented work and did not hesitate to reach out to their team members, customers and neighbors to help the less fortunate in the region.

The Allendale Community, which offers three distinct senior residences on one campus, hosted a Holiday Clothing Drive to benefit the Clothes Line Thrift Shop at Archer United Methodist Church in Allendale, N.J. The project was incorporated as part of the Allendale Community’s campus-wide “Caring for the Community” outreach program. It marked the second effort on behalf of the thrift shop, which serves residents throughout northwestern Bergen County.

Borst Landscape & Design, an award winning full-service landscape firm, chose the Star of Hope Thrift Shop in Paterson as the recipient of its donations. Borst’s four-week clothing drive filled six of their vans with clean, gently-used men’s, women’s, children’s and infant’s clothing brought to Borst’s headquarters in Allendale by scores of generous employees, clients and neighbors. The program was one of many community service projects for Borst, which has supplied numerous Bergen County families in need with fresh-cut holiday trees through their “Green Christmas” giving program since 2006.

The Salvation Army benefited from IBEW Local 164’s clothing drive. The donations were dropped off at the Local’s Training Academy, located at 65 W. Century Road in Paramus, and the response from members and the community exceeded expectations.

Local 164 performs community outreach projects consistently throughout New Jersey. Recent efforts included Rebuilding Together Bergen County, an annual home repair event to help seniors and families in need; Habitat for Humanity; and an annual toy drive for local children and those whose parents are serving in the armed forces.

Real Estate Clients Rally the Troops

In another twist, two commercial real estate clients participated in the clothing drives with involvement from tenants, increasing good will in their buildings and generating a “good neighbor” image in their communities.

Prism Capital Partners, a real estate investment company headquartered in Englewood, N.J., held clothing drives to benefit the Salvation Army at two properties: One Harmon Plaza in Secaucus and BroadAcres Office Park in Bloomfield. In just nine days, they filled more than 200 oversized bags with clothing.

Similarly, Gyrodyne Company of America Inc., a Long Island-based real estate investment trust, contacted tenants at two properties: their headquarters building at One Flowerfield in St. James, N.Y. and the Cortlandt Medical Center in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. They also reached out to the general community and collected box-loads of clothing to benefit the Salvation Army Thrift Stores in Peekskill and East Northport, N.Y.

In addition, NAIOP-New Jersey, a leading trade organization for the commercial and industrial real estate industry publicized its coat drive to members over a two-week period and collected more than 200 garments for the Salvation Army in New Brunswick just in time to help area residents cope with winter chill.

On the residential real estate side, The Walters Group, a rapidly growing builder in southern New Jersey, collected roughly 3,000 garments in a month-long drive to benefit The Salvation Army. Proceeds from the sale of the donated goods will be used to aid the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Trenton. Walters Group has a long history of community service – contributing to food banks, donating time and materials to Habitat for Humanity, hosting Red Cross blood drives, supporting local schools and other worthy causes.

A Philosophy of Giving
Caryl Communications has handled many charitable events and has frequently highlighted the charitable works of clients. But this was the first time we initiated an across-the-board charitable campaign that involved so many of clients at once. The reason the campaign worked so well is that the program fulfilled a vital need. At the same time, every one of the clients involved has a company-wide philosophy of giving, so they truly gave from the heart. That is the key to any good charitable public relations campaign.


Category: NEWS, Uncategorized

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