April was not only full of front-page worthy client news, PR wins, and agency-wide cheers; it was also full of valuable lessons. As many years of industry experience as we all have, individual and combined, it’s our shared client experiences that ensure we’re always keeping our creative juices flowing and skills fresh.
Here are a few things we learned – or had reaffirmed through our client work – this past month:
1. An event that speaks to your mission matters.
The Arc of Dutchess’ Evening of Discovery event helped pull the curtain back on the individuals the non-profit supports and how very extraordinary they are. Bonus: we all danced in the aisles and smiled for days after. If you’re going to hold a gala or fundraiser, let it be one that showcases who you are as an organization and what makes you different. The best confirmation of this event’s success was the awe of the attendees that evening and the people who told us they were now more aware of the excellent work The Arc of Dutchess does in the community, and who the non-profit supports day-in, day-out.
2. Let the people your organization or business helps tell the story for you.
ArchCare at Ferncliff’s Center for Neurodegenerative Care had its grand opened this spring, complete with a special mass and appearance by His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The $4 million-plus unit, the first of its kind in the Hudson Valley, helps people with Huntington’s disease and ALS live out their lives closer to those who love them and with the specialized care they deserve. A well-executed event and personal stories of patients and their loved ones served by the Center helped bring the story to life and, in the process, helped us achieve major news headlines including stories on Fios1 News and in the Poughkeepsie Journal, The Daily Freeman, Catholic New York, The Hudson Valley News and more (including two front page, above-the-fold stories).
3. Make the most of your strengths…and act fast.
Astor Services for Children & Families has extraordinary helping hands in Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton, two prominent actors whose hearts are even bigger than the credentials in their IMDB profiles. The couple has personally taken up the cause of helping the children who call this non-profit’s Rhinebeck facility home. Their hands-on support for a renovation of a children’s residence was a huge media moment, but required work around busy schedules (like the filming of The Walking Dead) and lots of other moving parts. With 24 hours’ notice, a press conference was called to discuss the project. A couple of weeks later, a follow-up reveal of the newly refreshed residence equaled more coverage. A quick decision to use Facebook Live on-site during the first media day meant the message went viral, reaching far beyond the news crews there that day, while social pushes afterward extended the interest even further. Countless likes, shares, comments and retweets ensued along with some great stories in HVNN, Spectrum News, the Poughkeepsie Journal, The Daily Freeman, The Hudson Valley News, Catholic Charities’ newsletter and more.
4. Sometimes you just have to leap.
Pro bono client Greystone Programs, Inc. caught our hearts, then we caught the local media’s enthusiasm. The 2nd Annual Leap for Autism had a fundraising goal of $50,000 — 25% more than the following year’s event. Dozens of placements, and a feature story on the non-profit’s mission, helped smash the goal, raising more than $57,000 and garnering increased support and awareness within the community. This event taught us that the sky is the limit, literally, when it comes to creative events and using public relations tactics to successfully spread the word.