Thursday, July 5, 2012

What the Experts Say: Top 10 Tips to Connect Companies to the Community - by Jillian Hillcrest

Jillian Hillcrest is the fictional PR Executive who solves mysteries written by Joyce T. Strand. She has had more than ten years of experience working with the media and the community at Silicon Valley high-tech and biotech companies. In the newest book in the series --OPEN MEETINGS-- scheduled to be launched shortly, she becomes actively involved in the community as part of her responsibilities.

As the head of corporate communications for Harmonia Therapeutics, I frequently work with local organizations and non-profits to support their efforts to entice companies to become more involved – both financially and socially.

It is not intuitively obvious why for-profit companies should become involved with non-profit organizations. If you are a non-profit organization looking to involve corporations in your activities, you might suggest the following Top 10 Reasons to companies as to why they should be involved in the community, or non-profit associations. 
1.     Word-of-mouth publicity – communities are groups of people from a wide range of different types of work, social and activity groups. When they hear about a company, they talk about it to their colleagues and friends—spreading information about a company and its products. 
2.     Media coverage – local reporters from newspapers and blogs cover local events. Participating in community activities can help generate articles about the business. Regional and national media often pick up stories from local media.
3.     Employee engagement—employees like to see their companies involved in the community where they live. Many also like to participate to support local organizations. They are more likely to stay engaged at a company they respect and see involved.
4.     Individual investors – local citizens can also be investors.  The more they understand about a company and its potential, the more likely to invest.
5.     Influence with city and county governments—although not a guaranteed result, a relationship with local city and county governments can offer an opportunity to present viewpoints. 
6.     Accessible event venues—relationships with community organizations and businesses can often open the door to the use of venues for customer, investor, employee and partner events.
7.     Special deals for employees at local stores and restaurants—again, employees enjoy being known as members of a community. Companies can often organize events that will treat employees when they visit.
8.     Local government support and attendance at company events—community involvement in company events can support customer, partner or international partnering and also increase relationships with employees.
9.     Solicitation of company perspective on local development projects—development projects by city and county governments can have an impact on traffic and parking patterns, at a minimum. Officials are more likely to solicit input from companies with whom they sustain a relationship.
10.  Potential candidates for clinical trials or as focus groups for new products.  
What I recommend to my non-profit friends is that you print the above list and send it to those companies whose involvement you want. You can strengthen your case by adding specific examples that support any of these tips.  Of course, you should also include your pertinent request. Good luck!

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