A Round-up of Do Good

Monday, 23 May 2011, 12:53 | Category : General
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Last Thursday, The PR Network sponsored Do Good, an event organised by Bright One and UKTJPR (the UK Technology Journalists and PRs community). Do Good set out to explore how brands and charities can develop mutually beneficial relationships. The speakers did a great job of bringing the discussion to life with examples and some vivid anecdotes.

Here we summarise some of the key discussion points from the evening for those unable to attend.

The importance of a good fit

The starting point of a successful relationship between charities and businesses is in finding a natural fit between the two organisations. For instance, Kenco and Silver Spoon were apt choices as partners for The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, organised by Macmillan Cancer Support. Whereas, as Susie Richardson (Macmillan’s PR manager) pointed out, shoe-horning a mobile network into the event just wouldn’t work.

The fit may not always be as obvious as it seems. Tony & Guy is another firm that Macmillan has partnered with. One of the most difficult things for cancer patients is losing their hair and Macmillan worked with Tony & Guy staff to help sufferers deal with this sensitive issue.

What’s in it for everybody?

Chris Reed of Brew summed up the views of the panellists when he said: “The best CSR works when both parties can be very transparent about what they’re doing and why.”

Corporations can decide to partner with charities for any number of reasons – perhaps because they think it’s the right thing to do, they want a particular positive association or access to particular audiences. Sony’s stated commitment to sustainability was the driving force behind its decision to partner with the World Wildlife Foundation on Open Planet Ideas – an initiative aimed at crowd-sourcing creative applications of technology for the benefit of the environment.

Whatever the motivation, both parties need to be clear and open about what they expect to gain from working together to set the parameters for engagement and avoid any awkwardness later on.

Getting the content right

Participants all emphasised the importance of social media and of crafting fresh angles. In telling stories “straight from the horse’s mouth”, video blogs were held up as a great way of provoking an emotional response and eliciting donations.

Jonathan Waddingham of JustGiving indicated just how powerful social networks can be when he revealed that on average every person who ‘likes’ a donation on Facebook brings in three new friends to the charity concerned.

In traditional media, journalists remain a difficult crowd to please and charities have to work hard on original perspectives. As Chris Reed explained, “No matter how passionate a charity is about their cause, the media have heard it before. New angles are always needed”.

Case studies are crucial for traditional media but these can also present challenges. The example was cited of a journalist turning down a story on a cancer patient because the sufferer had no hair and wouldn’t make for a great photo.

Measuring success

Discussing how to evaluate the success of a campaign, panellists suggested numerous options: tickets sold, donations, number of followers / likes / tweets before, after or during a campaign, and consumer surveys assessing whether attitudes had changed.

As Macmillan’s Susie Richards said, what’s important is to set clear objectives and metrics at the beginning.

Panellists also highlighted the importance of monitoring KPIs throughout the campaign and reacting accordingly. Chris Reed gave the example, “if our Facebook page is driving more traffic than our Google ads, let’s move the budget around.”

Pro bono is hard to get right

Speakers seemed to agree that pro bono work – arguably, the conventional means by which PR agencies have often supported charities – can be difficult for both parties to get right. It can be difficult for agencies to prioritise pro bono work in the face of demands from paying clients. Conversely, if charities spend money on a PR service, they also have a lot more recourse if things don’t go to plan.

Rather than campaigns, one suggestion for successful pro bono work was for agencies to set aside a regular period of time when charities can visit them and receive one or two hours of free consultancy.

Hopefully, these themes and pointers give you a good sense of the night’s discussion. Thanks to Bright One and UKTJPR for organising the event and also to the speakers, Chris Reed, Susie Richardson, Sam Phillips and Ben Matthews.


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