Community relations, as it pertains to businesses, has a two-fold positive effect: first, it allows local businesses to present their employees the opportunity to be a part of their community as a group; second, it provides local positive exposure to a company that may not have a large budget for advertising or marketing. These can both be achieved with five easy engagement efforts.
How to serve:
- Volunteering for a Cause: Almost everyone wants to give back to their community in some way, but often people don’t take the first step or don’t want to do it alone. But, a group of people can motivate each other to work together, taking the burden off one person’s shoulders. Companies can choose volunteer efforts that are relevant to their business (i.e. a car dealer’s employees can offer to give rides to seniors, hardware employees can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity) or they can choose a program that the group is passionate about. Some ideas? Volunteering at an animal shelter, soup kitchen, reading to students, shelters or senior centers.
- Sponsorships and Grants: Want to support a cause, but don’t have the time for volunteering? Your business can offer services or financial assistance to others in the form of a grant or sponsorship. One great idea for a grant is an apprenticeship to those interested in your field to learn at your company. Or, want to support the arts, but they need props instead of volunteers? You can support them with a financial grant. Another great idea is to start a scholarship for college students interested in your field. $1,000 goes a long way to help student debt. Your company can also sponsor a local sports team. Grants can be service or monetarily focused, depending on what best suits your company.
- Community Service Board or Community Project Board: One of the best ways to get your company’s name out is to join a board that is focused on improving your community. This can be a revitalization project, a community clean up, youth services, etc. Smaller organizations are often looking for committee members to join and support them – you never know where your business skills might come in handy!
How to share:
- Social Media: Oh, social media. Of the five efforts, social media is both the easiest and the most difficult to control when it comes to community outreach. You have many ways to communicate with an audience, be it your company’s followers, relevant community groups that your company is a part of, or posting on local event groups. There’s also targeted paid advertising, where you can get your event out to people who may or may not know what your company does. You can also utilize your employees to spread your company’s word. This is all great, however, you must be aware that other people can comment on these posts – and try as you might – they may not be all positive feedback.
- News Releases and Event Calendars: According to net, if your business is backing a non-profit organization’s event, a great way to reach the community is to create a News Release and include your company’s involvement. Send copies to local newspapers, TV and radio stations. A follow up call is often helpful, that way you can explain your role and the good of the event. News and media outlets often have Event Calendars, which are a great place to post about the event that your company is backing. Other great event sites are: Eventful.com, Yelp.com, and adding the event to Facebook and sharing through your business page.
At the end of the year, reflect and assess: Was this good for our company and employees? Did we reach the community as we intended to? Is it in the company’s and employee’s best interest to continue with this outreach or look for something different?
Community engagement and relations are very important to all businesses of any size. It can establish your organization’s ethics in a very visible way on just about any budget. It can also bring your employees together in a team building effort to support an important cause.
Now get out there and engage! Need help on getting started? Feel free to contact us.