In today’s competitive marketplace, differentiation is essential. Certainly, public relations professionals have a huge task in shaping how businesses articulate what makes them unique. The role of public relations, in part, is about finding the nuances of a business’s story. This work can engage clients, media and investors alike in a dialogue and create trust within the communities a business operates – in good times and in bad. No small task. Valuing community investment as part of an overall public relations strategy can help you demonstrate the impact of this work and tip the balance in your favour.
Brand loyalty, in a traditional sense, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It used to be that marketing would shape brand awareness in a push strategy. While that may true, the Millennial and Generation Y are less influenced by traditional marketing efforts. That stated, we would offer that public relations still has an essential role in reaching these audiences. Businesses now have opportunities to interact with the communities in which their employees live and work. We would further offer this can help businesses earn this elusive loyalty by better understanding how to speak to these motivations and create and build greater brand loyalty through integrated strategies.
Community Investment (CI)
CI is more than showing up at events in your community. It is about creating partnerships and developing and measuring investment, engagement and acquisition. Much like a strong public relations strategy, CI can have an impact on the bottom line, through client acquisition, supporting talent recruitment / retention and investor relations to name a few. Quantifying these values through metrics that are both practical and connected with business goals are critical facets in CI. Additionally, CI choices have a significant influence in humanizing business as active agents in a community’s success. This can impact these generations and works to generate trust, which can translate into new business and loyalty.
Let’s look to Sears as an example. In 1999, Sears aligned its public relations and CI strategies. Thought of by some as a retail relic, Sears led the way in promoting its CI. First by advertising its CI platform which resulted in a 6% increase in sales and then talking about a recent $50K donation on a syndicated TV talk show. The result, $27M in additional income. As you can see, investing in community is a significant force in motivating behaviour. Public Relations and CI are the new face of brand loyalty.
Pommashea Noel-Bentley is Managing Partner and CEO of AdvanceU 1st Consultants, with 20+ years of experience in education and fundraising, serving in various roles in university / college and non-profit environments including executive level positions. Pommashea is currently an adjunct faculty member at the New York Institute of Technology Vancouver Campus, teaching seminars in philanthropy and community investment strategy for the MBA program.
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