General Mills feeds dreams with on-the-ground outreach

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills launched a new multicultural outreach campaign, targeting African-American women, with help from the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills launched a new multicultural outreach campaign, targeting African-American women, with help from the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

 

"Feeding Dreams," which officially opened September 3, honors individuals who give back to their community in three target markets: Birmingham, AL; Memphis, TN; and Charlotte, NC.

 

"We chose those markets based on demographics and also where our products tend to over-index with consumers,” said Kimberley Bow Sundy, manager of community relations and PR for General Mills.

 

The PR campaign is focusing on making an emotional connection with communities and is therefore using grassroots, on-the-ground outreach, she added.

 

"Community organizers [in each city] go out and talk about things that you can do to make your community better," Bow Sundy said. "They go to churches and sororities and all the relevant touch points in the African-American community. They are helping us find everyday citizens who are doing extraordinary things to make communities better."

 

For its media relations, General Mills and Fleishman-Hillard, which handles African-American outreach for the company, are targeting not only general market press, but also national black press, and local black newspapers and radio stations. Online, the campaign has a Web site, and the PR campaign is connecting with African-American bloggers.

 

The NCNW, which has partner organizations across the country, is also reaching out to its members, via its Web site and e-mail newsletters, said Avis Jones-DeWeever, the director of research at NCNW.

 

The organization is grateful for the new partnership with General Mills, Jones-DeWeever said, because with it, "we can exponentially grow our efforts in the areas of highlighting the needs of black women and their families."

 

"We spent some time with consumers and talked about what they wanted to see in an AA-specific marketing platform," Bow Sundy said. "They were enthralled by companies who took the time to not just deliver lip-service, but who were active and engaged and a part of the community fabric. From that, we developed Feeding Dreams."

 

Each month through March, General Mills will honor community service organizers, and the first group of "Local Heroes" has already been honored with a $500 Visa check card and a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The campaign will culminate with major community service events in the spring of 2009.

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