Passion is essential for cause efforts to have lasting impact

Anyone who has worked on a campaign tied to charity, or another message of giving, will likely tell you that it was by far their most rewarding and enjoyable challenge.

Anyone who has worked on a campaign tied to charity, or another message of giving, will likely tell you that it was by far their most rewarding and enjoyable challenge. Cause-related marketing, we all know, isn't going anywhere because consumers demand it and employees relish it. It's part of doing business. But to truly shine in this space, you must mean it and stick it out even in tough times.

In October, Kraft launched an effort that was smart on so many levels. It hosted a week of employee volunteerism called "Make a Delicious Difference Week." While staffers were inspired by the prospect of giving back (12,000 participated, 2,000 more than Kraft's ambitious goal), the company threw in a bonus and matched their dollar contributions to nonprofits on a 2:1 basis for the week. The branding on this effort was great because it tied back to Kraft's newly introduced motto of "Make Today Delicious."

It also added a social media element, creating a video with a call to action. The video - though too long in my opinion - showed staff volunteering and discussing the importance of giving back. Kraft posted it on YouTube and offered to donate free meals to Feeding America, its 25-year charity partner, for each click that month.

Kraft's effort is terrific in its mission on giving back both on a national and local level. It also aids the company's business objectives by feeding into positive press, boosting its reputation from board rooms to minority communities. The branding isn't too overt, nor does it smack of cheap hit-and-run giving that can leave the consumer or employee left wondering if it really cares.

As PR pros counseling businesses on handling cause and CSR efforts, understanding how to inspire passion behind such programs is key. One of the best ways to get this know-ledge is to experience it.

I was reminded of this by a PR pro at a Brunswick Group-sponsored event for breast cancer research. The firm didn't just put its name on the banner, it helped organize the event and was fully involved. Some staffers planned to run the New York City Marathon November 1 to further fundraising. Brunswick did not choose this cause just because the pink ribbon is popular, but rather because it was personal (several staffers have battled the disease) and they were passionate about it. The enthusiasm infected the room and will no doubt serve Brunswick in more ways than one.

Rose Gordon is the news editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at rose.gordon@prweek.com.

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