The Boss gives boost to the FoodBank 'bailout' initiative

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey faced a perfect storm last fall. The worsening economy resulted in a growing number of people who needed help to buy food. Meanwhile, fewer people were donating to the group as they struggled to support themselves and their families.

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey faced a perfect storm last fall. The worsening economy resulted in a growing number of people who needed help to buy food. Meanwhile, fewer people were donating to the group as they struggled to support themselves and their families.

In response, the group and Coyne PR – CEO Tom Coyne is on the group's board of directors – tied its pro-bono effort to the financial crisis, asking residents to “bail out” the FoodBank with donations.

Strategy
The FoodBank and Coyne sought to raise public awareness of the organization's plight and the growing number of New Jersey residents struggling to eat, says Kathleen DiChiara, CEO and president of the FoodBank.

To do so, they enlisted one of the state's most famous residents: Bruce Springsteen, who appeared in print PSAs. The team then created a two-stage awareness effort for the ad.

Tactics
The ad appeared in several key New Jersey newspapers, and the team conducted a wave of blog outreach, targeting bloggers who cover music and Springsteen. The “Blogging Out Hunger” portion of the campaign united bloggers across the state, who used their skills to encourage people to donate food or funds to the group.

“Once [the ad] hit the papers, the media attention around it was just phenomenal – like nothing we've ever experienced,” DiChiara says.

Results
The effort received donations of more than $200,000, DiChiara says. Additionally, the ad generated 316 stories in 280 print, broadcast, and online outlets, including placement in The New York Times and USA Today. More than 100 bloggers participated in “Blogging Out Hunger.” “The morale at the FoodBank increased a lot,” says Linda Bernstein Jasper, assistant VP at Coyne.

Future
Coyne and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey are planning on working together in 2009.

PR team: The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (Hillside, NJ) and Coyne PR (Parsippany, NJ)

Campaign: We Can't Let This Bank Fail

Duration: September-December 2008

Budget: about $90,000

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