Putting the PR in pro bono

Beyond counseling clients on CSR strategies, PR agencies walk the walk when it comes to their own internal efforts.

March of Dimes Sports Luncheon
March of Dimes Sports Luncheon

Taylor: March of Dimes Sports Luncheon
Year started: 1989

What: Taylor supports the annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon. Bryan Harris, Taylor COO and managing partner, is the longtime PR chair for the luncheon planning committee.  

With a team of Taylor executives, Harris provides media relations support, as well as counsel on the event’s dynamics, honorees, and sponsorships. The firm crafts messaging to drive social media conversations, which leverage the platforms of the organization, honorees, and influencers.

Creative assets are provided by Taylor’s in-house team via an event highlights video used to help sell sponsorships. 

Success measures: Year over year 2012 to 2013, funds raised to support March of Dimes efforts in-creased by 10%, sponsorships by 15%, and luncheon attendance by 10%. Between 2011 and 2013, funds rose 30% and sponsorships climbed 40%.

Going forward: Harris now serves on the March of Dimes New York division communications committee that develops and implements strategic plans to support the group’s New York area portfolio. 


MSLGroup: Generation Activation
Year started: 2009

What: MSLGroup employees drive numerous local and regional community programs through the agency’s Generation Activation effort.

For example, in Atlanta, staff are donating $50,000 in services to Kate’s Club that provides long-term therapeutic and recreational support for grieving children. The effort will increase awareness of the group’s annual #BlueNovember, a month-long grief awareness campaign, and Memory Walk programs.

In Seattle, MSLGroup chose Peak 7 Adventures, an organization that empowers at-risk youth through adventures that foster trust and confidence. The office will donate $20,000 worth of services.

In 2014, for the fifth year, the New York office will offer pro-bono services to a nonprofit. Each year, the New York office donates $100,000 in pro bono service hours.

In previous years, the office has aided the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and Birch Family Services. About 25 agency employees are involved each year.

Success measures: About 75 employees are involved with the Generation Activation program. Overall, the firm donates more than 2,500 hours of North America staff time to purpose-driven programs.

Going forward: MSLGroup’s New York office will issue a reverse RFP for a $100,000 pro-bono program donation in the fall.


Axia Public Relations: Various projects
Year started: 2007

What: Axia started a program that donated PR services for 12 months to Desire Street Ministries, a nonprofit focused on community development in areas of New Orleans, and a startup that has since closed.

After the effort ended, Axia continued to work with the group. The agency added child sex abuse awareness organization Voice Today in 2010 and started working with the Association for Corporate Growth and Water for All Nations in 2013.

Axia helps Desire Street Ministries to promote annual events and leverages its contacts to drive event attendance and donations. For Voice Today, the firm arranges media interviews for their experts on topics related to child sexual abuse prevention, as well as commentary on sexual abuse topics in the news.

Teams of about five work with each client and there are twice-monthly open sessions to discuss challenges.

Success measures: The adopted charities and their board members refer Axia to other potential clients. For instance, Money Pages, a monthly coupon magazine that’s franchising across the US, approached Axia via a referral from its work with Desire Street Ministries.

Going forward: Axia is retaining the existing ac-counts from 2012 into 2015 and beyond.

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