How Community Relations Activities Can Generate Targeted Media Coverage
There are many great reasons to partner with a public relations (PR) agency. But one often overlooked benefit is an agency’s ability to examine a client’s operation through the media’s perspective to find high-value publicity opportunities that might have otherwise been missed. At Veracity, one of the ways we do this is by highlighting our clients’ community relations activities.
Our work with Windermere Real Estate offers an excellent case study of this approach. We’ve handled PR for the company’s Oregon and Southwest Washington offices for seven years. The company has always had a stellar reputation for its charitable work through the Windermere Foundation. However, we found a fantastic publicity opportunity through the company’s community service day that highlighted their overall impact while raising the profile of individual offices in their communities. This campaign is an excellent example of how a well-executed PR plan can support multiple mission-critical goals simultaneously.
The Event: Windermere Community Service Day
During the annual Windermere Community Service Day, real estate agents and staff from across the West Coast step away from their regular duties to do hands-on work for those in need. Each office organizes its own community service day event with a local neighborhood charity, supporting the company’s goal of giving back to the communities where their teams live, work and play. Over the years, local offices have supported community projects at seniors centers, playgrounds, food banks and more.
These collective efforts add up. Since Windermere launched the program in 1984, the company has logged more than one million hours of community service time. While they’ve attempted to publicize past events, those efforts never gained much traction. That lack of coverage didn’t deter their efforts because community service is one of the company’s cherished values. However, Veracity saw this event as an opportunity to raise awareness for the company, its local offices and partner charities. Accomplishing those goals required a detailed strategy and flawless execution.
The Strategy: Raise Awareness Where it Matters Most
Real estate is a highly localized profession requiring agents to intimately understand communities at the neighborhood level. What’s more, agents meet their clients locally. That means, from a PR perspective, local agents will benefit more from local coverage than they would from state, national or even international coverage.
As we created a plan to promote the Windermere Community Service Day, we knew it would be critical to target media outlets in the communities where Windermere offices were volunteering. Our experience told us that local outlets would be most interested in covering how a local business was helping a local nonprofit in its mission to serve the local community. We also knew that a one-size-fits-all approach to execution wouldn’t be enough, and our outreach efforts would also have to be localized.
The Approach: Customized Local Media Outreach
We executed a strategy of sending a customized press release to every newspaper in a community with a local Windermere office. Each press release included information on what task the office was doing with which charity and an invite for the press to attend and take pictures. Veracity followed up on the initial release with photos if the press didn’t come to the event.
Accomplishing this strategy each year requires us to maintain customized and up-to-date media lists. Our team also works with each local office’s community service coordinator to confirm details on their community service day events, obtain approval for each press release and get event photos for our follow-up activities. In all, Veracity typically sends out 32 customized press releases for offices in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
The Results: Obtaining Local Media Coverage
Our efforts have been very effective over the years, and we garner all types of coverage from feature stories in St. Helens and Coos Bay to Medford and Portland, with notable TV coverage sprinkled throughout. That coverage raises Windermere’s profile, gives face to agents who are already very active in the local community and highlights the critical work local nonprofits do every day.
Media Expertise is Critical for Success
While community service day is one of Windermere’s most important community relations projects, local offices didn’t have the capacity or expertise to pursue local coverage on their own. Veracity recognized that the collected efforts of Windermere agents and employees created a much larger story, and we were able to successfully partner with their team to tell it to the people who mattered most.
The community relations partnership has resulted in more than 100 stories placed throughout Oregon and SW Washington in the past six years.
This campaign is a great example of what Veracity offers its clients. Not only do we bring the diligence to create a customized PR approach, but we also have the savvy to know that something like the Windermere Community Service Day would get picked up in the first place. Our experience with Windermere is also evidence of how partnering with a PR firm can pay dividends to your organization in ways you may not even imagine.