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How to Increase the Reach of Your Community Efforts

Posted by Sherry Howell on Feb 18, 2022 9:08:50 AM

Helping others is the rising tide that lifts all boats.Volunteers helping in community

At the recent IAAPA FEC Summit event, operators from all over North America shared challenges that the leisure-based entertainment community faces and how we can what we can do about it. 

One of my favorite ideas shared was the idea that facilities could do a much better job communicating the important work they're doing in their community. Read on for the details and how you can take this idea and run with it. 

What's the problem?

When calling out areas where facilities tend to miss or have lackluster results, someone shared that often facilities don't do a good enough job sharing their charitable giving.

As an operator, you likely receive dozens or more requests for your support of local organizations and charities, many of which you give a large amount of support. This got me thinking about why operators aren't doing a better job sharing the work they're doing in their community, and I came up with a few potential reasons:

  • It's all you can do to run the promotion or event, and publicizing it can be a bit of an afterthought.
  • You don't want to look like you're helping others just for the public relations value.
  • You don't know when or how to share the news. 

Getting overwhelmed in the process is very common, and a key reason we get lackluster results. Use this guide to help you implement your community efforts, help others, and share the good work you're doing in a meaningful way. 

No. 1: Consider how you will want to share the good work. 

During one of the sessions, an attendee suggested that facilities could improve their reach if they partner with other local venues and distribute a joint press release sharing the way they've given back. I thought that this idea was brilliant and could be a great way for you to strengthen your partnerships with other local businesses, make a more significant community impact, and gain a wider audience for your efforts - and ultimately, your business. 

This approach also helps dispel the worry that you'll be overly self-promoting. Instead of focusing on yourself, you'll keep the focus on the organization(s) and the notion that many people can be impacted when businesses and citizens come together.  

No. 2: Narrow down your charitable giving focus. 

First, think about what causes you want to support and the timeframe, such as for a month or quarter. Let's say that you want to support a local children's hospital throughout the second quarter. Think about the activities and events that will help you raise funds, show support, and gain awareness. Your point of sale should support multiple ways to raise funds, such as the ability to:

  • Sell designated charity items and donate a portion of the proceeds
  • Offer a donation 'round up' program
  • Offer charity events guests can self-select to participate in while they're onsite
  • Host planned group events for a cause
  • Make unique products only available to guests affiliated with a charity or organization
For more information on the types of fundraising efforts, check out these resources:

Remember that, while your facility can support various causes financially through events and partnerships, don't underestimate the impact your team can have with time donations as well. Volunteer efforts like serving food at the food bank, helping to clean up the beach, or sending your mascot and party team to visit the children's hospital are terrific ways to give back.

They also help your team feel the impact that they're making in the community, which can also boost morale and engagement - plus it's just a nice thing to do. So be on the lookout for ways your facility can truly partner with the organization(s) you want to support, and watch your impact grow. 

No. 3: Make your plan. 

Once you know the significant events or promotions that you're going to run, plot them into a project plan so that you can organize your tasks and deadlines before, during, and after each event. Putting it in writing will help you keep on top of all the essential tasks and help you plan ample time for training, communication, implementation, measurement, and wrapup and celebration. For more information about developing a project plan, check out:

No. 4: Partner with other local venues or businesses. 

Once you're organized and know what you want to accomplish, it's time to invite other businesses or partners to participate. Contact local entertainment venues, restaurants, or any other local business or organization and ask them to join you in giving back and participating in a joint press release to share the results of their efforts during the same period. they're doing for the same period.

You don't have to share every detail about the events you're doing, but give them some idea of what you're doing and what you'd need from them. Here's a sample email or talking points for reference:

"Hi Jim (local business owner),

Giving back to our community is something that we greatly value. In the second quarter, we have decided to focus our efforts on supporting the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and we're inviting your team to join us.

Our goal is to partner with you and other local businesses so that we can make an even bigger impact. At the end of the quarter, we will produce a joint release, including our partners, sharing the results of our efforts with the community.

We believe that banding together with you and sharing our combined results will help encourage others to give, widen our impact, and gain greater publicity within the community. What do you think?

We've begun planning a quarter with several events, but you can participate however you choose. Our team can handle the writing of the release. If you'd like to join us, all we would need is for you to:

  • Capture the details of the charitable efforts you participate in during the months of April to June, such as:
    • # of events held
    • total dollars raised/donated
    • # of people helped
    • anything else you'd like to share
  • Take photos of any event and share those to go along with the release
  • At the end of the quarter, send me what you'd like to include in the release by July 10, 2022
  • Provide us with a point of contact, social handles, and any hashtags you'd like to use when publicizing the release

We'll craft the release and send it to you for review and feedback by July 15, 2022. Once it's finalized, we will distribute it on PR Newswire and to the local media, and we'll publish it to our social channels, tagging your business as well, and invite you to do the same.

We'd love to partner with your team on this. What do you think?"

Note that it might be easier to entice a journalist's attention if you and your partner businesses rally around the same cause, but you could also think broadly and share a joint release about the way you've helped needy families, schools in your district, or other similarly aligned causes. 

No. 5: Put your plan into action.  

Armed with your project plan and commitment from other businesses, you now have everything you need to implement your outreach. When it's time to craft your press release, it's a good idea to focus on your commitment to the community and, most importantly, the people and organizations you've helped. Include results and numbers, quotes from beneficiaries, and urge others to "pay it forward" and continue the great work of lending a hand to those in need.  

When it comes to sending your press release, it's always better to send directly to journalists, social media influencers, and bloggers you know in the local market. But if you don't have personal contacts or the time to pursue those avenues, publishing your release to a service like PR Newswire or Newswire can also be effective. For more tips on writing and publishing press releases, check out these resources:

With a bit of planning and the right partnerships, it won't be long before you see your local impact begin to grow. Good luck, and please send your releases to us so we can share your good work, too! Send links to articles to Showell@centeredgesoftware.com.

 

Topics: Customer Loyalty, Facility Operations