Cause Marketing (Part 2): Use Public Relations to Increase Visibility for Your Business and Your Cause

In Part 1, I talked about differentiating your business through Cause Marketing. In Part 2, I’ll show you ways to leverage public relations to increase visibility for your business and your cause.

In the Cleaning for a Reason story, Debbie Sardone, a residential cleaning business owner saw an opportunity to give back to a cause that held a special place in her heart. And she did it in a way that tugs at the heart strings of almost anyone that has been even remotely touched by cancer.

As the foundation grew, Debbie made it her mission to spread the word through the media, as they are always hungry for a high impact, “feel good” story such as this one. It started with a few newspaper articles about what her company was doing to help women with cancer. It didn’t take long for the television stations to pick up the story and run it on the evening news. Now newspapers and television stations all over the U.S. and Canada are telling the story, giving publicity to many of the cleaning companies that have partnered with Cleaning for a Reason.

Cleaning for a Reason on Fox News
Cleaning for a Reason on Fox News

One of the challenges however, is helping these cleaning company owners overcome their fear of speaking to reporters and appearing on camera. After all, we want to make sure they are using sound bites that get across the messages that most help the cause, and that helps their company shine too. So the foundation has put together an entire program that helps the business owners learn how to connect with the media, as well as how to get over their fears so they can get the most from the publicity they receive.

If you are seeking publicity for your cause, be sure to follow these tips:

  1. Research each media source to see which reporter would cover causes such as yours.
  2. Remember that reporters must come up with stories for their newspaper or TV station, so when you bring a pertinent topic to the reporter, you’ve helped him get his job done.
  3. When reaching out to the media, you must have a strong message or hook, to get their attention.
  4. The cause has to be universally appealing. Finding homes for abandoned guinea pigs may be a worthy cause, but is probably not going to garner a spot on the evening news.
  5. There has to be both timeliness and relevancy. For example, Cleaning for a Reason stories are relatively easy to get on the news during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

If you are struggling with the fear of speaking on camera, here are some pointers:

  • Don’t be afraid to let your passion for the cause shine through, as it will enhance your authenticity in the eyes of the audience.
  • Practice using “sound bites”. There is nothing worse than finishing the interview, and realizing you forgot to mention a very important detail. So prepare the points you want to make ahead of time, and make them short and concise.
  • Ask the reporter if you can get the questions ahead of time, and then practice with a friend.
  • Sometimes people aren’t sure if they should look at the interviewer or at the camera. Look at the interviewer – it will keep you from looking all around and will help you keep your composure during the interview.
  • Don’t make it about your business, make it about the Cause, and the good feelings you and your employees get through your participation.
  • Send a thank you note to the reporter after the story has aired. It’s a simple gesture but goes a long way with the reporter.

And finally, be sure to stay in touch with every media person you’ve connected with. Follow their reporting and send a note to compliment them on a recent story. Also let them know of other topics you may have for them. In Debbie’s case, since she owns a cleaning company, she’s pitched the idea of demonstrating how to disinfect touch points throughout your home during flu season, which resulted in a prime time newscast story in Dallas. This has continued to increase her status as a cleaning expert, and garnered even more publicity for her business and foundation.