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PR Never Can Say Goodbye

The Ideal Community Relationship is Ongoing. Here are Some Ideas for Your Operation.

By Thomas J Roach

The worst thing an organization can do is shut itself off from its community. The second worst thing is to make contact with the community only when it needs something.

The ideal community relationship is ongoing. This is accomplished by planning events that will periodically bring the organization into the news and give it an excuse to reach out through social media.

Here are some suggestions for consideration:

  • Some quarries stage a public event on-site. This can be a community picnic, a tour of the facilities, an historical talk and discussion, an art show or a radio broadcast. An ambitious community relations department or committee might combine several of these suggestions: for instance, broadcasting the talk on the history of the quarry and the community and transitioning into a tour.
  • Contests are good opportunities to stay in touch with the community and at the same time enhance the reputation of the organization by associating it with excellence. Speech contests can be coordinated with local schools.
  • Art shows are like contests in that they bring the community to the worksite, and they enhance the reputation of the organization. Many quarries have scenic areas where tents can be set up and where photographers might be allowed to take pictures. Art events can be co-sponsored by photography clubs, art clubs and schools. Having a co-sponsor guarantees a core audience and opens up opportunities to connect with more members of the community.
  • Fundraisers help strengthen reputation by demonstrating good corporate citizenship and even compassion. Short races, bicycle rides and walkathons can start and end at the quarry or worksite. This builds familiarity and reputation.

Many other opportunities can be generated by working with other community groups and clubs. The best way to make these connections is to require exempt employees to belong to at least one community organization and have them identify needs that can be filled with company cooperation or with the use of company facilities. This integrates the organization into the community on a more personal level.

All of these suggestions are good for multiple publicity hits, as they provide opportunities to interact publicly with the community in several stages. In January an agenda for the year can be published.

As a particular event nears, one or two announcements of planning and calls for participation and entries can be made. Finally, the event itself presents the greatest opportunity.

Local reporters and photographers may be interested in providing coverage, or almost as valuable, individuals attending the event can tweet and post photos and comments on Facebook and other social media. And in some cases, it may be appropriate to get coverage for a wrap-up story.

A possible schedule for the year might look something like this:

  • January: Publish a list of events for the year. This can be a media release and a poster with photos of the quarry and some head shots of employees who are coordinating events.
  • February: Co-sponsor a speech contest with the local schools.
  • April: Host a 5K race to raise money for a local cause.
  • June: Hold a community picnic in or near a quarry, and schedule a speaker or speakers to discuss the history of the quarry in the community.
  • August: Host an art show, and give photographers access to safe areas where they can practice location photography.
  • October: Organize a community bike ride that starts and ends at the quarry. Hire a local oldies band and hold a pizza party for everyone who finished the trek.
  • December: Sponsor a holiday event for employees and their families.

The goodwill generated by these activities will be reflected in the employees who participated, in the partner organizations, in local officials and in members of the news media.

Goodwill is its own reward, but it will be extremely valuable if the company ever finds itself in a public debate over its operations.