This week between Christmas and New Year’s is often a “fun” time of year, so here’s a message about having fun doing PR.
There’s a family in my neighborhood with three teenage sons who have a terminal disease that means they use wheelchairs to get around. Their dad has to lift them, one at a time, from their wheelchairs into the cab of his pickup. Then he loads each of the three heavy power wheelchairs on a flatbed truck. Takes 30 minutes to go anywhere.
Some other neighbors decided to step in and do something to help. They wanted to get the family a large van equipped with a mechanical lift system. They worked with a local auto dealer who told them if they raised $25K, he’d make sure it was enough to get them a great vehicle. They organized a GoFundMe campaign – shot a video, wrote a moving description, and got the word out via social media. Their charitable enthusiasm was infectious, so I wanted to get involved.
A few phone calls later, a local TV station was at their house, covering the campaign. Working with that reporter was different – he was personally really into the story. Made sacrifices and efforts that journalists don’t usually make.
His piece was awesome. So were two newspaper articles we got. The publicity re-ignited the campaign and pushed it past the goal.
But by this point I was hooked. This was fun! I called the dealer to talk about how to present the vehicle to the family in a media-friendly way. He was humble about it, but I insisted.
It came down to the wire, but he got the vehicle just in time. And we had a great Christmas Eve story to offer the local media. You know how you feel awkward or torn about follow up phone calls? Not me, not this time. I was going over people’s heads, talking directly to editors, whatever it took, because I knew this was a great story. And all the journalists thanked me for it.
I don’t know about you, but my experience has been that media are almost always late to events. I showed up thirty minutes early, and the first TV crew had already been there shooting for a half-hour!
I’ve never felt such a positive spirit at a car dealership :). Watching the boys react to their new vehicle was incredible – this TV story does a great job of capturing it. Definitely one of the best Christmas experiences I’ve ever had.
Do you have fun doing PR? Maybe your employer sells ball bearings or obscure financial instruments or something you find equally un-redeeming. If so, you probably don’t get media showing up early or working on their days off to cover your ideas.
But if you want to, you can lend your rare and valuable skills to a cause you believe in, pro bono. They’re all around you. And trust me – it’s really fun.