10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.
PR as Another Opportunity for Branding
In an earlier article, we discussed Press Releases as Another Opportunity for Branding. Specifically, we addressed some of the basic criteria needed to produce a successful PR piece, including discussions about: Topics, Voice, Audience, Outlets, Format, Quotes and Photos, and Post-Submission Follow-up. In other articles, we provided the following press release generators: Identifying Your Content, Sample Press Release Announcing a New Hire, and Sample Press Release Announcing an Employee Promotion. In this piece, we are providing a template for publicizing a community involvement on the part of your company and employees (specifically the United Way Day of Caring/Action). We chose this example because such observances are broad in geographical scope and because publication of local and regional efforts is an extremely common and a widely accepted practice. However, any community service activity is a likely candidate for PR. (As before, we are hoping these tips will help keep you from getting stuck staring at a blank, crumpled page! However, recognize the need to customize this template to your own situation.)
Can this task be done in 10 minutes? With a template, maybe. However, you can easily spread the exercise across multiple 10-minute sessions.
In getting started, remember that the rule of the 5 W’s still applies, so we encourage you to review our earlier articles. We also want to remind you that voice matters – you must write as though you were a totally objective journalist preparing the story. Similarly, the content must be of interest to the audience of the intended publications.
As previously noted, announcements of community involvements are a common press release practice that communicate a positive branding message about your organization and your people. If you perform an internet search on “United Way Day of Caring,” you will find that local newspapers across the country have shown a willingness to print these kinds of stories that are generally perceived to be of interest to the readership. That said, be aware that some outlets might be willing to include all or most of the information you provide . . . but many will reduce your words to a skeletal, bare-minimum sentence or two. If that is the standard practice, a quick glance at past issues will let you know the kind of space typically allocated to such stories.
When preparing a press release on a public service activity, you are also realizing a secondary benefit by sending your current employees a message that you care about the community and are willing to provide resources (their time spent during working hours) to help. By making this quality part of your brand, you help yourself become an “employer of choice” and you encourage customers to treat you as a valued member of the community.
Below is a fill-in-the-blanks-template to use as a starting point in developing your own content:
PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
[HEADLINE ex. ## Employees from COMPANY NAME Participate in United Way Day of Caring [or Action]
[CITY, STATE, MONTH DATE] — Recently, ## employees of [COMPANY] took part in the United Way Day of Caring [Action] by spending time at [LOCATION/NAME OF RECIPIENT/BENEFICIARY] performing the following tasks – [LIST THE SERVICES PROVIDED]. Participating for the FIRST TIME-or-# CONSECUTIVE YEARS in this United Way initiative, the crew from [COMPANY] met at their offices before traveling as a group to the work site.
Note: Body paragraphs then follow this opening (i.e., background information, quotes, company description, etc.)
For those unfamiliar with this activity, the United Way Day of Caring [or United Way Day of Action] is an initiative designed to link company volunteers with organizations that have a special need. The kinds of services provided are very varied and can range from outdoor clean-up activities to painting and general maintenance—basically whatever service the recipient needs most. No special skills are required of the volunteers, just a willingness to provide the time and effort needed to make a difference. According to the United Way, their missions is “. . . to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.” On the Day of Caring [Action], large numbers of people work to improve their communities by volunteering with United Way. (To learn more and find the most up-to-date information, see the United Way’s website.)
According to [NAME OF HIGHLY PLACED OFFICIAL WILLING TO BE QUOTED], “[COMPANY] is very pleased to have participated in this year’s event. As strong supporters of the United Way, we welcome this opportunity to give back to the community and help out in a very tangible manner by offering our time and effort to this worthwhile cause. We appreciate the willingness of our group of volunteers to help out and are glad to be able to give them the chance to spend this day of work in this manner. As you may know, [COMPANY] has a long-standing history of community involvement. We believe our staff and customers benefit from participation of this kind.”
Note: Add a quote from one or two of the volunteers willing to make remarks. Try to include a description of his/her activity and the way in which the involvement made them feel. (We offer the following example for you to use as a starting point and modify as needed.)
[NAME AND TITLE OF VOLUNTEER] was one of the people volunteering this year for [COMPANY]. According to [VOLUNTEER], “I was asked to [DESCRIBE ACTIVITY]. Working with several others from my company, we accomplished quite a lot, and the people from [RECIPIENT/BENEFICIARY] seemed very grateful. Personally, the whole project made me feel very good about myself and my employer. I hope to come back next year.”
[NAME AND TITLE OF VOLUNTEER] agrees. “I was also part of the group that day. However, my job was to [DESCRIBE ACTIVITY]. I really enjoyed this break from my routine and especially the chance to do some good for others. I appreciate the fact that my employer supports this cause and allowed me to spend a day away helping without a loss of pay.”
Note: Your “boilerplate” company description that outlines the products, services, history, location, hours, etc. then gets added. See our Style Guide for further information. While the boilerplate language of different companies will be quite individual to reflect the specific history and characteristics of that particular business, a simple example might be:
“Established in [YEAR], [COMPANY NAME] specializes in providing [PRODUCT/SERVICES] to customers located in [GEOGRAPHICAL OPERATING AREA]. Open [LIST HOURS/DAYS] or available 24/7 online by visiting [WEB SITE ADDRESS], [COMPANY NAME] [IS ENDORSED BY/IS KNOWN FOR] and encourages customers to learn more. In recent years, [COMPANY NAME] has grown substantially and is looking to achieve similar increases during the upcoming months.”
Note: As you can see, your boilerplate text provides you with a chance to briefly tell your story while giving potential customers a means of acting on their interest. The above is just one very basic example. Be sure to tailor yours to tell your story in the most effective possible way.
As always, we welcome any thoughts or feedback, and we encourage you to comment by using the space provided below. We would be happy to receive special requests to provide other sample press releases in the future.
Want a Word document of this example? Just click!