I was reminded yet again recently, not that I personally have ever forgotten, that genuine connection is worth as much, if not far more than the perceived honour of being featured in the media.
One of my biggest issues is getting people to understand that public relations is NOT media relations. Seriously, it isn’t, and PR Daily, one of the industry’s leading resources seems to agree.
We just finished a project with a new brand of flip-flops (thongs for the Australians amongst us) called Moeloco. Featuring a parallel giving component to the business model, founder Kathy Wong is providing a pair of school shoes to an underprivileged (read living well, well below our accepted standard of living) child in Calcutta through her partnership with the Hope Foundation.
To officially launch the brand, and help raise awareness for the work that the Hope Foundation does, Kathy held an event at Dee Why Beach on a beautiful January morning. Part of our role in managing the PR side of things for the event was to make connection with local businesses and see if we could get any of them on board with the event.
My immediate thought was to get in touch with Girdler’s, one of the local cafés that just happens to be run by former rugby league great, Ryan Girdler, and his wife Katja. We were looking for a breakfast partner and Ryan brought the added bonus of being a celebrity – such are the things you have to consider in the fickle world of media. Presented with the challenge of making contact without the aid of the one person I knew who could connect me, I was not to be deterred and I set about stalking in the most professional manner possible. My efforts were rewarded with a phone call in reply from Ryan agreeing to be a part of the event – score number one!
Although I knew of his reputation for being an all-round great guy, what I hadn’t anticipated is just how community-minded he and Katja were. Not only did they donate the breakfast for the event, come up with a solution to an electrical power supply issue and attend the morning personally, they also announced to the crowd of supporters that they were going to start stocking the Moeloco flip-flops in the café, where they get 2000 – 3000 customers a week, so that Kathy could help even more children by having her product directly in front of people, sharing the brand story and being available to take home right there and then at the beach – big score number two!
This isn’t the first time that the community relations aspect of what we do has paid as high or higher dividends than appearing the media. I’ve seen it time and time again where something that seems so simple and basic, but that is well executed, leads to a great result.
Sometimes looking at the smaller picture is far more valuable than trying to impress all and sundry. I’m not suggesting that media coverage doesn’t have its place and is an excellent way to help build brand awareness and establish a voice for your brand in the wider community. But this result provides a tangibly measurable way of getting more shoes on more kids.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a behind-the-camera kind of girl, but give me direct impact any day!