If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time in your communications function thinking about how you can use your powers for good. It’s easy in our business to focus on how our performance at our jobs brings value to our clients, organizations, or specific goals. But April is National Volunteer Month–an excellent time for all of us to think about how we can use our skills and abilities for other worthy causes.
Earlier this week, Washington Women in PR (WWPR) gave its attendees a chance to do just that, at our ‘Give Back for National Volunteer Month’ event. The first of its kind for WWPR, this event convened a group of civic-minded WWPR members and DMV-area nonprofit organizations looking for communications support.
These organizations all serve women and/or children in the DC-area. Let me introduce you to the three fabulous organizations that attended and with which WWPR members engaged.
The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (HCPP) came in search of media relations advice. This organization provides play programming for children in Washington-area homeless shelters. Currently, HCPP is facing the closure of the largest shelter in which it hosts programming. Their communications challenge is getting the word out on a large scale that HCPP is continuing at its other sites and looking for a new home for its other programs.
Mary’s Center is a community health center that provides health care, family literacy and social services to individuals in need. Mary’s Center’s communications team came seeking support to create a crisis communications plan that takes into account potential issues that could arise as the organization operates at the intersection of many controversial issues including women’s health, immigration, healthcare and more.
Girls on the Run – Northern Virginia (GOTR NOVA) is a regional chapter of a national organization focused on creating a community of girls empowered to grow into strong, confident and healthy women. This organization faces a branding challenge, according to their representative. GOTR NOVA is focused on building the strength of character of their program participants, but the organization is more often associated with physical fitness, due to the culminating event of their program–a 5K. The GOTR NOVA team was looking for ideas to emphasize their dedication to building mental as well as physical strength.
The event kicked off with representatives from each of the organizations giving background on their group and explaining the unique communications challenge that their teams faced.
A common theme was that there was so much that these organizations want to do, but that their communications teams were very small, sometimes just one or two people strong. Lucky for them, they had a captive audience of about 30 whip-smart WWPR ladies.
I was humbled by the brainpower and the passion in the room. As soon as the organizations and their challenges were described, I could see the wheels begin to turn in the minds of the attendees. You’ve never seen such vigorous note-taking…
Once the introductions finished, we broke out into groups, with WWPR attendees choosing the organizations about whom they wanted to hear more and to which they could offer communications support.
I sat in on several conversations–with the goal of recording for this blog post, but who am I kidding, also to contribute–and found myself inspired by the willingness with which WWPR members shared their expertise.
WWPR’s membership spans the whole communications field–we have social media specialists, media relations mavens, digital content tsarinas, research queens and more. I hope, and it certainly seemed to be the case that this diversity of thinking could be helpful to these organizations, as they face their unique challenges in their unique communications ecosystems.
When breakout sessions finished and we regrouped with all those in attendance, many cards were exchanged and final pieces of support and advice were shared. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few WWPR members came away with some pro-bono work and a new cause to champion.
We thank the Homeless Children Playtime Project, Mary’s Center and Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia for their willingness to join us and we thank WWPR members who attended for bringing their a-game for a good cause. This was the first event of its kind, but judging by the experience of all those involved, it certainly won’t be the last.