You are currently browsing the Engine Communications posts tagged: non-profits

I hear this time and again. It’s not right. It’s not fair.

I really get upset when I hear about businesses and organizations getting taken advantage of when it comes to spending their hard-earned money on one or two advertising options. Check out my latest point of interest enews. Pretty important points to ponder >

Cheers, Laura

Organic FaceBook Promo with The Trails!

In less than a week, we reached 14,600 people on Facebook alone. Now that’s the POWER of Social Media!

We’ve posted on their website, throughout Social Media channels and on their Facebook page.

It was so successful, we repeated for June in time for Friday the 13th, the FULL MOON & Father’s Day!

FaceBook Promo without Paying for Ads!

Coming next:

  • New print map
  • Interactive map
  • Local business coupon booklet
  • Billboards, magazines in GTA & Ottawa.

Looking to attract tourists? Visitors to your business? Partner with them!

Call Cindy 613.478.1444

Cohesive Branding

Lots of branding, marketing and #print projects delivered lately!

Remember web is where it’s at, but you need print too!

Posters and Info Cards

Open Line Open Mind Posters & Info Cards

Cohesive Messaging = INCREASED PROMOTION!

Watch out for these posters and handy fold-over info cards for OpenLine OpenMind! Help spread the word about this important Community Service. Like and Share them on Facebook!

Gift Cards a Win for Non-Profits!

It’s funny how one idea leads into another. Being in the creative field, that’s often how it works. We brainstorm, research and throw ideas around all the time. Sometimes we begin leaning towards one direction, but then, more ideas come to mind that lead is into another. The end result is a culmination of all of our wacky, and at times, pretty clever thoughts and ideas.

That’s how we ended up with the idea of helping local community agencies.

While creating business Christmas gift certificates for our marketing services, we were going through the details on what could be done and how it should be redeemed, and all of a sudden, we realized that non-profits could use some help too.

And so, the birth of the gift card for non-profits came to fruition. While this is late in the season, we decided to go ahead anyway, with the aim of expanding the concept further in the future.

Then we thought, ‘Hey we would like to help too!’ Why not create a contest for the agency that receives the most donations in gift cards? We looked in our pocketbook and our production schedule and decided that we could donate $5000 worth of free services to the winner.

So, if you’re looking for a new idea for giving this Christmas, something that counts to make a difference in your community, you can now give the gift of professional marketing, consulting and creative campaigns to your favourite local charity or not-for-profit organization!

Contest closes January 31st, 2012. We hope you can participate, spread the word and we certainly also hope you like the idea. Wonder what we’ll think of next!

Gift Card for Marketing
Click here to check it out>

CARE Canada: International Women’s Day

2010_iwd_logo_rgbWe all know that I’m an advocate for non-profit organizations that focus on social justice. Being in PR and marketing, I’m always interested to see what new, innovative methods non-profits are using to communicate their messages, and champion the needs of their clients.

One of my favourite non-profit organizations to watch is CARE Canada. Last year, I was fortunate enough to interview their President, Kevin McCort, an incredibly passionate, creative leader in the field. Kevin and his team stepped up to the plate in a big way recently in Haiti, partnering with Oxfam and Save the Children to create the Humanitarian Coalition. Jointly, they raised over 13 million dollars to bring aid to those affected by the earthquake.

CARE’s work extends far past disaster relief. Their mission is to fight poverty through the empowerment of women and girls in developing nations. Using education, economic development, health care and HIV/AIDS programs, as well as disaster and conflict relief, CARE Canada is working with communities around the world to achieve their goals.

The results are inspiring, to say the least. You can imagine my excitement when I was contacted by their Communications Manager, Kieran Green, who wanted to give me the scoop on their plans for International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day, held annually since 1911, on March 8, is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. To kick it off tonight, CARE is hosting the 1-night-only Canadian premier of “Half the Sky Live”, inspired by the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It features live musical performances, celebrity commentary, and chronicles the struggle of poor Ethiopian women who overcome sexual violence and discrimination. It’s the first time a non-profit development group like CARE has commercially released a film to both entertain and raise awareness of a global issue.

On Monday, March 8, CARE will be celebrating International Women’s Day with an innovative awareness campaign. I’m going to let Kieran tell you about it:

With our focus on empowering women at the core of our poverty-fighting work, International Women’s Day is a natural fit for CARE for spreading the word about our work, and about the importance of women in the fight against global poverty.

This year we were looking for something that could be both a symbol, and also a simple activity for engaging Canadians, and raising awareness about International Women’s Day. We thought about the red ribbon for AIDS, the pink ribbon for breast cancer research, and about the wrist bands other causes have adopted. We wanted to do something in that vein, but at the same time unique and attention-getting.

Then we remembered the old folk tradition of tying a string around your finger to remind yourself of something you don’t want to forget. The idea was born. So for International Women’s Day we want all Canada to wear the string as a reminder of all the things the women of the world have achieved, and of all the things that are yet to be done.

It’s easy to do – you don’t need to buy a ribbon or any special equipment. Just cut a piece of string, or wool, or yarn, or ribbon, and tie it on your finger. And it’s not just for this year. Our dream is for the string to become the globally-recognized symbol for International Women’s Day year after year.

How fantastic is that?! Taking a familiar tradition (the “awareness” ribbon), and giving it a unique twist (the “reminder” string) is such a cool idea. It’s easy, the audience understands the concept, and through the use of social media, people can become a part of the campaign in ways that just weren’t available in the past. Through Facebook and an interactive Flickr album, supporters will be able to take part in this initiative in a deeply personal way.

A mentor of mine once said to me, “Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be loved. And everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.” CARE Canada’s International Women’s Day campaign fits this bill. We’ll be taking part. Will you?



Are You Connected?

Maasai warriors on their cell phones, in rural Kenya. Are they more connected than your small business?

Maasai warriors on their cell phones, in rural Kenya. Are they more connected than your small business?

I have to admit, after the earthquake hit Haiti, I was having trouble writing new blog posts. I was having trouble writing anything. When the world is rocked by tragedy, our collective heart goes out to others in extraordinary ways. Already having a passion for this nation and its people, I was happy to see the world community reach out.

Non-profits, government, military, and citizens put their creativity to the test to mobilize and act to help Haiti. I was blown away by the level to which new technologies assisted not only relief efforts, but also rescue efforts. We saw an iPhone app save a man’s life. Tweets from Haiti were sent, and picked up by CNN, moments after the quake. I was able to follow the Canada for Haiti telethon unfold on Facebook, while watching the American efforts live via the Hope for Haiti iPhone app. Both the American Red Cross and World Vision Canada initiated text campaigns to raise funds.

All of these efforts have raised millions of dollars. Millions. And those are just a few examples of the ways that social media has united people for the cause of Haiti.

So what’s the lesson that your business can take away from this?

It’s that social media works, and it isn’t going anywhere. Let me repeat: Social media is not simply a trend. It’s not a fad. It’ll change–that’s guaranteed. Next year we might not be talking Facebook. We might not be using Twitter in the same ways we do now. But I can promise you, social media tools aren’t going anywhere.

When the tsunami hit Thailand on Dec 26, 2004, we didn’t have the iPhone. There was no “app for that.” The term “app” wasn’t even in our lexicon. That was only five years ago. Imagine how our communications will change in the next five years?

With technology being accessible to the masses, whether through free online platforms, websites, or smart phones, it’s time that small business owners sit up and take note. Your target market is donating millions of dollars online. They’re creating movements via text campaigns. They’re looking at your website, judging your expertise based on your content. Your audience is connected. Are you?

Cause Marketing

Spread the word! Cause marketing is good for your business.

Spread the word! Cause marketing is good for your business.

It’s hard to bring things back to business as usual when the world is suffering in such plain view. There are always causes to support, funds to be raised, and people who will be in need. But this morning Haiti was rocked again by aftershocks, and the rest feels small to me again.

I mentioned  last week that I had planned to be on a plane to Haiti for two weeks of humanitarian relief work, as of January 27. That trip has since been cancelled. I’m not going to talk a lot about me here, but since I had told you last week, I thought I would update the status of said venture.

But let’s bring this back to you. Why should your business care about Haiti, or any cause for that matter? Because it’s good marketing strategy.

Wikipedia says:

Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation that is tax deductible, while cause marketing is a marketing relationship generally not based on a donation.

Yesterday, Kerry gave a great example of cause marketing (although you might argue that because a donation was involved it wasn’t pure CM). Lou’s Cozy Grill in Belleville, Ontario ran a promotion to raise money for Haiti relief. The benefit is two-fold: money raised for a good cause and great PR for Lou’s. Who doesn’t like a win-win?

I’m loosely classifying this under “cause marketing” because even though it wasn’t strategically executed, I love the fact that they gave it a shot. I don’t know how much money they raised, but I’ll remember their effort, and I’ll swing by to grab a coffee. While I’m there, I might buy a sandwich, or grab breakfast–whatever. The point is that consumers want to know that the brands they align themselves with support a vision beyond their own bottomline.

A clearer example is found in the actions McDonald’s restaurants implemented to support and promote the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour initiatives. For example, all Canadian McDonald’s restaurants turned off their roadside pole signs and roof beam lighting to conserve energy for Earth Hour. The support wasn’t monetary–it was action driven. McDonald’s was trying to build a reputation as  a socially responsible organization, and both McDonald’s and WWF benefited from increased awareness. That awareness translates into dollars. It’s an indirect root to acquire sales and revenue, but it’s good business.

And that’s where you step in. Does your marketing plan allow for cause marketing initiatives? What organizations do you align yourself with? Are you maximizing these low-cost opportunities for PR?

If not, we can help. Contact Engine Communications today to shift your marketing plan into high gear.

Website Accessibility

42-15645269There’s this one women’s washroom in a restaurant (which shall remain nameless) here in Belleville that really irks me. I’m a pretty small woman, but the narrow L-turn in the hallway leading into it, bookended by two doors which open in the wrong directions, makes it really difficult to maneuver. Everytime I go through this obstacle course I think, “What would I do if I were in a wheelchair?” It’s ridiculous.

But it illustrates a good point: How easy is it for people with disabilities to access your business?

As you may, or may not know, January ushered in the dawn of a new era of Accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the government has taken it upon themselves to develop standards of accessibility, and to enforce them.

It’s about time. It boggles the mind that in 2010, people with disabilities still do not have equal access to services, employment, transportation, and information. But all of that is about to change, and the first target for reformation is the world of customer service.

As of January 10, 2010, all public service sector organizations (ie. government, hospitals, school boards) must be in compliance with these standards. By January 2012, everyone else has to be on board.

The standards include things like enacting policies and procedures for providing goods and services to people with disabilities. It also encompasses training staff and volunteers in accessibility issues. Another key element of these standards is in regard to communication: website accessibility.

What is website accessibility?

Many people with disabilities rely on computers and the internet as sources of communication. Assistive devices, such as screen readers, speech input systems, and others operate with their software to provide an optimal experience. Making your website accessible means that it is built to be compatible with these tools.

There are different levels of accessiblity for the web. Most businesses with be able to stop at the ‘A’ level, but others, like our awesome clients, Pathways to Independence, will want to take it a step further. It all depends on what your site is doing, who it’s reaching, and how accessible you feel you need to be (it would be pretty cool if everyone was at ‘AAA,’ but maybe someday.)

We here at Engine have been talking about website accessibility for awhile. You can check out a quick slideshow presentation we did on the topic on our Slideshare site.

In the meantime, consider the implications for your business. Check out the following resources:

Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario – AccessON

WorldWideWeb Consortium – Web Accessibility Initiative

Wikipedia – Web Accessibility

Feel free to call, email, tweet or Facebook us with any questions you might have. We’d be happy to help!

Charity Wreath Off!

wreathoffWe here at Engine love it when our colleagues and clients come up with amazing ideas! Here’s one that we just had to share.

The group from JB Printing, in Belleville, Ontario, have created an online charity auction, where they’re selling off Christmas wreaths, made by members of their team, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.

Here’s Owner, Teresa Bell’s, take on how this project came about:

It started in October…….at a staff meeting we somehow got started challenging each other to a pumpkin carving contest. Well, the next week everyone showed up with a pumpkin and then we asked customers to vote. We had such fun with it that we started thinking, what could we do next?

With Christmas just around the corner it was natural to think of a wreath making competition, and we always support a charity. Why not put the two together? The Wreath Off was born.

The hardest part was deciding which charity to support. In past years we have done a Toy Drive, Christmas Sharing Baskets and Coats for Kids. This year we voted to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.

Everyone at JB Printing made a wreath. The rules stated that you had to make it yourself, it had to be a continuous shape and less than 24″ wide. When the wreaths arrived we were amazed at the variety, ingenuity and talent showcased in the various themes.

We are now auctioning the wreaths off, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Make a Wish Foundation. The JB staff are a pretty competitive bunch and we all want to have the highest selling wreath. It’s annonymous, so no one knows whos wreath they’re purchasing. The wreath designers will be revealed after the auction closes on Dec. 14.

Merry Christmas,
Teresa Bell

This is such an ingenious way to engage staff, foster creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and to give back to the community!

To find out how you can participate in the JB Printing, Christmas Charity Wreath Off, check out this link!

Lost in Translation?

j0433180Keeping close with our discussion last week about the uses of social media (SM) for non-profits, I feel there’s been enough interest that it might be useful to explore this topic further. I’ve had a lot of questions about the point of it all, and if there’s really any value in SM marketing our respective causes. My answer is a careful, “Yes.”

Why be careful?

I’m cautious because of many of your comments. There’s a fine line for people/business when addressing their values in terms of the non-profits they give to. Sometimes the best brand ambassadors are those who are willing to step out on a limb and declare thier allegiance to an organization they support. Other times, that’s not the case.

I don’t believe our giving should be made public in a ‘What’s in it For Me’ sense. I reluctantly put out the ‘Challenge’ knowing that it might turn some people off. But the point wasn’t simply in the gift. It was to start a discussion, and it did.

I’m the last person who would encourage anyone to use a medium knowing that it wasn’t appropriate for their messaging. There were lots of cons to the way my challenge was set up–let’s face it–and I don’t use client time that way. That was an opinion piece. I’m glad I did it. But working (obviously) for a marketing agency, my goal is to identify the best communications strategies for our clients, and to implement them. Not to simply ‘experiment.’ We create results at Engine, and we have the numbers to prove it.

However, I have just as many questions about Twitter, Facebook, and all things social as many of you do. It’s a new platform, and it’s still evolving. It needs to be tested.

I’m tired of reading lists of ‘Top 5 Twitter Uses’ and ‘Twenty Ways to Increase Your Twitter Following.’ What do those things even mean? How do they translate to results for business? That’s part of the greater challenge: to find meaningful value that creates results for clients, and also serves to make the world a slightly better place.

I have given a brief overview of some of the lessons learned in the challenge, and the implications of it, last week. I won’t go over them all today. Today is about movement.

How do we help our clients create worth using SM?

We move. We don’t stop at simply talking, following and tweeting. We don’t stop at creating relationships and networking online. We meet each other in person. We discuss how to connect, what values we share, and how those things translate into the ‘real world.’ Then we actually implement the changes.

The worst thing we could do is let the action get lost in translation.

We know that one of the least comfortable positions from which to move as a person, or in business, is from the reactive. Proactive is the place to be. That is where I see the value for non-profit and business in SM.

Being proactive means not just talking, but doing. I can’t stress this enough. SM is a piece of the puzzle, but it doesn’t create the whole picture. However, we can’t brush it off as being a waste of time.

To all you naysayers: I get it. I wasn’t a SM convert from the get-go either. It took about a year for me to start really understanding how it could benefit those I work for and with.

Now that I see it though, I don’t want the value to get lost. I think there are many truths that still need disseminating about SM. Part of that entails generating more conversation. I think a larger part will take people walking the talk.

What are you doing about it?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.