LONDON, 6th September 2013, PR Newswire/- Brixton teenagers sharing musical expertise in Senegal, an app for South Londoners to monitor police stop-and-search activity, and how music helps with mental illness are only three of the stories that would have gone untold had PR Newswire not been inspired to partner with two local charities.
Coming away from last year’s Leader’s Quest event, PR Newswire Product Director Bill Leask hardly had time to describe his ideas before colleagues were offering to help.
One year later, at Business4Better, held in the National Hall of Kensington Olympia on 9-10th July, and featuring more than 150 charities and not-for-profits, Leask presented the results of PR Newswire’s charitable partnerships and how they made a difference in the community and engaged employees throughout the company.
At Leader’s Quest last year Margaret Pierre-Jarrett from High Trees Community Trust and Tim Brown from Raw Material left a lasting impression on Leask, and he was struck by their personal drive and determination. “They were doing amazing work,” he said. “However, they needed more visibility, which is where PR Newswire could help.”
“We could have offered High Trees and Raw Materials free access to PRN’s own distribution networks, but would Margaret or Tim have had the resource to identify what would make a good story and then root out everything needed to create the content for PRN to get it in front of the right eyes? Probably not,” he said.
“What was needed was assistance from people willing, in their own time, to look at what both organisations were doing, spot the story potential and create the content,” he said.
Amongst the stories that got told are:
Bringing London Beats and Female Artists to Senegal: Raw Material Artists Reflect on Festa2h Festival
Liberty Award for Stop and Search App Created on Apps for Good Course at High Trees
After coming across an email chain between colleagues involved with the project, Senior Multimedia Production Specialist Amit Chhabria noticed the dated High Trees website and offered to build a modern website from scratch. Chhabria optimised the website to be viewed on tablets and mobile phones, and also helped design a new logo.
“Margaret had already told me how much High Trees needed a new site, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that anyone at PR Newswire would be able to help. Not a mistake I will make again,” Leask said.
Dulcie McDermott, head of charity partnerships at Fujitsu, described how Fujitsu’s partnership with Shelter helped them modernise the technology infrastructure within the stores to create a more efficient environment, and ultimately serve more people in housing need.
“Fujitsu will help Shelter to modernise its shop network and connect more people to the charity’s housing and homelessness advice and support services. Utilising 25 years’ experience working with the UK’s largest retailers, Fujitsu will modernise the tills, hardware, software and technology infrastructure behind the scenes to save time and increase efficiency. It will also help Shelter revamp its digital presence, implementing tools such as webchat within new stores to link customers to Shelter’s online advice service. Furthermore, Fujitsu will work with Shelter to increase the capacity of its helpline,” according to a Fujitsu press release.
Sam Davies, speaking for Shelter, explained that people in need may not have the time to find or walk into a store, and an increased digital presence is a key area in helping people with housing needs because it’s crucial to help as early as possible.
“Charity partnerships all come down to mutual benefit,” McDermott said. It shows consumers how they’re both innovative, increases brand reputation and increases employee engagement. They have also developed graduate schemes based around the partnership.
CharityComms CEO Vicky Browning explained in the event’s first workshop how employee involvement in charitable causes is proven to increase both engagement and motivation. She also reinforced the theme of the event that charity/business partnerships are a great way to raise awareness for an issue, reach new audiences and enhance brand reputation. CharityComms’ partnership with PR Newswire is a great working example of a Charity/Corporate relationship.
Helen Walker, chief executive of the volunteering charity TimeBank, talked specifically about how charitable partnerships can make the most of employee skills. Being involved in charitable events grows employees’ skills by “tackling complex social problems.”
McDermott stressed that this was absolutely true with the Fujitsu/Shelter partnership as employees throughout the company participated in promotional events.
“Every commercial organisation has lots of skills inside it that don’t have anything to do with its product offering,” Leask said.