Community Relations – A two-way benefit for our society

Community Relations is a two-way benefit for our society.

Those who participate in community relations gain the benefit of giving back to their community, while those who are on the receiving end are better off from a company’s donation of time, talent or treasure.

Effective community relations begins with a commitment from the company or organization to support a cause that reflects the wishes and desires of the management team and employees within the company.  The cooperation and interest of the internal audience of a company is vital in community relations. If you are unable to get your workforce on board with a cause, it won’t be nearly as effective as supporting a cause that your employees find worthwhile.

Like public relations, the first step in a winning community relations program should begin with research. Surveys and one-on-one interviews can help you discover the interests of those who work within the organization, as well as the interests of outside stakeholders. While having employees on board with the cause is instrumental to the effectiveness of the community relations program, having the support of outside stakeholders is vital.

An inclusive community relations program should encompass four primary areas:  education, social services, arts, and business.   It often includes, but is not limited to, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, mental health, food banks, Salvation Army, homeless shelters, hospital and school foundations and Chambers of Commerce.

Companies giving back to their community should do so for the right reason.  Doing a good deed for publicity is a short-sighted and selfish motive.

A sage public relations professional once said, “Do the deeds first and then allow the words about the deeds to follow, hopefully from a third party.”

That’s good advice.

Steve Turnbo is our Chairman Emeritus and is an expert in all things public relations. He has more than 30 years of experience and has helped organizations, ranging from universities, to nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. He is an expert in community relations, crisis response, media relations and strategic planning…to name a few.