Monday, March 8, 2010

Marketing the Philanthropic Brand

By Emily Jasper

There are some people who just belong in marketing: they are outgoing, creative, and full of energy. What if you aren’t sure? It seems like a pretty fun industry, there are tons of blogs and publications dedicated to the topic, and all your Twitter friends are in marketing or PR. All the signs are pointing to yes, and yet there’s still a question.

Do I belong in marketing? It seems so superficial…

This is tough for many people, especially because there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. Marketing might even be more susceptible to uncertainty, not just because of lost jobs and decreases in budget, but because the whole nature of marketing is changing. If you need stability in your life, marketing can seem pretty daunting.

And the whole point is to raise awareness of a brand…it might want you to buy something.

The thing to keep in mind is that marketing touches everything, and it’s not all sketchy. Sure, there are messages about “Buy, buy, buy!” On the other hand, did you ever wonder who got the neat job to handle the philanthropic efforts for a company? The representatives to make donations on the news? The planners of fundraising galas with celebrity entertainers?

Could be marketing.

What may have been lost during the recession’s hardest months is that positive work that organizations do. Donating time to your community or collecting canned goods for a shelter is great work that a company can highlight as part of its public appearance. Sure, if your company isn’t actually doing those kinds of things, don’t promote it as if you are. But there isn’t a reason to hide good work. If it’s part of a company’s brand, put it into the portfolio.

If you love highlighting that kind of community and philanthropic work, look into how companies market their own involvement. They are sponsors at a national level for organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure or can be involved more locally with the Race for the Cure event in your city. There may be entire teams in a company doing food drives or knitting blankets for hospitals.

If you are heavily involved in that arena, there is no reason why you cannot be part of communicating those efforts as part of a company brand.

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. She currently writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Jackie said...

Hi Emily,
I agree that we are all looking for ways to make our work more "meaningful" through the products we sell, people we help, or charities we support. Your blog helps to put that in perspective. Philanthropic work can also be a great team building experience within a company.

Emily Jasper said...

Thanks Jackie! You're right about teambuilding. There's a company here in MN that spent a lot of time doing charitable work during the hardest parts of the recession. They wanted to find rewarding things for their teams to do, and it turned out, helping others was a great way to do that. They ended up publicizing all the activities, and I was told that not only did business do better, but they were getting highly qualified applicants each time a position opened up, many of them citing the philanthropic work as a draw. Now it looks like it's going to be a part of the company culture, and they'll be around for the long-haul.

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