They eagerly point out the oceans of very visible advertising that surround the release of new software…or cars…or movies…and they ask, logically enough, “What role does public relations play in all this?”
A visit to my favorite locally-owned and operated farmstand recently gave me a terrific example for a response. As my wife and I neared the stand, we noticed that traffic was backed up almost a quarter of a mile…cars trying to enter and to leave the parking lot.
It wasn’t a holiday period, so what was going on??
Turns out the folks who run the place were having a fundraising “Ice Cream Social” to support a well-known charity.
And people were pouring in by the carload to support the cause by paying to eat ice cream…and to then buy stuff…fruits and veggies.
Wilson Farm is widely known not only for its very fresh products but also for its commitment to and involvement in the community. And this is not “corporate speak.” This attitude is reflected in the actions of management and employees who all enthusiastically get involved.
Community involvement is not a new concept, but it is one that is carried out with varying degrees of success by organizations large and small, global and local, for-profit and not-for-profit.
What we’re talking about here, purely and simply, is “relationship-building”…creating a connection with stakeholders…people or organizations who either are affected by your activities or could potentially affect your activities in some way…customers, suppliers, neighbors, town government…the list runs on and on.
And here’s why this is important.
No matter how important or different you think you are…others don’t. A farmstand is a grocery store is a farmer’s market. They all sell fruits, vegetables, and “stuff.”
So why should or would people come to you??
Simple answer…because they feel like they know you…they feel like you’re a part of their community or their life…they see the genuineness of your actions and, for that reason, they want to support you.
As is the case with Wilson Farm, their prices are not necessarily the lowest, and there are easily a half-dozen supermarkets within a ten-minute drive, mostly with lower prices.
But…and here’s the difference…those supermarket “boxes” have zero “personality.” They have less than zero recognition in their communities. They are, purely and simply, “corporate outposts” that hire (mostly) local help.
Wilson Farm is a “destination”…a place to go to for fun, community-related activities…and quality products. Hayrides in the fall. Ice cream socials in the summer. Farm tours for adults as well as for children. Something for everyone!
And, when you get there, not only are you able to get some great fruit and veggies…you see a family-owned and operated business that cares.
And so kids, to borrow a line from “How I Met Your Mother,” that’s how public relations works.
You commit to doing…and you DO…good things.
You get the community involved whenever possible.
You “walk the walk, and you talk the talk.”
It’s not rocket science, but it is good PR!