Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guerrilla Marketing Meets the Christmas Spirit

Bah Humbug!  Here's a Holiday feel good story for you.  As you might recall, I've been doing some volunteer PR work for a large animal shelter. (Centre County PAWS)  Recently I was asked to help decorate a Christmas tree for the annual "Festival of the Trees".  It's a big community event sponsored by the YMCA- local businesses decorate trees to show their holiday spirit. (And get some attention too!)

     Usually, the animal shelter sets up a pretty typical animal shelter tree- using dog bones, leashes & stuffed dog and cat toys for ornaments.  It's very nice- and a good theme.  But this time we decided to try something different.  So we contacted a local elementary school and asked if any students would be willing to make ornaments- illustrating their desire to help homeless animals.  A German teacher and an Art teacher said they'd do it.

     I'm thinking it's a win-win.  We get a tree loaded with handmade decorations. We demonstrate the animal shelter is involved in the community.  And we get some good PR for the animal shelter.  And who knows, maybe we can even get PAWS a mention in the newspaper.  We can use it- money is tight and we desperately need volunteers.  

     Frankly, I wasn't expecting much in the way of student-crafted ornaments.  Maybe some paper mache glops with whiskers on them?  What I got was definitely not The Usual.  When I picked up the ornaments last night I was floored.  These are really  good!
     The kids made dozens of regular round glass ornaments- decorating them to look like dog faces complete with snouts.  They made dozens of cat ornaments out of wooden spoons with pipe-cleaner tails.  They tied ribbons and bells to dog bones.  And all of the ornaments are really cute.

     But the most amazing part- kids took photos of our homeless animals, etched them onto foil, and painted them.  You can actually recognize the dogs and cats- except that now they're works of art!  They even made a tree-topper out of a dog dish- filled with biscuits- emblazoned with the PAWS logo.  Unbelievable!
     The tree is amazing.  So, we're contacting the newspaper and TV stations to tell them how these wonderful, talented kids are helping animals in need.  We're contacting the school district's PR department so they can do a story on these terrific students.  I'm even blogging about it!

     Here's the take-away.  This could have been a run-of-the-mill event for us.  But by trying something different we got something unusual.  I'm not saying we're geniuses- we just tried something different.  Suddenly this is a fun, somewhat exciting, semi-high-visibility production.

What mundane PR events are on your calendar?  How can you replace the Ho-Hum with a burst of HoHoHo?  My Grandmother always said, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."  So get out there and be bold- get creative.  And your client just might think you really are a PR genius!  How's that for a Holiday feel good story?  I leave you with a video clip of our magnificent Christmas tree!

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