Increasing Awareness and Supporting Donor Relationships Through Media Relations

Client: Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Leveraged high-profile charitable deeds into increased media coverage and awareness of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia

Outcomes: Media Coverage

On Dec. 9, 2014, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia granted its most impactful wish of the year. Lee, a 15-year-old diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, received his wish of a Tracker Bass Boat.

Research and planning identified that media relations could be used to increase organizational awareness, while simultaneously supporting development.

Initial background information regarding the needs and goals of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia was gathered through planning meetings and telephone conversations. Formal research included a survey of staff and board members, which provided valuable insight into the needs of the organization. Other research revealed the community’s confusion about Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia as “local.” Through the survey and conversations with staff, there was also a strong desire to leverage media relations to highlight and increase corporate partnerships.

Our program goal, defined during planning, was to increase awareness of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia as a local nonprofit benefiting children in Virginia diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, while simultaneously supporting development activities. This helped to define our strategy to leverage high-profile wishes, like Lee’s, to meet this goal.

As part of the planning process, our team also worked with Bass Pro Shops to secure a significant discount on the Tracker Bass Boat. After securing the discount, which made the wish possible, our team worked together with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, the wish sponsor, Trusted Choice, and Bass Pro Shops to develop a news release and timeline for media relations activities.

On Dec. 8, our team began pitching targeted local media outlets to secure coverage of Lee’s wish being granted. Follow-up calls were made to each media outlet, along with emails distributing the news release. Leading up to the event, we worked with Lee’s family to prepare them for news interviews. We managed media at the event and coordinated interviews with local TV and print media outlets. We also took photographs to accompany follow-up interviews or post-event interest from other media.

The event generated eight local media placements, but one of the TV stories was picked up by an additional nine media outlets across the country, including Boating World Magazine, resulting in a total of 2,722,295 media impressions.

We also evaluated our efforts through face-to-face meetings, emails and phone calls with the staff of Make-A-Wish, who were thrilled about the media coverage of the event and for their corporate sponsor, Trusted Choice.