After You Beat Them, Join Them
This strategy can also work through involvement with the local schools. Target a certain grade to have an annual field trip to tour the facility and offer to be a guest at a science class; it creates the same good will. It is again also a relaxed time to inform the teachers and others how much you contribute to the tax base and, thus, the schools (including their salaries).
Many companies sponsor “community volunteer days” through which they give their employees time to volunteer within the community. Some companies let their people do it on their own, while others conduct a group activity. When you conduct a group activity, you create a greater impact and therefore create more goodwill. How about donating the materials and labor to build a large sandbox in a local park? Your company would have access to the materials at a low cost and the labor. You could also name it in memory of a prominent person in the community who has been a children’s advocate, such as a teacher. You could also arrange a ribbon cutting and invite the local parents to bring their children. The newspaper would cover this and the mayor could cut the ribbon. Again, this would give you a lot of good will and give you a relaxed opportunity to educate the community about the aggregates industry.
Take the lead in a local charitable cause. Assisting large national charities may be more than worthwhile, but you will gain far more goodwill by sponsoring a local charitable endeavor because the community can see the direct result of your efforts. Leading the effort will keep your name out front and constantly in the media with a positive connotation.
Take the next step
Just participating in charities and organizing events isn’t enough, however.
It is important that you formally note who is present at each of these efforts as well as who benefits from them. Create a database — these are your future supporters who can be contacted and reminded of your relationship when it is time to demonstrate community support.
You should also send thank you notes to every public official who takes part in anything you do, and use your database to send out an annual holiday card to remind these people you are there. Each effort, when done correctly, can create goodwill towards your company that you can call upon if necessary in the future.
Another key part of a strategic community involvement plan — an element that for some reason often seems to make our clients squeamish — could be characterized as blowing your own horn.