The timing for this event coincides with Saving Grace, so I'm putting this out to our CA members in case somebody who is not attending Saving Grace and who does have some interest in PR might want to consider attending on the PF's behalf. Contact info at the end of this description.
Last year I participated in Quality Time for PR Minds, a day-long event that
connects small non-profit organizations (many health-related) with PR
professionals for on-site consultations. The idea is to provide immediate
communications expertise to local non-profit groups that can't afford a PR agency or
staff. I found the event invigorating - it reminded me how many wonderful
non-profit organizations are doing great work in our community every day.
The next Quality Time for PR Minds will take place Saturday, October 28,
2006, in Santa Monica. PR professionals are still needed to fill some of the
slots. To find out more about the event, I spoke to its founder and chair, Dawn
Wilcox. Dawn, who was at Ogilvy for 10 years, recently started her own agency,
Penguin PR, with a focus on cause marketing and public affairs.
Dawn explained, "Most of my career has been spent working on social marketing
and public education campaigns, so I worked with lots of non-profits. I was
fortunate that through grants and government funding, there was money for
training and PR support." She saw, though, that when the funding ended, many
organizations ceased their communication efforts.
She commented, "A few years ago, people were talking a lot about speed
dating. I thought that the same concept could be used to provide PR consultations
to non-profits. I mentioned the idea to Tod Tamberg, director of media
relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He said, 'I love it. We can donate
the space.' We did the first Quality Time for PR Minds at the Archdiocese
headquarters in 2004." The event was a success. In 2005, Dawn coordinated two
events and estimates that $100,000 worth of consultations were provided -
impressive considering that each event had expenses of only $3,500. The expenses
were underwritten by a grant from Kaiser Permanente.
The event works this way: In the morning, non-profit employees or Board
members take part in two different 75 minute consulting sessions, each time with
two or three PR professionals. Then there's a lunch with a speaker who
discusses important non-profit issues. In the afternoon, a new group of non-profits
comes in. A PR professional can participate for the whole day, or just for
the morning or afternoon sessions.
About sixty percent of the non-profits at the event provide health services.
Dawn noted, "So many non-profits have components related to health, even if
it's not their primary mission. For instance, PATH (People Assisting The
Homeless) has health programs, as do organizations for people with disabilities.
Also, health care non-profits seem to have a good network of information. Word
spreads fast about an event like this."
Some of the PR pros become so engaged with a non-profit that they get
involved in its events, or even join its Board of Directors. And the response from
the non-profit community has been overwhelmingly positive. After the first
event, one non-profit employee wrote on the evaluation form, "I had no idea that
public relations people were so nice." Dawn noted that while she started the
event to help non-profit organizations, "it's also a wonderful way to improve
the image of our profession."
Dawn's long-term goal is to have the event take place annually in cities
across the country on the same day. She has approached PRSA national headquarters
about being the umbrella organization, and is looking for a grant or sponsor
to help expand the event.
To sign up for the October 28 Quality Time for PR Minds, contact Dawn at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 745-1712.